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The gun to our hearts

Published: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Last week, my take on the current extended wave of criminal violence invoked a metaphorical gun to our collective heads. I related my doctor’s tale. His deep sadness. The pervasive air of impunity, and the desperate prescriptions for brutish vengeance.

Then came Saturday and the lead pellets in little Candy Loubon’s body. On the front page of Monday’s T&T Guardian, the two-year-old is lying in hospital with two fingers in her mouth, a yellow-sleeved IV needle in her heavily-bandage left hand and a tiny neck brace that prevents her from nodding “yes” to anything. Candy’s eyes are fixed on Kevon Felmine and his camera.

It is the look a stranger gets from a child, just seconds from the crucial breaking of the ice and a transition to either smiles or tears. You can almost tell from her eyes, that Kevon, hard-nosed reporter and decent human that he is, had planned to extract a giggle, a show of scant teeth, a shade of laughter, anything but a look of pain.

The late, great Guyanese poet, Martin Carter, spoke of a “festival of guns, the carnival of misery”—a period in which “the stranger invader (is) watching you sleep and aiming at your dream.” None better than Candy’s image to capture the gun to our hearts and aimed at our dreams.

We should know that none of this started two and a half years ago, around the time of Candy’s birth. Or even after five years or tranches thereof—depending on the twisted imagination of the mindless partisan. It is in fact the rot of social and political aimlessness, and a descent as much rooted in authoritarian prohibition and religious fervour as in the creative disorder of a nation adrift.

How many in the jail cells weren’t whipped and slapped? How many didn’t go to school or church or temple or mosque?

And so pathetic and puerile has been official edict that prayer and flag and ritual are routinely proposed to simulate the impact of reason and science and interventions fed by fact. It cannot be that we are truly serious.

Within these very pages, some weeks ago, we explored the trauma of an angry society. People moved to irrationality, displaying an inability to confront conflict and change. Witnesses to growing impunity and inequity. Emerging from the darkness in Candy’s brace—incapable of signaling “yes” or even “no” to changing circumstance.

Instead, the quick resort to “we” and “them” and violence as if it persists in its own solitary right—a scar without an initial wound. How does the noose or whip really differ from the cutlass or gun in other hands other than being united by the cold blood of revenge of one kind or the other?

Here we are, looking and looking for different faces, different skins and different places of abode. Punishment barely distinguishable from revenge, yet reaping the whirlwind of collective neglect.

There must have been that moment when we determined that the best way out was through mindful violence. That because “we” can never be “them,” through pedigree, since victimhood remains the psychological domain of one and not the other.

Through this, some have lost the love of our land perhaps forever. Trapped though, by a thin strand, by all there is on offer in this tiny space—bounty upon bounty of music and dance and art and poetry everywhere as in Candy’s infant eyes on the front page of the newspaper.

In this resides our hope, if there had to be any. Those who speak of a “lost generation” do not know what they are talking about, are trapped by the message of terminal political wounds and are out of here anyway.

We who choose to remain do well to look and recognise the guns to our heads and are ever mindful of those aimed at our hearts. To do otherwise would be to die.