His body is sprinkled with pink dots, curly hair a damp mess and his breath is coming in short, very exasperated gasps. Georgetown is his problem and Guyana his main theme of conversation. He seems to have lost his love for our land. He is truly a foreigner.
And I begin to wonder, is there something wrong with him or is it that something is terribly wrong with me? Is he being a snob for panicking at the sight of cow poop – or perhaps you would prefer the term “manure” – in Georgetown? Or am I being too accommodating by accepting a big load of the thing on Vlissengen Road?
He tells me of the Garden City and I tell him of the Garbage City. He tells me of cane juice and hot hassar curry, dhal and rice from a market cook shop. Well I’m still a pure blood Guyanese so I tell him of the market flood waters, cockroaches, rats and diarrhoea – or perhaps you’d prefer the term “belly wuk” in this instance.
Of course all the talk about the glorious Georgetown was done before he took a trek through the place. His first day on Regent Street was wet and nasty. He swears to me now that he saw some cow poop on Regent Street too; he’s seen loads and loads of the stuff everywhere he’s gone. But I think that’s taking it a little too far. He must be exaggerating some.
Now all he does is complain to me about all the horrible, nasty things he’s seen in Guyana today. He’s a monster I created on my own and every time we speak all I hear from him is about the fallen state of a place I will always call home but a place he no longer considers home.
This is the constant song he sings to me. He is consumed by these images of our land. He is outraged, shocked and heartbroken. He believes Guyana needs a hero. He could be that hero but – and this is a big “but” right here – he has an Aussie wife he’d never bring to “this hellhole” and an American son he’s not willing to sacrifice as mosquito food.
And I can see the terror in his eyes. The man really is afraid for his child; he really thinks his child would become a sacrificial offering to the great mosquitoes of Guyana. The pink dots throughout his body – even on his nether cheeks – are testament to the damage these blood sucking creatures can do.
Then one afternoon we’re walking along a dam in East Demerara. Well he was tip-toeing around the mud and cow-poop; me I was the only one walking. And you know what he tells me? He tells me that I am responsible for the country being this way and the only reason I put up with the things around me is because I have no choice but to stay and deal with it.
Several seconds later, he tip-toes on to a piece of wood and it slides a short distance along the muddy dam, he loses his footing – well his tip-toeing balance – and in no time he’s on that pink dotted posterior of his looking up at me from the same mud he’d been refusing to touch for days.
Was I insensitive enough to laugh at the man’s plight? Of course I was. When he was 6 or 7 he chased cows on the very same muddy dam. And now at 39, after two decades in another country, he remembers his culture selectively.
So what does he want me to do – and this idea came from a good friend – walk around the country with a wheelbarrow and pick up the loads of cow poop around the place? Ha! I’d do it if he’d come with me so then we’d both look like crazy people or manure dealers at least! (firstname.lastname@example.org)