Happy PRIDE, Guyana

Pride is about being able to walk the streets of your homeland in peace, without fear of persecution for being and expressing who you are. it was wonderful to see so many people out yesterday, joyfully living their truths. i remember the last time such a parade was attempted in Guyana (yes folks, contrary to reports- yesterday was *not* the first time a pride parade was held; some of us with longer memories would remember a walk organized in 2014 by the late Zenita Nicholson..) Some people wore brown paper bags over their heads then, and we were reluctant to take and share photos. some participants of that 2014 event reported experiencing victimization afterwards- from persons who saw them or their pics. fast forward four years later, and boy, what a different scene it was in Georgetown yesterday! lots of work is still needed- both within the LGBTIQ community, as well as in general Guyanese society- there is still a lot of internalized homo, bi, and transphobia, and intolerance from religious fundamentalists/evangelists and discrimination against LGBTIQ persons still exists in multiple sectors, both private and public (at another event earlier in the week a gay Guyanese man talked about the ostracism he experienced from his family members and his deep pain and sadness at the 19 years he has waited in vain for contact and acceptance by his children). things are changing for the better though (no thanks to the spineless politrickians). it was a very pleasant surprise to find that most of the persons standing on the outskirts of Parade Ground were not our opponents, as we had initially assumed; in fact, most of them turned out to be family members and friends. only two persons refused the free stickers that we were handing out and i only saw one man haranguing us in the name of Jesus as we paraded past him. he got some free dutty wines in response but then we moved on, living and letting others live. Happy Pride, Guyana. #keepprogressing #onelove #liveandletlive #celebratediversity #alutacontinua




My Independence Pledge

My Independence Pledge

I pledge to work on freeing myself from negative self talk that keeps me from having a healthy relationship with my self and others. [How/Method: Focus on the breath instead of the negative train of thought. Acknowledge the emotion/reason causing the eruption of negativity and address *that*. Journal. Step away instead of getting carried away. Count to 10 or 20. DEEP BREATHS]

I pledge to work on freeing myself from fearing, judging, and damning others who are different and/or who hold different opinions/political ideologies from me. [How/Method: Look for similarities; don’t just focus on the differences. Agree to disagree. Dialogue]

I pledge to work on freeing myself from the jumbies of the past so that I can enjoy a bright future. [How/Method: More therapy. More rituals. More focusing on the PRESENT]

I pledge to work on freeing myself from Big Capital and the scourge of overconsumption. [How/Method: Don’t buy more than what is needed (do regular inventory). Produce more things for myself- toothpaste, detergent, etc (cat food?). Barter. Grow more]

I pledge to work on freeing myself from plastic. [How/Method: Walk with own, reusable bags, food containers, utensils, and bottles. Stop using straws. Stop buying individual bottles of water/bags of juice; drink coconut water from the nut instead. Make and use cloth wraps instead of plastic bags. Buy bulk instead of individually packaged items.]



arundhati on the corporate revolution





cherlimbi to the werl

these trees survived the big flood of 2005. one, by the front gate, has been there for several decades; i remember plucking fruit from it as a child. the official name is Averrhoa bilimbi, but its ‘call name’ in Guyana is sourie due to its mouth-puckering taste. although i’ve already harvested a big bowlful and made several bottles of achar, given away bag-fulls to friends and neighbours, there’s still more. i go online and find a toffee recipe-  http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mag/2003/01/26/stories/2003012600380700.htm, and here- https://www.fruitsinfo.com/bilimbi-tropical-fruit.php, but.. i’m not ready for that just yet.

Averrhoa bilimbi. aka sourie. or 1 finger in Guyana
sourie aachar. w loud tiger teeth and green mango

the cherry trees are in the backyard, at the side of the old pit latrine. often, the cherries end up being blown down on the ground by the wind before i get around to wandering back there and harvesting them. it’s not easy to pick cherry- they’re small to begin with and i seem to drop about as many on the muddy ground as in the bowl. dry branches scratch my skin and get stuck in my hair but i’ve woken up in a good mood and even though the skies are grey, i’m humming and enjoying the droplets of rain misting down on me. the kittens join me in the fun but we’re all careful to avoid the marabuntas nesting close by.

oj under cherry tree. all those little green spots you see on the ground are seedlings from all the unpicked and fallen cherries.
cherry blossom, guyanese version

the initial blend is a tad sour so i add a couple of cucumbers that i initially bought to put on the dark circles under my eyes. they lighten up the mixture and honey and sugar add sweetness. i pour into some empty tequila bottles that i just happen to have lying around and swirl vigorously. aaah, cherlimbi to the werl! try something new today, folks! 🙂



the sexiest woman alive

she’s in her 50’s- a ‘big’ woman as they say here in GT. her skin is jamoon-dark and there is a large scar running all the way down her left cheek. we’re talking about love and madness, why women stay in abusive relationships.

“i does tell myself that i’m the sexiest woman alive!” she declares.  “my chirren dem does laff, but i doan kay! is for me, i does tell them.”

she has raised two sons to do for themselves- “i doan hafta cook unless i feel like it, and if they aint want eat what i mek, they cud hustle they own pot. they does do their own washing too! i tell my daughter not to wash for them, or to mek dem pay her if they ask her to wash their clothes. and when my gentleman comes, he does gotta dish out his own food.”

self esteem is super sexy indeed..



failing the children

She was 10 the last time I saw her, at the Drop In Center before the deadly fire. She and her 9 year old sister had been named after the famous African-American tennis playing champions, and like them, they were beautiful and spirited. Now 13, she’s still slight and smiley. The big difference that I note right away is her big belly. She’s back home with her mother and 5 siblings in a dwelling in Sophia where locks are regularly broken and a rainy night means getting wet and sleeplessness; she yawns during much of our conversation. It’s a girl, she tells me, due in about two months. She doesn’t know the word ultrasound but nods affirmatively when I describe the procedure. I ask if she’s going to clinic, about her blood pressure, if she’s eating properly. The doctor told her to eat more fruits, she says, but mommy aint getting pay. Her mother is a domestic worker; she hasn’t gotten paid in two months. Di money gotta come from New York, she says, as if that explains everything. She still has dealings with the State- there is some pending court matter, not related to the pregnancy. When I ask if she understands what’s going on in court, she drops her head and admits that no, she doesn’t.

She knows about other things though. She knows about Serena Williams and her baby girl. She even knows Serena’s white man’s name. She knows that her child’s father could be charged for having had sex with her and that she’s not going to be able to put his name on the baby’s birth certificate. She only had sex with him two times, she said, and the first time was her first. He’s 19, she reveals, and Amerindian. She hopes their baby will be cute. He doesn’t have any other children, as far as she knows, although he had gotten one of her friends pregnant before hooking up with her. He broke up with that other girl after she threw away the belly, she tells me and now the girl wants to fight her. She doesn’t know exactly where in Essequibo he’s from though, nor when she’ll see him again. He came to town looking for work but there was none so he’d gone back. He’d given her a ring but don’t ask her where it is now; people are always going through and taking her stuff. She has to get a case like what lawyers have- with a combination- then her things will be safe.

So how y’all managing, if mommy aint getting pay, I ask. Her big sister is working, she says. She’s buying the baby’s things, little by little. The fruits vendor passes by as we’re talking and I buy her some bananas and mango which she eats quickly and quietly. Sometimes she goes to sleep without any dinner, she tells me. Today though, mommy left a tin of sardine which she has to fry up when she goes back home, for her younger siblings. I know about sardine and rice- it’s what I feed my cats. The tins of sardine are expired, I found when I checked- that’s why it’s so cheap in the market. But when you’re on a budget, you take your chances. One tin, mixed with rice, is breakfast and dinner for cats or people. Unless you’re pregnant and throw up if you smell, much less eat certain things.

In a functional society, where leaders understand and care about their people, all pregnant girls and women, especially underage ones, would receive free healthy food throughout their pregnancy and beyond. Clinics, hospitals, and health centers would dispense fruits and vegetables along with injections, pills and advice; heck, there would even be rooftop gardens where patients and their families could assist and learn in before they go home, as part of their recuperation. In a functional society, especially one with abundant and fertile farmland, no one would ever go to sleep hungry. Yes, there is a big yard where she’s living, she says. So you could plant some callaloo and suh, I say. She disregards my suggestion. I try again- even if you don’t like to eat it, other people would use it. You could sell and make some money. She knows the importance of money- who doesn’t in today’s society. But there are still major disconnects. Especially when you’re still a child yourself.

We talk about school; she knows to read, write, and spell she declares, but she’s not interested in books. She tells me about some fancy phone and some other teenage girls in her neighbourhood who have babies. In return, I tell her about birth control, describing the various options. I tell her that abortion is legal and available. She counters with the Bible and sin and what her mother says. I rage at how much we are failing this generation, how poorly the hours in school prepare them for real life, how little we seem to care. I think about all the girl children I knew from the Drop In Center, and how many of them I’ve seen afterwards on the road, with big bellies. There still isn’t any comprehensive sexuality education in public school, much less in the private, religious ones. Predictably, we still have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the region, and almost half of all children under 16 are still living in poverty in Guyana.

How do you feel about having a baby, I ask curiously, as she prepares to leave. She looks at me, with a tiny smile. No way, she says.