Ah hungry!

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 27, 2019

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOSKIE is my best friend but sometimes he does try my soul.

He have a knack for asking the right question at de wrong time.

Eleven years ago I had an operation for prostate cancer. One month after my operation, he come asking me if ‘de ting’ does still work.

Ah had to write a whole article in de Guardian to tell him how he farse and outta place, but then he turn ’round and cuss me for writing about his farseness.

‘Is so yo does treat ah friend?’ he had the gall to ask.

‘Yo damn right.’

I wanted to tell him that with friends like him ah didn’t need enemies, but ah hold ma tongue.

It happened again a week ago.

Ah just come into de people country, a place dey say isn’t a real place.

The first thing he ask: ‘What yo’ think about Marlene?’

‘Marlene who?’ I ask.

‘Like yo don’t read de papers or what?’

Ah had to confess. I read about Marlene’s troubles in de newspapers but I don’t know de woman. Ah know she’s a friend of Brian, our mutual friend, who use to run a credit union in Diego Martin.

‘But like she can’t help sheself or what?’ he continued.

‘What yo’ mean?’

‘The morning de police hold she for questioning and carry she to de station, all she could say was ‘Ah hungry!’ ‘Water more than flour, yo looking at about 25 years in de slammer if they find yo’ guilty, but all yo’ could say is ‘Ah hungry’?’

‘But dey ent charge de woman with nothing. Dey just wanted to question she to see if she know anything about rumours people spreading about she.’

‘After complaining about hunger, she say ‘Ah feeling sick’ and they rush she to de hospital.’

All I could say: ‘Ah sorry to hear dat.’

Without waiting for me to finish, he chime in: ‘Ah glad dey hold she. She should make plenty time if she guilty.’

Now is my time to get mad.

‘How come dem straight-hair people does thief and yo’ doh say nothing about that? Now yo’ want to jump down Marlene throat.’

‘Ah don’t want to jump down Marlene throat, but black people too stupid. We does tief chicken s… and when dey hold we allyuh mad.’

‘How much dey say she tief?’ I asked.

‘About a million dollars.’

I wanted to remind him that it was only an allegation, but he had no time for such niceties.

‘Dat is we problem. We don’t even show imagination when we tief.’

He was getting hotter by the minute.

‘Yo hear about the UNC man who tief so much money dat he does boast he have enough money for five generations of he family to live on?’

‘I never hear dat.’

‘Dat is de problem. Even when we tief, we don’t really know how much to tief.’

Ah shake ma head in shame.

‘Yo’ ever hear about de Indian and African man who went to de bank to borrow $10,000. After listening to them, the loan officer said ‘I could lend you guys $100,000.’ The African get ‘fraid. He wondered how he go pay back all that money.

‘The Indian man wasn’t troubled. He say he could use $200,000 if they could lend him that much.

‘Astonished, the African turn to the Indian and asked ‘How yo’ go pay back that much money?’ ‘The Indian looked at him unconcernedly: ‘Ah go cross dat bridge when ah come to it’.

‘Black people in de country shame for Marlene. Like she never hear about legal tief and illegal tief.

‘We does only think about fulling we belly rather than setting up weself for de long term.

‘Dat is de Christian in we. Tief little and live long.

‘Dat is why we was so happy when Rowley and dem say dey go lock up every man and woman who tief. Four years gone and nobody make a jail yet. We want to be righteous. We want to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ before we hold anybody.

‘PNM should ah get a special prosecutor- someone like Ramesh Maharaj-to clean up the stables when dey won de election. Right now plenty of dem tief would ah been in jail or in heaven, but dey would not be around to make people sin their souls.

‘But even in heaven some of them would still be looking to find what they didn’t put down.’

Listening to Oskie, I remembered a poem I read years ago: ‘Roberts is dead-so I am told/His greatest love was the love of gold/If to heaven he’s gone, angels, look sharp/As you may lose a golden harp.’

Ah had to look at Oskie and laugh.

Although he always asks the right question at the wrong time, his perspicacity is priceless.

Maybe that is why he is my friend.

2 Responses to “Ah hungry!”


  • This piece comes across as an embarrassing racist apology for Marlene’s dilemma.
    I guess Dr. Cudjoe omitted the suggestion that Marlene should have walked in the footsteps of Prevat, O’Halloran and many other proven PNM thieves.

    The author is once more perpetuating the thieving Indian stereotype, not recognizing that most of the Indians in T&T and other parts of the world have acquired wealth and stability by hard work, ambition and entrepreneurial professional skills.

    Does he lack the courage to openly peddle the thieving Indian stereotype, so he disguises his bias in a colloquial tale?

  • “To him that is pure all things are pure” The people who cry “tief” are generally the biggest thief. A man was driving down a highway with his friend, the friend looking out the window was able to point out where the deers were, the man looked but could not see any.

    I grew up in a home where I was told everyday to be honest. So far I have not had a problem with my conscience. Those who are seeing thieves everywhere perhaps have had their conscience stained. A little soap from the hospital. A tool from the Ministry of Works. Some toilet paper from the school. An exaggerated invoice. Money from a ghost gang. Groceries from a know drug lord. It is easy to see why PNM supporters scream tief.

    A foundation name Calabar, aptly name after Calabar University in Nigeria. A nation rank amongst the top 5 most corrupt nations on earth. A sitting Minister now denying any knowledge of money spent on a community Center with no community Center to show. Those who scream tief has had their conscience seared and assume such of other. But in light of glaring evidence the label “thief” cannot be disputed. Marlene took the 5th Amendment, however others may have spoken openly.

    It is commendable of the police to arrest Marlene and others. This triggered a landslide within the PNM. The first victim was Espinet. Fired from his own company, he and another person assuming the role of President and director. The PM quickly moved to hire his lawyer to run the company. It is known that the police is involved in the Fake oil investigation. So what better way of securing or destroying files associated with AV that to make your lawyer the CEO. He will have unfettered access to all files associated with this investigation. The PM knows how to protect himself. During the emailgate scandal he was known to meet with the head of the Integrity Commission, his buddy Kenny Gordon. Just to get an update on how things were going. He sees no conflict of interest in what he does, as long as it works to his advantage.

    Just to touch on this a bit. The PM and Minister Dillon came out in strong denial mode on the latest controversy to fire Indians from the SSA. This story goes back to 2015, and there are a lot of victims yet to come forward….

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