must read audre lorde every day

“How much of this truth can I bear to see and still live
unblinded?
How much of this pain can I use?”

“And I find I must remember that the pain is not its own reason for being. It is a part of living. And the only kind of pain that is intolerable is pain that is wasteful, pain from which we do not learn. And I think that we must learn to distinguish between the two.”

“One of the hardest things to accept is learning to live within uncertainty and neither deny it nor hide behind it. Most of all, to listen to the messages of uncertainty without allowing them to immobilize me, nor keep me from the certainties of those truths in which I believe. I turn away from any need to justify the future- to live in what has not yet been. Believing, working for what has not yet been while living fully in the present now.”

“I have found that battling despair does not mean closing my eyes to the enormity of the tasks of effecting change, nor ignoring the strength and the barbarity of the forces aligned against us. It means teaching, surviving and fighting with the most important resource I have, myself, and taking joy in that battle. It means, for me, recognizing the enemy outside, and the enemy within, and knowing that my work is part of a continuum of women’s work, of reclaiming this earth and our power, and knowing that this work did not begin with my birth nor will it end with my death. And it means knowing that within this continuum, my life and my love and my work has particular power and meaning relative to others.”

Groundings Continues- 2yr anniversary

It’s been two years since we started going out on the streets of GT and grounding with our fellow Guyanese. The last year of the PPP administration and the first year of the Coalition govt. Two years during which the PPP-led government initiated a Commission of Inquiry into the events of June 13th 1980, the WPA joined with the PNC to oust the PPP from political office, and the Coalition gov’t dilly dallied in releasing the COI report. Two years and most of our Guyanese sistren and brethren we’re interacting with on the streets of Georgetown still don’t know who Walter Rodney was, other than somebody famous, or “the man who got blown up”.. I’m glad we’re still going out on the streets of GT and Grounding with our fellow Guyanese. Sometimes that two hour gyaff is the best, most inspiring part of the whole week, or month. It’s not enough though. Two years later, that’s even clearer.

WAR memorial2

My first interaction of the day was with a mosquito net vendor man. He wanted my falling apart copy of The History of the Guyanese Working People but when I said how I was sorry but I couldn’t give him, he was content to stand and skim through it. If someone sends me another copy, I promise to find him and give it to him. Several other vendors from around the area came by, happy to collect a free book for themselves or their children. Vending is a hardscrabble life; it’s not every day you get a sale, or enough to cover the cost of transp, or what you have to pay the City Council, so books- especially fiction, and especially when you’re fighting for your survival daily- often get deemed ‘extras’ which cannot be afforded. I’m glad we have books to give away for free, that loved ones from overseas can send us barrels and that we have surplus of our own to share. I feel a way though, about some of the American-themed stories like Clifford’s first Thanksgiving, and Clifford’s 4th of July. We are already inundated with so much foreign crap.. So much more to do..

mosquito net vendor reading rodney

vendor and little girl

I wish we had more regionally specific texts, more stories with black and brown people, more educational and skill building books instead of insipid romance and CIA-spy/thriller junk. But I try to make the best of what we have. More people reading more, I tell myself, is overall a great thing and how lovely that we can give them books for free. That’s one of my favorite things about doing the Groundings- the freeness and the feeling that on this day, for these two hours, we are sticking it to capitalism. One day, it must break, will break- this I know. This is what I live for.

attracted to the books

In the meantime though, I hold on tightly to my copies of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Groundings With My Brothers, and The History of the Guyanese Working People. I didn’t get to go to Red Thread to borrow Kofi Badu out of Africa, or Lakshmi out of India; next time hopefully. Deji comes with the other bag of books and is ecstatic to see How Europe Underdeveloped Africa; it’s almost like he’s meeting a good, old friend. He tells me (and anyone who will stop and listen 😉 ) about seeing that book in his father’s bookshelf back in Nigeria but not really understanding what it meant, until he came to Guyana and realized he was in the birthplace of the famous author. He gets more and more fired up as he speaks; I’m loving watching and listening to him. I’m sad though, to realize that most Guyanese- Rodney’s kinspeople- don’t share this same passion and pride.. We have so much more to do.

deji deep in conversation

Amaraydha comes and starts organizing the books lol. Vidya comes with the banner. There’s no place to tie it; I see him later just walking about with it, holding it spread out, kinda like a mad man. But he’s my mad man friend and I’m happy to see both he and Raydha smiling and gyaffing animatedly with people. Mel comes, with Maiya and more books. I am happy to see them. I wish we had more time to gyaff. I will have to make the time. I’m wishing it was less hectic, that I was able to have more quality gyaffing time with people. An African-Guyanese nurse and her son stop the same time as an Indian-Guyanese girl. I ask them what they think the biggest problem facing Guyana is currently and they both say race relations. So how can we change that, I follow up with. The girl talked about praying and having conversations with people, while nursey talked about the need to educate the children. So what do you tell your son, I ask her? Oh, he’s too small yet, she says. Neither she nor the girl look at each other while they are speaking, although they are standing right next to each other. I’m not really satisfied with the interaction, but they both need to go they say.. We have so much more to do. We need to move beyond superficalities and really spend time doing the hard but necessary work. We need more than to simply pay lip service to ideas..

IMG_2074

nursey and clifford

Elton shows up, surprising me and making me happy. A couple people who say they knew Rodney show up but I don’t get to really gyaff with them; somehow I am pulled in other directions. Deji gyaffs with one man and Amaraydha with the other (y’all share the stories, please!). I gyaff with a teacher who’s upset with the state of education in Guyana, but hopeful, she says at the end, that positive change is soon coming. Another mother with a small daughter is also hopeful about the change in government. She’s an especial fan of Dr. Roopnaraine, she says. I’m glad to see and hear from Indo-Guyanese especially, who are happy and hopeful about a non-PPP led government, but there are too many reminders of business as usual for me.. One of my longest and most spirited exchanges is with an Afro-Guyanese sister who’s passionate about Government doing for the people, but totally lacking confidence in individual people’s ability to make change. She’s from Berbice, the Corentyne, so most of her friends are Indo-Guyanese. But she never talks about race with them.. She’s afraid if she does, their relationships would crumble. So she’s willing to just ignore the elephant in the room. Even as it moves around, mashing arms and legs.. Oh Guyana.. Later on, I reflect on her lack of faith in individual people, and mine.

passionate deji n old rodneyite

amaraydha n good gyaff man

elton and erudite but hopeless woman

At one point, a big bellied man in an unbuttoned shirt and pants with unzipped fly stops by. The girl he pulls up next to gives him the side-eye. He picks up a children’s book and stands back a little, flipping through it. She holds her space. I don’t get to talk with either of them, but I am pleased nonetheless. This is another thing I enjoy about Groundings- that it brings together- even if just for a few moments- really disparate people. It’s quintessential Guyana; this place is full of contradictions. Like a schoolyard bully, some of them sometimes seem to threaten the very fabric of our nationhood. But sometimes, when one overcomes fear and revulsion and is able to stand up close with them, one realized they aren’t so disruptive after all, that there are shared similarities. I want the engagement to be less fleeting, but it’s at least a starting point, something to build on.

groundings scene- open shirt man

My last interaction of the day was with a young African-Guyanese girl with a beautiful Afro. She had no idea who Rodney was. She listened politely to Vidya who gave bits of his biography then asked if she could take a picture of us. I wanted her to leave with more than that tho, so I tried to tell her about Rodney’s role in the black power movement, something about black consciousness, people knowing their history. But I felt foolish, a gray haired, straight haired, looking at this young Afro’d woman with the blank eyes and camera phone and soon stopped. At least she got her picture..

After she leaves and all the books are gone- with the exception of two in Spanish and one in French- we pack up and hug up each other. Vidya reads one of Patrick George’s poems out loud to Natalie and me, and does a little dance on the street to the calypso that the nearby music cart is playing. But then it changes to Kick in She Back Door and we start cussing and walking away. Much more to do indeed. Groundings Continues.

natalie watching vidya w poems

little boy w books

vidya w indigenous couple

uncle elton

teaching love

Hanan Al Hroub’s ‘Global Teacher award’ is a victory for all Palestinian educators over Israeli occupation and PA corruption

first in class

mbeki

she came first in her class this term with 89%

mbeki in yellow

sometimes she goes to school without lunch because there is not enough money. and that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this girl child has survived..

yellow flowers

we picked these flowers up from the ground. aren’t they beautiful?

 

love in the time of wood ants

The destroyers snuck in when I wasn’t paying attention, when I was distracted, diverted by other matters. I’d lapsed, hadn’t been paying enough attention to the things I loved. Even though they were an important part of my life and meant a great deal to me and, and although I knew danger lurked nearby, I still didn’t pay them enough attention. It’s easy to slip up; there are many distractions in life. So when the agents of destruction snuck in, I missed them. They were able to set up shop and do their dirty work right under my nose without me being any the wiser. When I finally cottoned onto their presence, it was too late. Much damage was already done. The trail of destruction, tho now dry, had gutted several of my loved and treasured companions. The destruction was painful. It was ugly and made my skin crawl. I was loath to touch the things I had once caressed, inhaled, devoured greedily; they had been defiled, ruined. I wept. I got angry. I looked for someone to blame. I ranted and raged. But none of that could undo the damage that had been done. So, finally, I picked up the brush and started to clear away the dirt. It was the only and so the best thing to do. But it was not easy. It took a long time. I mourned all the while. But I also breathed. It could have been worse. The trail could have been hot/live and more damage could have been done. I salvaged what I could. I tried to see the lesson. They will always survive. Ok, so will I. One day/breath at a time. We will have to co-exist. But I must be more vigilant, must not lapse again. Patch up what can be patched up, replace what can be replaced, and move on. Tally the losses and realize they are fewer than feared and that even though there has been damage, most are still whole, albeit marked/smudged. Love them still, despite the imperfection, maybe even more. Forgive. It’s not like they willfully set out to hurt me after all. Soon enough all this organic matter will be consumed anyway. Until then- breathe, live, learn, love. And read.

holes

che

parable of the talents

pearl buck- total devastation

end of universe

steppenwolf2

uhuru empty

1984the ruined

buxton spice
with just a dusting of wood ants residue, my autographed hardcover buxton spice is a survivor!
frida
frida is also a survivor! she’s not fazed by a little ugliness
malcolm
malcolm just got a little browner..
farenheit 451- untouched
the untouched one there is.. drumroll please.. farenheit 451! incredible, no?

machiavelli

zenzele

ursula- eagle2

3 singles to adventure

3 singles- uncles name page

today we read poetry. next week, revolution

listening to the land

“I’m a slow learner. My school days were tough. My mother had 8 children. She tried her best but times were hard. If my family had money, things would have been better. I dropped out in the 4th form. My mother said just don’t make any children and try to do better for yourself.” She’s 26 now. She still doesn’t have any children. She sells sweeties, hair ribbons, and other little things on the pave in Georgetown. At night, she assembles and folds a newspaper she can barely read. She wants to do better though, to write CXCs next year, and get her driver’s license. Today, we read poetry. Next week, revolution.

flying fish

Groundings Continues: Animal Farm edition

“How ah look?” I asked Nichola as I prepared to leave the office with the salt bag slung over my shoulder. “Well, some people might think yuh run off and might want knock yuh and tek ‘way yuh computer, but at least the bag clean and it white, so it match your shirt.. And maybe somebody will feel sorry for you and give you a drop..” On that hopeful note, I went on my way. I’d left a backpack full of books by the sweetie and cigarette lady at the corner of Camp and Robb St, but had come to the Red Thread office to collect some more donated books for the Groundings. The salt bag was ½ full of books; on my other shoulder I lugged my laptop. The sun was hot hot as usual, but I had had a fortifying ital lunch of rice n pigeon peas, callaloo, pumpkin, bora and chunks from a rastaman at Bourda Market, washed down with a Banks at the former Jerries, and the shooting back pains as I walked had subsided, so I was good to go. Actually, I was still tired and sleep deprived from a busy week, but I was the one who had called the Groundings, so I had to show up. The two other Groundings stalwarts- Vidya and Raydha- weren’t sure if they were going to be able to attend, so, again, I had to show up. Nobody felt sorry enough for me to give me a drop, but I lightened my load a little by giving a book to my vendor friend who sells snacks across from the church on Hadfield st, and greased my conversational gears by giving a Whim update to two old timers by the gambling spot. By the time I reached the Groundings location, I was more ready. My backpack was exactly where I’d left it, as I had known it would be.

free books

Another vendor girl friend of mine who sells on Regent st was the first to pass by. She wanted to know if she would be getting a salary increase too. She augments her vending earnings by working part time at Stabroek News, folding the paper, earning $1300 a night. “We leave there late late sometimes,” she said, “and when other staff people don’t show up, that puts more stress on us.” We talked about public vs private sector then she picked up some books. She was taking them for her sister and niece. She asked me if I knew anyone who taught English. “For a child or a big person?” I asked her. For me, she said. She didn’t finish school. She folds the newspaper but can’t really read it. Raydha showed up at that point, diverting my attention and my vendor friend left. I write this to remind myself to pass by her spot tomorrow and set up a time to sit and read with her. That she felt comfortable enough to share that and ask for help speaks volumes; I love helping people who’re motivated to help themselves.

Lots of schoolchildren were passing by. A quartet of boys from St. Mary’s lounged on the railing next to us. Raydha valiantly started reading from Animal Farm to them, but they were more interested in checking out the girls passing by than interacting with her. It’s hard to compete/divert teenage hormones, which I’m sure she’s familiar with, as a teacher.. Hah. A grandmother stopped with her teenage daughter in tow, with the grandmother trying again, rather unsuccessfully, to divert her granddaughter’s attention to the books instead of the teenage boys. While grandma perused the books, the smiling girl played hide and peek from behind a post with the boys. “Hello- you never see boys before? They don’t have boys at your school?” I try to say it jokingly, but her behavior was irksome. And/or I’m just getting old. Grandma ends up choosing a book about finding the right career, “for her,” she says, and we gyaff about the salary increase while the hide and peek game continues. Granny is disgusted by the increase. I tell her about our picket plans for next week and she promises to attend. I wish, in retrospect, that we had made flyers or handbills to give out, but a- that takes money and b- many people can’t read. I think I’ll still do some for next time tho, cuz I know how easy it is to forget things without a reminder.

raydha reading from animal farm

Anyway, soon the boys drift off and a couple teenage girls stop; we have an actual conversation. They have opinions about the salary increase; one’s mom is a head mistress and she doesn’t think it’s fair, her daughter reports. They are Afro and Indo Guyanese and seem like good friends. I’m reminded of them later when a young Afro-Guyanese woman asks to touch my hair, saying that she’s never touched an Indo-Guyanese person’s hair before (not counting weaves). This is someone who was born, raised, and lived in Georgetown all her life. Her statement flabbergasted me. I let her run her fingers through my hair, warning her tho, that I hadn’t shampooed it in a while..

Anyway, back to Groundings. The Afro-Indo couple of friends want to know what we’re doing, about this whole free book thing. I counter by asking them if they’ve ever heard of Walter Rodney. They know that he was a politician, that he’s dead, and that there was some investigation going on not so long ago. I ask if they know how he died. “His ex-wife stabbed him!” one of the girls exclaims excitedly. Thankfully her friend corrects her and my hope in the youth of today is resurrected. Another young woman stops and asks if we have any romance novels. We don’t, but she picks up the #1ladies detective agency story that we have after I tell her that it’s set in Botswana (I don’t tell her tho, that it’s written by a white man heh). At first she says the increase is a good idea, but she’s talking about an increase for public servants, not the politicians (although they are public servants as well actually..) She changes her tune as soon as she understands the real situation. Without any prompting from me, she gestures to the big big construction going on behind us, and talks about the rich getting richer while the poor continue to struggle and suffer. Another young woman says that she wants to be successful in business so that all Guyanese would know her name. There are other ways to get famous, you know, I tell her. Look at Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, etc. I’m not an activist, she sniffs.

schoolgirls and pilesA big woman and big man stop to gyaff. The woman says how they should be happy and take whatever they are given but again- she’s talking about the public servants, not the politicians. I try to explain the difference- that the politicians are the ones calling the shots, and again, she too changes her tune when she gets the full understanding. It becomes increasingly clear that many Guyanese are not really following the situation, or are confusing issues. This is troubling, as that is exactly how dictatorships flourish- not necessarily by bashing people’s heads, but simply by keeping them ignorant. I’m glad now to be Grounding.

apnu-afc ya lie

A guy who I’d seen a couple of days earlier in the ‘bush’ passes with his young daughter. He had impressed me then as a hard worker and now, seeing him with his daughter, he impressed me further as a good dad. I’m sorry that I don’t have any children’s books to share, but hopefully that will be remedied next month when the barrel arrives.. Another father, with a son this time, also stop. The boy chooses the book with a picture of the pyramids on the cover. Again, I inform them about the picket plans for next week. Another student, from Bishops’ this time, stops. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up, a chemist, he says,. I encourage him and ask his opinion on the salary increase. Unfair, obviously, he says. Our teachers need to be paid better. Harmon, Trotman, Granger- are you listening? From the mouths of babes..

Earlier, another little boy had stopped and picked up the ‘Explore Guyana’ magazine with the picture of Kaieteur Falls on the cover. He liked Maths, he said, and wanted to be a soldier when he grew up. “A soldier,” I exclaimed! “Why?” “To defend my country,” he said exuberantly, then ran away before I could tell him that he better study Spanish. Couple more teachers stop by, including one who teaches at Golden Grove. She picks up two books, for two of her students, she says, who like to read. She’s planning on giving them the books as prizes. I am glad to have a hand in this, however tangentially. Ms. Golden Grove is familiar with ‘Animal Farm.’ The students have to read it in Grade 7, she says. It’s a good book. The Afro-Indo schoolgirls are still hanging around, listening to the gyaff. They’d never heard of Animal Farm so I ask the teacher if she would summarize it for them. It’s about power, she says, and how it corrupts. This teacher though, does not condemn the politician public pay increase. She is happy to have gotten a higher-than-usual increase and while she only believes in God, she’s confident that next year, she and her teacher pals will get the full 20% as promised..

teachers with animal farm

Some more female students stop by and again we engage in a spirited conversation about the salary increase. Clearly unfair, they said unanimously.A couple more teachers, with decades of combined experience stop by. Vidya shows up at this point and engages them for a little while. The bits and pieces of the gyaff which I hear has to do with the numbers of boys vs girls in school. There is a serious problem indeed; has been this way for years. The books are almost all gone at this point in time. It’s only been an hour. The teachers say they have books of their own that they need to get rid of, that they will bring to the next Groundings. We encourage them to attend the pickets next week as well.

vidya gyaffing w teachers

A young mother asks for one of the two copies of Animal Farm that I have been reading from. She reads to her daughter regularly, even though she’s only 18 months old and doesn’t understand everything. I crack up, especially when I remember that a Marxist website had Animal Farm listed as a ‘fairy tale for children’. It’s great tho, when I hear things like that, and meet people who restore my faith in humanity. I give her one of the copies and we make plans to meet up when she finishes reading it for her to tell me what she thinks about it. I leave to go get the snow cone with condensed milk that I’ve been craving since the day before. All in all, another successful Groundings! Join us next time.

How Hamilton Green saved the Walter Rodney Groundings Continues crew: A GT Odyssey

I’m not sure why but I woke up yesterday feeling like the sky- leaden and overcast. It had already been a very ‘full’ week, with lots of high and lows. I was still missing the sight of Mamasita’s sweet brown eyes and wagging tail at the gate and on the road every day. Missing also was Courtney Crum-Ewing during the opening of the People’s Park and Parliament on Wednesday; the fact that the occasion fell on his birthday made it all the more bittersweet.

On Thursday morning, I fielded a call from a cousin of mine who I haven’t heard from for months, not even during Bheri-gate. He was calling now to let me know that his son- who has been going to private school all his life- had gotten into QC. “What I didn’t do, my children doing,” he said to me emotionally, telling me also that he remembered how I had been the ‘top girl’ in Guyana when I wrote Common Entrance, eons ago. I was left momentarily speechless. Yes, and I had also been valedictorian and voted the one ‘most likely to succeed’ out of my high school class, but the fact is that as soon as I got to college and started broadening my horizons and honing my critical thinking skills, my definition of success changed radically, to put it mildly. In the end, I congratulated the child, told him to keep up the good work and that learning was a lifelong process, and bigged up my cousin for being a good parent.

Later that day, I went to the drop in center. Four year old J, who really needs to be somewhere more age appropriate, who is both the youngest and the loudest child there, who last week ripped multiple pages out of one of the story books, came in and started flinging books around, as usual. He’s going to school, but what he’s learning there, I’m not sure. Not wanting a repeat of the page ripping, I grabbed him and imprisoned him in a wraparound hug. I’d tried this before and he had squirmed out, but this time he stayed. I tickled him a bit and he giggled. Then, when I tried to remove my arms, he reached out and wrapped them back around himself. And so we read, quietly and peacefully. A, who had been running around outside, put on a shirt over his sand-streaked back and came inside to read when I called his name. L, who has also been doing more playing than reading the last couple of weeks came in towards the end and picked up a book. One of the older girls read to one of the younger ones.

Many of the children still aren’t going to school and too many of the ones who are in school are still struggling with the basics, still too far behind where they should be. Troubling also, is the lack of empathy and attention being paid to positive emotional development of the children. J is always screaming and lashing out because he’s always being tormented by the older children. As we read, I asked B, another slightly older boy, to describe the feelings of the people in the picture. “Happy,” he said, when the image was clearly not. “Are you sure?” I asked again and again he said happy. Depressing also was the gaggle of schoolgirls on the bus singing along to the vulgar song lyrics. Still, giving that hug to J, and getting him to sit quietly and engage with a book was my marker of success for Thursday.

Later that evening as I tried to respond without sighing to the UG student as she asked the perpetually aggravating “So, you really never wanted a child of your own” question, I thought about all the people like Anil Nandlall and others who pay huge sums of money to artificially inseminate themselves when thousands of children languish in poorly-run facilities, and all the others in families but who still don’t get the care, attention, and access to opportunities they deserve because of lack of financial resources. While millions are spent on things like Commissions of Inquiry that go nowhere, and accomplish nothing more than distributing state resources to those who don’t need them one whit. And so I awoke yesterday, feeling leaden and melancholyish. I’m not a patient person and waiting for change and justice is not easy for me.

I had been looking forward to this day though. It was our one year anniversary of Groundings. We started last June, by the police outpost in Stabroek. Now, as then, most Guyanese in the street still don’t know much about Walter Rodney- just that he was a ‘freedom fighter’, was murdered, and whatever else they’ve gleaned from the news stories about the COI. Last year, I had taken copies of his books for people to check out and read from, but this day, with my head dull and clouded, it was all I could do to drag myself out of the house. We’d wanted to do something big, but people’s schedules and the wet weather had dampened our spirits and plans; books and Guyanese don’t do so well in rain after all.. And so, without much planning, like salmon simply following their instincts back to their homegrounds, we ended back at the last spot we’d grounded at- on the pavement outside of Parliament building. We’d last grounded the week before the elections, with lots of folks and gyaffing. This time it was just me and Vidya.

I tied the less-than-impressive homemade cloth banner on the iron Parliament fence and we spread out the books on the cloth on the ground. They went quickly; several people taking more than one. I began forcing myself to interact with folks. A woman picked up one of the slim volumes of poetry and I asked her to read a poem to me. She read about the shadow of a strawberry tree and my mood started to lighten. It was as if someone flicked a switch inside my head; it was that immediate and apparent. Amazing. I thanked her and she went on her way. A St. Stanislaus student picked up another of the poetry volumes (thank you btw, Anouska, for all those!). She writes poetry, she said, but it HAS to rhyme. Oh no, I said, and we went back and forth about that for a little while. I challenged her to explore different types of poetry, including the none-rhyming ones and eventually she said she would. Another schoolboy picked up the booklet of Afro Guyanese proverbs and dutifully read aloud to me. I was curious to see if the Creolese ‘translations’ would go over any easier than the ones written in standard English, but he seemed to stumble over them both equally. I encouraged him to read them with an adult or older person (you should have been there, Charlene!) Gyaffed with a couple parents and students what they thought about the private vs public school story and most agreed that the public schools needed to be improved.

Around this point, two City Constables came up and told us that we’d have to move, that things had changed and they had orders to keep the pave in front of Parliament clear of junkies and the like. But we’re not junkies, I protested and we will move, just as soon as we finish giving away these books. The constables were firm tho- we would have to move, even if we weren’t junkies. Just now, just now, we pleaded. The sky was still overcast; rain still threatened. If it rained, then we’d move, but to do so otherwise would have been a pain in the butt and I just didn’t feel up to it. “I know you all are just following orders, so can I talk to your supervisor?” I asked. No, no was their response. “Go and tell them is Kissoon and Nageer out here,” Vidya tried. Another man who had been gyaffing with us also told them something about “this is the woman who Bheri…” and “they’re good people..” and eventually they walked off. In the hullabaloo, several children passed by and scooped up armfuls of books. Yes, they were going to read all those, plus they were carrying some for other people. Ohk, I said, still mentally questioning the veracity of their statement. There are several used books vendors around and truth be told, the thought had passed my mind that that was one avenue I could explore, if my bills ever got too big. Maybe that was the business these children’s family members were into. I didn’t really mind tho; after all, who can get vexed at children for taking books?

The two City Constables came back. Y’all have to move. I sighed. It’s not that I’m against following the rules really, it’s just that when the rules make no sense and when people use fear and threats instead of reason and critical thinking that I get irked. The constables were clearly afraid of their supervisor. I dug out my cellphone. “I actually have Hammie’s #,” I said out loud. “Should I call him?” I mused. I’ve never done that before- called some bigwig for a favor. “Call, call!” Vidya and the other guy encouraged me. Vidya wanted to witness the karma of Hamilton Green coming to the rescue of a Walter Rodney-inspired Groundings event and because my head was now feeling light light and I too like karmic jokes, I made the call. “Hello, Mr Mayor. I’m, um, having a slight problem here..” Where are you and I’m on my way was his response. I don’t want y’all to get in trouble, I told the city Constables, so maybe y’all can just go around the corner and watch or something. They looked at each other and walked off again.

A man with a pink plastic beaded necklace and some wood in his hands, who looked like he might be homeless, came up and looked at the remaining books. He picked out the one he wanted and I asked him where he lived. On the street, he said. “Are things any better now?” I asked him. It’s cleaner, he said, and he feels better. I wanted to talk to him more, to find out if the city Constables are giving them more or less problems, where he goes when it rains/floods etc, but then he wandered away with his book. Another man with a case of GT beer on his shoulder stopped and asked for a nice book. There were only a couple left. “Um, what you mean nice? You want mystery? Romance? Thriller? You could put down the beer and look at them for yourself, you know,” I told him. But maybe he knows me better. He kept his hands firmly on the case of beer and pointed to The Odyssey. “Oh, you picked a classic there!” I said (don’t ask me to tell you anything more than that heh). He grinned back and cheerily posed for a picture. That’s when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Mayor’s vehicle roll up. He didn’t get out, just rolled down the window and spoke to the two Constables who had re-appeared. Wave, wave, and he/they disappeared again. 🙂 Neither Vidya nor I got to ask him anything about Walter Rodney, but at least the harassing Constables went away. The last books were snapped up by two women, one with a big Afro. They wanted to know what we were really doing and I told them. Then I asked the woman with the Afro if that was her real hair or a wig. Oh geez you, she laughed, before telling me it was a wig. The end 🙂

Vidya and I stood by the fence a little while longer, gyaffing, until one of our long-lost friends reached. Some people drove by and asked us what we were doing there and Vidya joked that we were chaining ourselves. Another time he said that we were waiting to sneak in. I shook my head and inched further away from him. Another friend came by late but gave us nice nice gifts to share out at the next Groundings. We decided, in the interest of not having any further run-ins with the City Constabulary, that we’d go by the People’s Parliament pavement instead next time. Or, if the weather gets nicer, maybe we’ll finally have that picnic in the Gardens, maybe by 7 Ponds 😉 Look forward to seeing you.