I was enjoying the morning breeze on the porch while massaging a client at the Home when a gentleman emerged from the doorway with a walking stick in hand. There’s a Therapist here and no one informed me? I’ve never seen him before. He said that he arrived at the Home last week (after my visit) and was told that there is a Therapist, but he kept looking out for the person and did not see them. He introduced himself and said that he would like to have therapy twice weekly. I told him that when I was through with my client I would speak to him. He sat in a chair at the far end of the porch and began conversation with the gentleman there. He spoke of his life in Grenada and called the names of places, and the other gentleman corrected him on a few of them saying that those were some of the old names. The new guy said that he hung out with the old folks there so he called names that they would have told him.
He then ventured to Guyana. Said he is not a good tourist, he has to live in a place to pick up a few things about it. They both agreed that Guyana is a beautiful place that is experiencing consistent development which was not possible back in the days of Mr. Burnham. Then again, it was, it is just that the people did not understand him. He sought my opinion and I said that human beings base their choice on taste and Mr. Burnham tampered with the people’s taste by deciding to ban food things that they had grown accustomed to. When a man is hungry he cannot see to follow a vision. He agreed. Said that Mr. Burnham was a visionary and a vision requires just that, the ability to see it, and the facilities to execute it. The hardest part is getting others to see what you see, but the people were too angered to see anything. For that matter, many felt him to be a hypocrite as there were whispers that he continued to enjoy the foods he sought to deprive them of.
And he spoke of how Trinidad needs a leader who is a tyrant because Trinidadians do not appreciate freedom. He refrained from venturing into who is the suitable candidate, but said that if he was a Politician he would only last a day as he would be shot within hours as he is not tolerant of some of the things that Politicians mince matters about. For example, sloppiness. He said that there is a price to citizenship, the most basic being behavioural. He does not understand how the Government tolerates squatters who, to their own detriment, occupy lands that are always struck by disaster then they go to pose for the newspapers and dare to suggest that the Government provide assistance. What happened to all the money they saved while they did not have a rent or mortgage to pay? Shouldn’t the Government be assisting the man who has been paying his rent but fell short one month and was evicted? At least he was making an effort. And He recounted how he built a house in Santa Cruz in the most old fashion and painstaking manner. When he was through he was given a form to fill out and told to leave it at the front and an Inspector would collect it. It was a year after when it was most weather beaten that an Inspector passed and saw it and asked him what was its purpose. He told the man to read it, as it was from his organization that it was derived. The Inspector said he never saw the form before. He took it. A few weeks after, things having been regularized, he got a $3000.00 bill from WASA. He said some things should not be queried on the phone, so he paid them a visit.
When he arrived he was told that the person who signed the notice was not at work. He said he would like to speak to someone higher or lower in position as the person’s absence could not possibly mean that the organization is no longer functional. He was escorted to another officer who listened to his complaint and promised to look into the matter. What was interesting is that WASA claimed that the sum was so high due to arrears. He told the officer that their interpretation of arrears might be starkly different and needed to be clarified as he cannot be in arrears if he just put in his plumbing. He then pulled out a letter he had written in advance TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN indicating that there was a meeting on the said subject and date which was carbon copied to an officer at the Public Utilities Commission. He said the officer was displeased to see such, but nothing gets done unless folks know that you are not only dealing with them, but someone above their head. Apparently the officer at the Utilities Commission was shocked by the large some charged as it did not correspond with the assessment. He investigated the matter. My new friend later got a letter from WASA indicating that a reassessment was done and his bill was changed to $187.00. It remains that amount to date. He then wrote to WASA requesting an apology. A Manager contacted him by telephone to apologize. He told the Manager that he wanted the apology in writing so that he would have something to show should the $3000.00 decide to raise its head in future. So yes, as a Politician he would be assassinated.
He then spoke of the foolish behavior of some Politicians remarking that he had published a book on surveying by a distinguished gentleman in whom the late Dr. Williams suddenly became interested. He paid the man a visit at his place where he lived in the vastness of green with about 200 heads of cattle grazing. He had also made notable strides in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Dr. Williams wanted the man to work for him and outlined all the benefits of doing such. The man, who had not invited his guest in, but rather was listening from his window, then asked Dr. Williams if he saw any of the cows across the way fighting. No. Very well. The man said that he cannot work for him as humans in power do not behave like the cows. He turned to me and said, you are a little too young to know, but no one refuses Dr. Williams. So the man’s life was made difficult. His ventures were frustrated at every turn. After about a year, the man had enough and wrote to a University in Indiana where he had held a distinguished position and told them he wanted to have his job back. They promptly responded and early one beautiful morning, the man took his wife and boarded a plane and went on to head a department there. He is now retired with all the benefits that accrued. He said that man was a Guyanese who came here, made significant contributions, and was frustrated by a Prime Minister who publicly spoke of promoting the best interest of the people. So yes, Trinidad has been taking for granted that with which she has been blessed and is now ripe for a tyrant.
By this time I was finished with my client and went to wash my hands. I spoke with the Nurse in charge about the chatty new guy and was advised that he is due for therapy as he has had surgery recently and such was recommended. She cautioned that he likes to dictate the pace of everyone. Fine. I returned to him. Pulled up a chair and we spoke. He asked my name again. At the top of the month he went into the theater to have a tumor removed from his bladder and when they made the incision, they found a smaller tumor hiding being the large one. Both were removed. Afterwards, the pain kicked in and walking was very difficult so he was confined to a wheelchair. Immobility is an irritant to him and after a few days at home his wife concluded that she could not care for him so it was agreed that he be sent to a capable facility for a month. In the too much spare time that he has, he has been inching himself out of the chair and trying to stand. It is tiresome. But he is now at the point where he can walk with a stick and has been eagerly awaiting my visit so that I could work with him to speed up his recovery.
I started with his arms. He protested that his legs were the ones in need of massage. I continued to roll up his sleeve and told him that in my opinion, once the bladder has been tampered with, his urinary system has been generally affected. I explained that this system governed the bodily fluids and whether perceptible or not, his body would have been storing fluid in pockets here and there to compensate for the now incompetent job that his urinary system is doing. He said it made sense as he has gotten bulky and gained weight since the surgery. I could see evidence of edema and was glad that we could agree on that. He then took me around the world where he did lectures and stated how the Americans are now finding out that Hell is not a hot place, but rather a cold place. So cold, it burns. He said that he often found himself in cold places and would stop in the midst of a lecture to ask: what am I doing here? He was not made up for it, and thankfully, while it was not too late, he made a decision to stick with warmer climes. The story of many. He could not make that decision too soon or he would not have been able to build his house or have his most satisfying relationship with WASA.
He wanted to know where I learnt to do massage. My great grandmother was mentioned. He was glad that I mentioned her. Said that we like to believe everything is about academics, but it is the gifts that win the race at the end of the day. And we know that, but we play the fool. He then recounted how babies are be passed over coffins in an attempt to have the gifts of the dead transferred to the new life. If such great efforts are made to get gifts, then why, having come to our senses as adults and recognize our gifts, do we deny them and choose to pursue other avenues instead of developing these gifts? Economics, I guess. He spoke of death and rebirth through the eyes of various religions. He said if we stay still long enough like the Buddha under a tree, we would see it playing out in every aspect of life, and we would see that our fears in pursuing our gifts are unfounded, for if we crash land, we only need to wait long enough and our rebirth will take place. Comforting. Very comforting. To too few of us. Which is why we crash land. We resist the natural death of being square pegs in round holes, leaving death no alternative but to snatch us. Then we find ourselves flat on our backs at the lowest point of the highest height we had reached. And we look around, and we don’t like what we see. Why should we? We are in a grave. The idea is to look up. That’s where the light comes from. Look up and move towards the light. In so doing we discover another aspect of ourselves and we see that death was not as terrible as we imagined, and that rebirth is an overwhelmingly beautiful process. Best of all, we are so filled with appreciation for the minutest details of our lives that we don’t give too pennies about public opinion, anymore. It is often after such an experience that we are suddenly eager to utilized our gifts.
Being at the Home has brought home a few realizations and he feels a little more in touch with his fellow humans. So much so that when the Cook was leaving and did not tell him she was going, he pointed that out to me saying that he picks up things about people and he suspects that she is having domestic troubles based on her demeanor that day. He also sees that the residents are others in greater need and he chooses to have them take meals and use the facilities before him. And for all the urgency he feels to return to his normal life he is learning to respect the limitations imposed on him by his present condition. And, life continues to go on. His house in being maintained, and dogs are being fed, and his wife, who was supposed to take care of him, has suddenly required care herself and his son had to fly in to take up the slack. He remains hopeful that the remaining three weeks of convalescing will go well and he would return home. I could only hope with him, for the stories are many, and they are filled with lines upon lines of how they were lured from home under one guise or another and became permanent residents of a Geriatric Home. But I think he is suspicious that it could go either way. During the last moments of our meeting he spoke much of how God treated Moses the worst of all the Prophets in debarring him access to the Promised Land. If God could do that to Moses, and he has not accomplished 10% of what Moses did, then he has a right to be suspicious of God’s next move.