As I slog through the soggy slimy winter wonderland that is the Christmas season in Guyana, the sound of familiar lyrics and music rings in my head. There is a difference though.
I hear the children with the plaintive cry of: ‘Listen mama I want you to tell Santa Claus’ that 5% means nothing, is nothing. There can be no two front teeth; maybe not even two meals on the great day. Tell the big Santa Claus in State House that we are citizens too, and we are hurting badly not only in this special time, but all the time. You see Nat King Cole was right – there is no one to buy that little Christmas tree. Certainly not us and our folks; we just can’t on 5 per cent.
For those who wish for the children to be invisible, they should remember it is infinitely more difficult to keep them quiet. Thus, like Michael Jackson they will scream of ‘seeing mommy kissing Santa Claus last night’ (and every night); except, in this instance, the cheek-to-cheek is really a domestic early warning audit disclosure system between elevated official lovebirds.
Still, it is not all forlorn and in any way ‘A Blue Christmas’ à la Elvis for a chosen few here in Guyana. Ministers, well-placed servants, and procurement fat cats agree with Johnny Mathis that ‘It is the most wonderful time of the year;’ it is their favourite carol all year long, every year for the last twenty years. This is their mood and buoyant reality when like Nat King Cole they view all those ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ (and open air) only waiting to be grabbed and consumed.
And in the so-called commercial sector right here in the scorching tropics, there are those who join with Bing Crosby in ‘Dreaming of a White Christmas.’ They dream of how much of the white finely powered jollies they can export via sea and air, and boost the local GDP. Here in Guyana, the local wise men don’t bring frankincense and myrrh. They stick to gold and US currency ‒ properly laundered, of course. Can you not see the welcoming committee on Robb Street rolling out the red carpet with ‘Oh come all ye faithful…’ and remember to walk with your donations.
Last, I can hear those who effortlessly blend the heavenly and the earthly pleading for a certain little altar boy to pray for them. The problem is that they (politicians, contractual public servants, and businesspeople) simply have not gone astray; they have gone too far by far. There is no way back for any of them. They are past prayer, and beyond redemption.
In the meantime, I take comfort in the glorious promise of that ‘Holy Night’ knowing full well that there is a time for everything under the sun. For the untutored, that would be Ecclesiastes.