I am watching the continuous swirl of motion around here, while listening to the ongoing laments, many times shrill, always dark and foreboding. I am thinking: something is missing. Something indefinable and elusive s missing. And then it comes in a fateful rush that is as simple as it is profound: this land is not theirs. It is not embraced and treasured, nor held on to for dear life itself, as it is rarely seen for how it is and what it must be.
There are children, the house, the cars, and all the rest of material things, many times mortgaged and through indebtedness. Just like the collection of appliances and trophies, the job or the hustles, together the physical manifestations and bustle are very much present, the outward topsoil of appearance. And that is all. Because deep down, and for many, this land is not theirs; theirs to own in the spirit, and in which the heart and soul are buried irretrievably. Perhaps the actual thinking has not been this way; but the confirming inseparable identification, the unmoving attachment (wherever and however far one goes), and the irreversible immersion in what it means to be of the land are simply not what and where it should be. As in this land is mine; my land worth struggling for, agonizing and crying over, and even dying for, too.
It is that tomorrow can be better, but always somewhere else. Perhaps in another place, where the sun is not so weakening, or the rains so encroaching. The umbilical string is that stretchable, like dough kneaded to the governance of the mind, and of distant grassier visions. In a word: possibility. Oil is interesting; a speck of movement drawing near, but that lovely bird has to be in hand; in cash, with which I have objections. Yes, oil is a sweet local dream, but that North American dream is a more probabilistic one, satisfying one. It somehow has a greater feel, in spite of the haze of distance, the mirage of still unfulfilled promise.
For too many Guyanese today, this land is not viewed, not beheld, and not hugged as their land in that sacred timeless way that is the halo of a mother’s loving gaze. It is a foster world of function and convenience until the time and opportunity comes to break away when the weariness overwhelms. That comforting cocoon of patriotic phrases, which have stood suspended so tantalizingly over the decades: ‘One people, One nation, One destiny’ brings a warming echo, yet does not stir passions and memories and the mysteries of a heartfelt love just out of reach, one worth reaching for. I see this through the eyes and hearts of others: here today, gone tomorrow. That was me then; this is now. Still. Unlike me it is goodbye and good riddance.
Guyana: a stelling, a jumping off point, a hard, poignant place of no returning. Leh de try deh. The fires that flickered at low temperatures by the equator flare bright and hot in chillier spaces. Such is the pull and promise: Give everything, and get something. That land over there is theirs; pride inducing, swagger producing, condescension inculcating. Ask to give a little extra here, and it is: Who me? Not me! Ask for the giving of what is due, what ought to be part of the nourishment and growth of the soil at the hands and from the hearts of its own sons and daughters, and there is only resistance, neglect, even sabotage. Some spawns these are! Divided loyalties, conflicting priorities, settled visions leave the land weeping from the anguish of loss.
It is left with what is left: tenants never owners, temporary residents watching the clock, counting time. Until. Such are the passersby listening for, waiting on, and responding to the captivating siren calls from beyond. Have the oil; fight over it. Enjoy the results. Ah gone. Fuh good…. How to overcome, how to build? First, there has to be ferocious loyalty, not to party and princes of the moment; there has to be a greater and burning loyalty to the land. Can’t be measured. Sometimes it is not recognizable; but nothing can take its place. Nothing. This land is my land. It would be like a mighty heavenly chorus to hear seven hundred thousand voices crying that in unison, while feeling it and believing so with their all. That is another dream best left alone until another day. There are no ripe red hills in this gritty Georgetown of ours; just brown mud and parched spirits.