By Raffique Shah
February 07, 2022
Eternal optimist that I am, I see opportunities in crisis—and believe me when I tell you I’ve seen crises in my life that most men cannot even imagine. Many do not wish to even go that far, fearing that nightmarish images would materialise into reality and they would remain trapped in a Dante-like inferno forever and ever… don’t ever mention the “amen”. That could render a grim present into an ominous future.
What any man who has entered such negativity and emerged from it not merely standing, but stronger, learns, is that identifying the opportunities is a first step to exercising control over one’s destiny. Further, painting a sunrise of Michelangelo’s mastery, if only in one’s imagination, is the key to unlocking a wondrous world that awaits the creative, the daring.
I have never pretended to be a genius, far less an artist of stature like some of my friends who, it seems to me, slap some lines, blots and colours together, scrawl their signatures, and proceed to demand thousands of dollars for their “works of art”. I ent that brave. I shall nevertheless attempt to paint in lyrics an interpretation of how we, the nation Trinidad and Tobago, have arrived where we are today, how our colonial history has pinned us to a narrow path that could only lead us to where we are, and a vision that takes us beyond the Covid crisis, suggesting how we might extricate ourselves from the pre-Covid world that we and our forebears had sledge-hammered out of base metals over generations, in the process destroying nature’s gift to us that some witty ancestors had named The Garden of Eden, which, it is said, held every imaginable food and fruit and nectar we required for nutrition, for sustaining life, and landed us at this sorry pass that everyone is eager to condemn, but no one seems capable of fixing.
Over the years, under the firm hands of our colonial masters, we built monstrous mono-crop mega-plantations spread across planet Earth that sustained us to the extent that we could produce and export mountains of sugar and cocoa, and with the devalued earnings they allocated to us, buy (import) all the foods we consumed, literally filling our bellies with genetically-modified grains and every other consumable that rolled off their assembly lines with diseases we knew nothing about. Cancers and tumours of myriad descriptions invaded our bodies, reducing Man to mobile laboratories on which they could experiment with new drugs, and so they transformed the circle of life and death into never-ending danses macabres.
We must fight back at some point, create a brave new world, either that or we surrender our bodies and souls to these creatures from the black or whatever colour lagoon they have crawled out from, and brazenly offer to lead us onto the road to nowhere.
Where best to start the counter-attack than in our homes, the only spaces we control? What better weapon to use than food. Food? Yes, food. As I have outlined repeatedly in this space, for far too long we have plied our bodies with what they, whoever “they” might be, determine for us is food. No more. You empty-head, you say you are ready to march to protest what vaccine “they” want to put in your bodies. Yet, every living day, and on many dying ones, too, you stuff your bodies with foods and drinks that are killing you, not softly, but painfully, in agony.
What is pizza but a dough-of-death, a “sada roti” on steroids? Countless empty calories. Last week, I warned that the chicken and burgers and similar low-grade meats that you pig out on fit neatly into your arteries, building up plaque that will surely create blockages that will kill you. The “doubles” you crave, a lethal cocktail of oil and flour, fried and re-fried 100 times: death and death. Have you tried counting the channa you get in one “doubles”? Today’s “doubles” are channa-less. There is little or no “dhal” (split peas) in “dhalpourie” (roti), more oil and flour than fish in the “bake and shark”.
We “wash” down these lethal excuses for food, which have no nutritional value, with the highest per-capita ratio of sugary drinks in the world, exposing our bodies, from childhood to “soft” drinks that are hard on our biological systems. We do it every day, writing off the relatively low costs to “dat is small t’ing, man”. Then diabetes, all the sugars we consume, wrecking our bodies into junk, no different than the “old batteries and scrap iron” that dealers in “dead” metals thrive on.
The only difference is we pay to restore our rusty, diseased scrap-bodies. So we spend most of our lives eating ourselves into deadly diseases and all of our money retrieving the wrecks from death.
I shall continue soon…