In these difficult days in T and T, I’ve been mulling over the morose, morbid perspectives, from columnists, on Facebook, on the radio, that seem to be everywhere. I’ve been wondering about my own emotional place in relation to them. Like everyone else, I’m disappointed in the failures of the Partnership government to do some basic things like pass the Procurement Bill (something I had scripted an If I was PM video blog on before I had the baby). I agree that the State of Emergency has left the population with no choice but to be more cynical, critical and suspicious of the government than before.
The crime situation severely affected my family years before this, leaving wounds that have not and may never heal. I’ve never felt safe in this country since, especially not in my home. And, like everyone else, I face declining real income, almost unmanageable costs of living, the virtual impossibility of owning a house and other things that make life feel vulnerable, precarious, unsafe and anxious. In the midst of that toxic cocktail, and attending to the public comment on our nation, I’ve been wondering why I don’t feel the caustic bitterness that I hear so much around me.
It’s not from not being affected or from not caring. Maybe it’s my personality, which is at heart optimistic and somewhat annoyingly cherry. Without a doubt, I’ve benefited from my parents climb from poverty. I’m clearly cushioned by having a job, a good one and one I work immensely hard and passionately at, one I’m lucky enough to want to work hard and passionately at. But I think the greatest cushion in my life, the one that somehow keeps me intellectually and politically engaged but also emotionally centred, is my family. I’m lucky here too, that we are all healthy, happy, housed and living in working harmony, and that neither state nor criminals have violated that…perhaps, as yet.
I lie in bed at night so unbelievably thankful for Stone and for Ziya, overwhelmed with appreciation for the blessing they both are, overjoyed by just our being together and aware of every single moment in all its preciousness that I find myself unable to connect to the kind of dark anger and despairing bleakness I hear in others’ voices . It’s not that I don’t understand them, and I don’t deny their validity. I just don’t feel it, without explanation or justification.
Maybe it’s just this moment. Maybe it’s just sheer exhaustion from being up night and day for the last year, working full time all the while. This first year of this new life called motherhood. I plan so many political blogs I don’t have the time to do. I used to be a veteran writer of letters to the Editor. I used to do a lot more TV political commentary. But, I’ve found myself retreating to this little, nuclear world that I hardly have time, energy or emotion for, writing here instead of to newspapers and spending weekends close to Ziya instead of undertaking the civic involvement I used to. It’s strange for me, just as strange as not being able to connect to the tone and language I hear and read.
Peggy Antrobus, grandmother of Caribbean feminism and one of my mentors, has reminded me on more than one occasion that women have life stages that need to be heard and honoured. I’m holding onto that. For me, the absolute perfection of my life, which is not premised on things being as I want or having all I want, is so fleeting and fragile that I find myself stopping in my tracks to acknowledge and absorb it, to let it sit in my hand like a resting butterfly. I’ve achieved something in my own life that I hardly knew before, stable love, quiet connection, functional parenting, and I walk around on a cloud like someone in love, suffused with sheer happiness. It’s unreal and seems wrong and apolitical and against all kinds of people’s expectations of what I should feel in these times of blood and hunger.
The truth is that I’m genuinely happy and that’s something I hardly hear anyone say, living as I do in a place where people are often either quarreling or feteing their cares away. I find myself interested in neither end of that pendulum. I’m happy to work hard as I do. I’m happy to spend my little time left over with Stone and Ziya, doing not much at all. I’m happy to spend quality moments with my few, good friends. The rest of the maddening crowd I’ve pushed to my periphery, perhaps only delaying its inevitable impact on this oasis. But, its from this oasis that I am encountering the world, seemingly at odds with its gnashing rage and depressed disillusion.
For this kind of transcendence, I’m grateful. This moment may not last and I cherish it’s cupping hand around me. There is more activism ahead, more political organising, more engagement with the world. But, here and now, I find myself feeling protective about my own sentiments, unwilling to be taken over by the mire and maya (my friend elspeth’s words) that seem to surround, self-conscious about the need to hold tight to an innner buoyancy I feel, and which feels true and real, despite or perhaps because of the way that realities are being constructed and commented upon around me.