i woke up yesterday with a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach which may or may not have had something to do with the parakari i consumed the night before. it was world suicide prevention day- although when you’re a queer, mouthy womanist of Indian and Muslim heritage living in patriarchal Guyana- former suicide capital of the world (we remain in the top 3 still)- that’s pretty much every day ha. i didn’t feel like doing my morning yoga, but.. then i remembered the 5 minute perseverance trick which psychologists recommend to overcome depression, build your mental strength etc and pushed myself into downward dog. reading the news and social media bs afterwards threatened my fragile peace of mind though and i shut down the computer to go outside and romp with the puppy and cats, hoping that would help restore my tranquility. it did, but then the ground started shaking. it wasn’t another earthquake tho- just the roadbuilders arriving. i tried to ignore as best i could, but it’s not easy when chaos is directly infront of your eyes. almost 10 years of living in Guyana and i’m still struggling. i see them start digging and my heart skips a beat. there is a flambouyant tree nearby which has been there for several decades. at sunset, a roadside bar opens up beside it. sometimes the patrons play music too loud and bother me, but that’s not the tree’s fault. at dawn, before the roadbuilding project started, i used to see horses grazing under its shade. i haven’t seen them since the roadwork started though, not sure where they went.. i miss them. i peered from across the street, trying to see how close the workers and equipment are to the tree. the day goes on. i tried to concentrate on my tasks. but every half hour or so, to the window i went peeping, heart in my mouth. lunchtime came and i see the workmen taking a break, sitting on the benches under the tree to cool out. that’s a good sign, i think. but then they get up and start digging again. after all, you can’t get progress and development by remaining in corpse pose whole day, right. uh huh. progress and development. they’d already destroyed the sapling i’d planted by the roadside in front of my house in a spot where my neighbour had initially dumped a pile of sand. passersby had thought that the depression left there afterwards was someplace to dump their garbage; i got sick and tired of cleaning up after them and decided to plant a tree there instead, hoping that would stop the dumping. it did, to an extent, and i was happily watching it get taller and stronger each day. but then progress and development struck and before i could run out the gate with my shovel to rescue it, mr chinee man and his bulldozer had run it over and all i could do was shake my fist at them in impotent rage. the funny feeling in my stomach persisted. i started making plans. i would chain myself to the tree like the Chipko women! https://www.ecologise.in/2017/05/28/the-bishnois-indias-original-environmentalists-who-inspired-the-chipko-movement/i started writing a letter to the president rowing about the hypocrisy of “green” states that destroyed trees. a friend reminded me about the silk cotton tree in Mahaicony that they had to build the road around and advised me to tie some bottles and things on this one to try to convince people of its magical powers. (as if trees generating the oxygen which humans and other living creatures cannot exist without isn’t magical enuf..)https://www.architecturendesign.net/clever-buildings-whose-architects-refused-to-cut-down-local-trees/the more i thought, the more heated i got. it’s maddening indeed living in a country where people think picking up trash is being an environmentalist. where people think nothing of throwing their garbage into the rivers and waterways in the first place. where organizations allegedly dedicated to conservation and sustainability collect funding from oil companies that deliberately lied about climate change for decades. where folks talk about going green while sipping on plastic bottles of water. when more and bigger roads and vehicles on them are cheered as progress and development. when all the scientific data points to a sooner-rather-than-later environmental tipping point of no return but we still welcoming exxon with open arms and high hopes- best thing since colonialism! cha ching- bring we money! corpse pose here i come. before i collapsed on the ground however, i put on a bra and some non-holey pants and went outside. chinee man and i met halfway. uh, this tree- i said, pointing to it, not sure if or how much english he understood.. yes, yes? he looked at me inquiringly. “are you guys going to cut it down?” i blurted out. no no, he said, we stop before. work behind. is just one tree, a small thing in the grand scheme, but.. for me, twas the best part of my day.
- can you make oxygen?
- can you live without oxygen?
- is it progress when it destroys the things necessary to maintain life? or suicide?