Guyanese people- men especially- have a love affair with songbirds. They spend thousands of dollars on them and mind them like babies, gathering only the tenderest shoots of grass and other delicacies for them. They take risks and pay bribes, smuggling them from the hinterland and over the seas. They can be seen every morning, gathered at the street corners and junctions. I don’t know what the men are talking about, but I know exactly what the caged birds are singing about.
There’s a column on rape and rape culture in my head. It needs to be written by noon on Wednesday. But every time I try to write, rage gets the best of me. It sticks in my craw, blinds me, and stops my hand. The fucking entitlement- on the part of men especially, who think they could just take what they want, whenever they want. The dearth of justice. The plethora of victims. The complicity of the community. Those who take better care of their birds than their children/families. Those who give and take money to make crimes disappear.
Civil society in Guyana is moribund. So says all the pundits, especially the ones who thrive online but who I’ve never seen standing up for anything in real life. What are you going to do about the X,Y,Z issue? I am asked over and over again. Laaaang suck teeth. What are YOU going to do? Those who sit and ask or who sit in silence or who sit and clap are all part of the problem. Those who pay more attention to their birds than anything else going on around them. Those who maintain the status quo.
The fog is upon me again. Everything feels gray. Joy is fleeting and scarce. There is too much crap to deal with and my resources are depleted. Only the children make me venture out. When I go other places, the presence of criminals, enablers, apologizers, and the blissfully and conveniently ignorant mars my enjoyment. I speak to friends and acquaintances from a far and scout escape routes again. I have started drinking hard alcohol again. The birds are too silent. Where are the songs of freedom? Longing for things unknown. Again and again.
By Maya Angelou