Letters & Opinion

Tomorrow Today! Views from Memory Lane to Vision Avenue

Image of Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

On Wednesday (May 19) I woke-up a few hours older than when I fell asleep Tuesday night, but on Thursday morning I awoke a full year-and-a-day older than Tuesday evening.

So, what’s changed?

By my yardstick, nothing — except date, day and time… I still remain determined to continue being me – and continue to live for ever and ever…

Today is just another Saturday on my revolving calendar, but not just-another-day for many who spent yesterday and last night dreaming of and wishing for a better tomorrow – and better tomorrows forever thereafter.

I spend my days (and part of my nights too) doing my favorite kind of R&R — Reading and Writing – and doing the ‘Five Ws’ – searching the World Wide Web (www) day-by-day and hour-by-hour, searching for Who (did) What, Where, When, Why – and How.

After four short decades and four long years doing my same global do from home every day and night, I spent the last year learning to do it all differently — Under Lockdown, in Voluntarily Quarantine, Living and Working from and at Home Distance, while experiencing yet another manifestation of the eternal truism of ‘Once a man, twice a child.’

No, I wasn’t reduced to infancy, nor do I feel like a baby just when I have resolved to continue growing younger…

My ‘twice-a-child’ experience was spending the period since May 25 last year, in virtual solitary confinement on a bed, in a wheelchair, on a walker and between two different types of walking-sticks, after being hit by a racing car on a public road – one Sunday afternoon 51 weeks ago…

Indeed, on the same day the racist American policeman knelt on George Floyd’s neck on a roadside, I too was lying bleeding in the vicinity of the Conway roundabout on the Castries Waterfront, blood gushing from my head, my left leg smashed to smithereens and my back roasting on hot pitch, onlookers defying Social Distance to tele-shoot my image to Facebook – where my family saw me, just minutes after watching me ‘live’ on TV talking about African Liberation Day.

Today, three days before George Floyd and I share our respective lifelong anniversaries, I have lived to see his killer found guilty and sentenced to jail, his family get US $27 million — and President Joe Biden kneel before his son to apologize.

But, three days after my 65th birthday, at an age when People My Age look back and ahead and are encouraged to ‘Sit back, relax and watch the sun rise and set…’, I can’t even dare to even think of entertaining the thought of retirement – with or without pension.

Ever-optimistic even in the face of universal pessimism, I always look for the bright side of every dark cloud, the joke behind every serious matter and the sense behind anything anybody else considers foolish.

But I must say my optimism and pessimism today are at equal measures, like half-a-cup of water: neither half-full, nor half-empty.

Standing at the end of Memory Lane on Wednesday, I stared ten years down Vision Avenue and saw my then 24-year-old grand-daughter shaking her head while complaining of being obliged to pay, off her cryptocurrency account, accumulated interest on national debts incurred in her grandfather’s name.

She just turned 14 on Thursday (yes, the day after my birthday), not happy to learn she would be among those to repay the hundreds of millions incurred by politicians in her name even before she reached employment age.

And she can’t even vote…

I looked at how the gap between Debt and GDP grew between my 64 and like Popeye the Sailor, I ‘Shiver me Timbers’ just knowing that reversing that gap is going to take money we cannot print but hope and pray will come on ships with no ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).

I used to think I’d heard it all, but in this Age of Climate Change and COVID-19 in Century 21, I continue to hear more — and listen more…

I’m still being told there’s no connection between General Elections and the five-month extension of the COVID-19 emergency and that General Elections will be tied to achieving COVID Herd Immunity and that Election Day will depend on availability of COVID vaccines.

But then, we were also told that ‘General Elections will NEVER be held in an Emergency!’ – and now we’re hearing (words to the effect) Election Day will not be any time before October 15.

Another change definitely worth noting is in the broadcast media climate, where the climate has so drastically changed, with more senior government officers becoming Election Talk Show Hosts, radio and TV stations virtually falling from the sky, talk-show hosts really going berserk, ministers of government and religion switching roles while issuing threats and citing psalms without numbers like Guy Fawkes on Boxing Day.

Social Media hype is at its best: party leaders jamming the election jam on the Road to Jerusalema, the election bell ringing loudly in deafening silence but purely doctoral secret, while uniformed gamers pop only ‘pure yellow’ brands of election cola champagne.

The bell is ringing so loud that I often have to switch between headphones and earplugs, according to who’s on my screen on which device, or when schoolmates tell me their party delivered ‘400 things in four years’, but still needs ‘just four or five more months more’ after it’s allocated 60 expires.

Meanwhile, vaccine hesitance seems to have overflowed into the election sphere, some Cabinet ministers with too much wood in the fire fuming hot about keeping their timbers burning until they turn to ashes.

This being the first COVID Election to be fought here on the basis of rules defined and ill-defined, with fines and confines and emergency legislation policed under curfew conditions, this is going to be, if not

‘The nastiest election’ as long predicted, then certainly ‘The Mother and Father of All Elections’.

As I have always said in the past year, this is ‘An election neither party can afford to lose…’

One seems to feel it can afford to ‘buy a win’ at or by ‘any cost necessary’, while the other is equally confident ‘There’s no way those guys can buy a win…’

But with the election results ultimately in the hands of a very experienced electorate that’s three times shown it has a precise working formula for judging ruling parties at the end of each term, there can be absolutely no doubt that everything will be done to ensure history does or doesn’t repeat itself, a fourth consecutive time.

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