On: Being Contrary — June 23, 2021

On: Being Contrary

My daughter’s friend, V. is a wise young woman and a pragmatist. She never hesitates to tell her friend what she thinks. One of her favorite aphorisms to her dear friend is…

“Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”
or as we Guyanese might put it….

“Why some people stay suh?”

I does think bout this plenty. Now, hear nuh? We got Prezzy Biden sharing out plenty money to dem poor people what cyant pay dem bills. Ow ! he sarry fuh dem. Dem pickney guh get food and gun go back to school. I glad.
Now dis money going to everybady- Democrat and Republican – all two. They gun stretch deh haan and tek it. Most ah dem gun seh “God bless you, Joe-Boy.”
But dem namak-haram Rebuplicans? Eh? Dey gun go and kiss up Trump foot and seh how is HE mek dey get the money.

DAH is contrary.
Why some people stay suh? Eh? Why?

De wuss ting is when you got contrary pickney. When one of my brood was small, she did always contrary. People come to visit. We gyaffin. We laffin. Drinking cold drinks.
I muss tell you that like plenty ah dem Guyanese people, as soon as they gone I gun stuuups up on them.
She now pulling the lady dress. Pullin de lady dress.
“You want hear wha me muddah seh ‘bout you?”

I skin up me eye on she, but she ent see me eye yet. Next time, I shouldda duct tape up she lil koka mout.

Da is pickney turning contrary. Shaming up mankind.

Anodda time I juss leaving the house fuh ketch cyar fuh go to work. One ah dem hollering,

“I got to make ninety- six dhall puri fuh carry to school today.”
Dah is contrary. Why she tellin me NOW? Why she ent say so lass night? I couldda bile the dhall and season it up , get up early and mash the flour and leave she and the maid to do the ress.
Is so pickney does be contrary.

And then again….
Everybady who born in Guyana know that you got to FRY pholourie. Dis odda wan tell he sweet wife fuh bake the pholourie cause he ent like the oil. The bake pholourie hard like cricketball. Cricket ball does do what the bowler tell it fuh do even if is a googly. Not dis pholoutie. It haaaaard.
So come he learn quick, quick how fuh treat pholourie with respek.

Talking bout pickney what contrary, hear dis wan.

V. got two son. Waan day, she look out de window and see one of them haulin a car into the front yard.
She fly to the door.

“__ where are you going with that?”

Hear the boy. “I buy it.”

By dis time,V deh by the cyar inspecting it.
“You buy a stick gear and you cant drive stick gear cyar? Boy is wah wrang wid you?”
“Mummy, I buy a stick gear cause I ent want ___ to drive me cyar.” ( he mean he bruddah)

Dat boy real contrary, you hear.
De moddah juss leff he. Wah she cyan do? She know she got wan contrary son. But he prappa sweet.

Leh we tek a look at some contrary tings people does do and say.

Leh we start with “Ting fuh cry, you ah laff.”

Look nuh! You deh in the cinema watching de movie. How dis movie story mek you cry . You trying fuh hide eye-wata. Den de lady next to you start fuh laff . Wah she laffing fah? She shame fuh leh people know how de story mek she feel?
You see now wah ah mean? Ting fuh cry, she ah laff.

Some people know good how fuh laff when bad ting happen to oddah people .

Some ah dem see wan pickney fall down and bruk he foot and dem ah laff. You ridin’ you bicycle and you fall, them stan up laffing. Big joke. Dis time, you knee well and bruise up.

Some Guyanese people does go to dead-house and dem don’t know how fuh give sympathy. If you see how dem does mek joke with they fren… “kya kya kya” all de time as if they at a party. Nevah mine, the wife and pickney deh inside the house mourning fuh the dead fada.

De wan dem wah does mek me get vex is dem wah ALWAYS finding fault as though them want fuh show you dem know more than you. They gyaffin with you. As soon as you seh something, they open up with NO and BUT.

Contrary. Dah is wah dem is. CON-TRAY-REE

Pickney see old zinc with nail stick out. Wah he do? He walk pan de zinc.. Braddam! He fall and cut he haan to the bone (or almost). Next ting you know …….12 stitches.
He ah de same wan wah put corn in he ears and deh complaining bout ear-ache. The doctah pull out the corn almost growing leaf.
He muddah well-an-tell he how he haad-aze and contrary..

But is this waan wah does crack me up.

Guyanese people see a sign that say “NO FISHING”. Wah hard bout dat?

But, they now, they andastaan dah fuh seh “Plenty hassa deh heh. Come and throw you net.”
Is so we Guyanese people does do. Contrary as the day is long. AND……. when de police come, they saying how they going and carry de fish to LAKE CARAHEE.

I sorry fuh dat policeman, you hear.
He wan American.

On: Defining Yourself — June 16, 2021

On: Defining Yourself

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.


Too often, we allow ourselves to be seduced by societal norms and laws which circumscribe the ways in which we define ourselves.

I am a doctor, engineer, professor….I am the mother/ wife/ daughter / friend of…..mostly someone who is famous or wealthy. Our position in society defines us. We often use our possessions to gain status among friends. The house/properties we own, the car we drive, or the places we go for vacations give us a certain cache among relatives and friends, which mostly is guaranteed to arouse jealousy which in turn, makes us feel important.

If you were to hear, “I am a beggar. I am homeless.“, what might be your reaction to this? It is not jealousy, surely.
The beggar and the homeless have no status except that of being ignored. Circumstances have driven them to that place. The essence of that homeless man or the bag- lady is hidden. They do not lack intelligence. Yet we see them through the lens colored by our perceptions of the terms “ homeless” and “ beggar”. Those preconceived notions blind us to the fact that they too, but for the tides of fortune, might be like us. Yet , if tomorrow, the homeless man won a fortune, dressed in Saville Row suits, bought a big house, drove an expensive car, how might our perceptions of him change?

My point is that we are so tied to what others think of us and the ways in which others perceive us based on material things that we give no thought to who we really are. The outward appurtenances of possessions is the face we show to society.. The public image we manage to project is formed on externals and so, these become the things that define us. How much of the inner core of ourselves gets to see the light of day?

What happens if we were to lose our jobs, or our possessions? If these are our truths, it stands to reason that we are in danger of becoming non- entities like the beggar and the homeless. If we cease that frenetic search for material things which are erroneously thought to add gloss to that image we have built up for ourselves, we can begin to be who we essentially are. There is no harm in having these material possessions if that is what you want. The danger comes when we allow them to define who we are , when they become a backdrop for our self portrait.

I would like to think that who I am is not tied to possessions. I have very few of those anyhow. I would also like to think that my image is not tied to my family connections, or a position I hold in some company or to a common currency tied to social norms.

Let my image be of how I think, what my philosophy of life is. The extent to which I subscribe to humanity or the the uplift of the human condition but of these things, I must never boast or allow the world to see because they must not be for the consumption of others.

How often we hear conversations in which participants preface each sentence with ”I”? This ego that must be visible or we sink into anonymity. This is the great fear holding us to ransom.

I favor conversations in which the currency of communication is intelligence, in which no one forces the unpleasant ego on others.

To this, I give you Rumi.

“You think of your self

as a citizen of the universe

you think you belong

to this world of dust and matter.

Out of this dust

You have created a personal image,

and have forgotten the essence

of your true origin.”

In Shakespeare’s play HAMLET, Polonius gives advice to his son, Laertes

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Act 1 : Sc 3

Do not be afraid to be who you are if you desire to do so. Put wealth and poverty aside and say to the world, “This is who I am. I am proud of it.”

Be at peace with yourself. Be true to yourself. Be you. Find your place in the world and mark it with honesty, hard work, honor, integrity, wisdom and intelligence. Stand tall and above the common herd in the society in which you live. Of course you will be spoken of and maybe mocked. But you will be celebrating YOU, acknowledging  YOU. defining YOU. You will be free.

When you allow others to define you, who you are and how you must act, you become a slave , bound hand and foot, and forever forced to act in ways that confine , ways that are contrary to the real YOU. Why do you want to be forced to be who you are not.? Do not poison yourself by laying this burden on your soul.

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think. Rumi

Rumi asks us to remember who we were born to be., certainly not an image created out of the dust and the matter of this world. but blessed with the original essence of an individual human soul.

On: Trees — June 3, 2021

On: Trees

Two poems to celebrate beauty of trees, and the oldest living thing on the planet- a Douglas Fir.

It is strange
Standing here
Beneath the whispering trees
Far away from the haunts of men.
Tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?
When I am dead
I shall come and lie
Beneath your fallen leaves…
But tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?
They shall bury me
Beneath your fallen leaves.
My robe shall be
Green, fallen leaves.
My love shall be
Fresh, fallen leaves.
My lips shall be
Sweet, fallen leaves.
I and the leaves shall be together
Never parting…
I and the leaves shall always lie together
And know no parting.
It is so strange
Standing here
Beneath the whispering trees
Tell me, trees!
What are you whispering?

Wilson Harris. (Guyanese poet)

Listen…When the wind and the leaves whisper to each other.

listen and you will hear stories about things you’ve never dreamed of, places you’ve never seen and things unheard of.

Listen and calm your troubled soul.

Listen, there is music there – the music of the spheres, songs with no lyrics, music that soars above all the cares and the clamor of this place.

Just listen.