The water truck cometh
IT took almost a full week for our cries to be heard. "Please, if we can get some water... Please send the water truck, please, please...".
In times gone by, we would've had no need to beg. The stream at the edge of our backyard would have provided some relief, but this waterway has been smitten too.
In all the years we've lived in the area, we've never seen it so bad. This is the same river bed which in hurricane and flood season would be transformed into a roaring lion, tearing at everything in its path, ripping out any plants, be they expensive orchids or wild bush. It had no mercy. The crystal clear water became "dutty and angry", rushing and foaming as it hurried on its way down from the hillsides to turn everything into mud.
On normal, pleasant days, it sang its way over rocks to freshen up colonies of watercress or send little river shrimp hopping and skipping. After a hard day's work we looked forward to the river song to drive away the worries and frustration. We love to boast to friends about "OUR river". Now, there is no "OUR river". In its place there is a grumpy, sullen trickle, controlled by the monster drought.
With the taps run dry, we have joined the many citizens barraging the National Water Commission with the cry, "Send the water truck, do, ah beg you please". After all, water is life, don't it? It has taken us just over a week before a vehicle grudgingly rumbled up the hill, bouncing over the pop-dung goat track which passes for a road in our neck of the woods. My faithful housekeeper rushed like a gold-hungry competitor at Commonwealth Games to get everything she could find to store the precious fluid. How long the water will last remains to be seen.
Everywhere you go there are persons cursing the drought and looking for scapegoats at whose feet the blame for "dry wedda" should be laid. It is a long time
since we experienced water shortage like this, but we have faith that the little stream will come alive again. Till then, we must deal with a wave of cynicism. Why didn't they know that drought was coming? Why didn't they make appropriate preparations -- like filling bathtubs, basins, frying pans and Dutch pots? Then we could wash as many cars as we wish, shower every hour if we so desire and tell the NWC "gweh" if they ever dared to send us a water bill.
Did we conserve, too? No! We continued to add water to our rum and treat our new car to three bubble baths a day, and why not? After all, since we have to pay the bank so much towards the loan, surely the car should be treated like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her prince, yuh nuh!
Let that be, we have more real worries to worry bout — like what the drought is doing to the produce in the fields. The weather people tell us not all of the island is experiencing dried-up crops. But, as you know, bad news is hot news.
We seem to be ignoring the fact that some parishes are blessed. Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, and Trelawny are listed as escaping the crisis. But in other areas things are rough. Farmers in St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St Thomas, even the normally verdant Portland, are in deep problems. The irony of this time is that, just as the public has begun to buy into the "Eat what we grow" campaign, and "healthy eating" has become high fashion, vegetables and other vulnerable produce are wilting under the relentless sun.
The Acting Minister of Agriculture Derrick Kellier, who is holding the fort while Roger Clarke is on sick leave, has reaffirmed that not all farmers have been wiped out; but that doesn't mean we're not in a problem. He came out against profiteering by vendors who are already inflating prices, as a visit to the market will prove. Benham's economic theories about supply and demand are out in force. Prudent shopping is recommended. Inflation is already affecting restaurants and other establishments in the highly vulnerable food trade. Come on rain...fall nuh!
First-a-August come again. I don't understand why some people persist in saying "we have no freedom". Obviously, we have different perceptions of what it means to be free. From some of what is being put forward, one could get the impression that freedom is some kind of long weekend beach party. The blame for our backwardness and limited knowledge of our history must be laid at the door of an education system which is still timid about teaching a new generation the reality of what our forebears went through. When we can equate passengers packed in a bus to the cruelty of the countless number of slaves thrown overboard in the Middle Passage, then we need some new learning.
How many students are taught about slavery and its aftermath and the consequences which we feel even today? As to the matter of reparation, why do some persons understand while others either dismiss it as a joke or prejudice against Backra? If we don't know that we don't know, then we won't know and will continue to live in a state of blissful ignorance.
Look among those expensive booklists for schools. Tell me how many titles you find recording our early heritage and the experiences of our ancestors or those showing how to guide our young people to recognise who and what we are? Where is the book on Mr Garvey and the other heroes, which can lead us to treat them seriously like other people treat their ancestors? How long will this continue? August 1 has become synonymous with bikinis and beer on the beach. Aren't we worth more than that?
A claim is being made by two persons that they are actually Jamaican Tainos. While not disrespecting their claim, such information raises the question, what does "out of many" in our National Motto really mean? Long ago we used to refer to "Arawaks", now, the correct name is Tainos. It has been taken for granted that they are/were extinct here. If we have such among us, we should seek to give authenticity to the claims.
National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante used to boast that he was an Arawak. Busta being Busta, no one took it seriously. It was neither proved or disclaimed. Nobody bothered to prove or disprove. It seemed so implausible. What if it were true? The same goes for the recent Taino claim. What does it mean? Aren't we even the slightest bit curious? Aboriginal people don't turn up 'just so'. The media made a big to do about it, but the need for authentication received little attention. Nothing is wrong with asking questions.
Happy Emancipation Day to you. Next week we will pay attention to Independence. Whether the two names should be linked as one is concerning some people. Personally, I don't really care, so long as we never forget their importance and treat them with respect.
Enjoy the holidays, but don't forget the meaning.