Culture & Society ---
My youngest brother had organized a Meet-and-Greet picnic at the Botanical Gardens in Georgetown, and I eagerly looked forward to meeting many of his listeners who tuned in to his radio show, "A Quiet Storm", on 93.1 Real FM. I had already been to the garden on a previous visit to Guyana several months ago. It appeared to lack the charm and the appeal of my younger days, as it seemed sadly bereft of that fastidious care that kept it beautiful and that made it the ideal place for my frequent meditations years ago. We were supposed to meet at the Bandstand (one of two such in our dear city), and I imagined that my brother's fans would be showing up with a variety of home-cooked Guyanese delectables such as roti and curry, dahl-puri, cook-up rice, sponge cake, cheese roll, pine tart, and other delicacies with which I grew up and which, in part, added to the intrinsic character and essence of this country we love so dear. It was a typical hot, sunny, tropical day, with a slight breeze, and already I had started to drip with sweat, having long grown unaccustomed to negotiating the tropical heat.
As my brother and I neared the meeting place in the Garden, I noticed a group of teenagers (some older and some younger) playing a game of cricket. I immediately forgot my reason for being at the Garden and hurried towards the boys, leaving my brother behind. The minute I saw those boys I was transformed. A boyish excitement, reminiscent of my boyhood days, took hold of me, and as I neared the group I asked permission to play. They consented, and I was put on the team that was batting. I would have given anything for that moment, and no doubt, I probably had my customary huge smile on my face. I was that little boy again playing with his friends. As we played the game I found myself listening intently and with pride to each of those boys as they yelled out instructions, chided one another, encouraged each other, argued among themselves, all in that wonderfully unique Guyanese-creole vernacular I remembered so well from my past but that was frustratingly difficult to resurrect, for it seemed not to be coming to me readily, having so long been away from "my lovely native land."
I made several young friends that afternoon, among them, Chris, David, and the youngest of them all - Jagdesh (definitely the subject of a future blog). I also came away with the reputation of being an all-rounder, as (to my amusement), I overheard the boys talking about me in that term. So I got the opportunity to become a little boy again. And what an incredible experience it was. However, later that evening my body reminded me quite convincingly that I was not a boy any longer. Nonetheless, the experience was certainly worth all the soreness and the aches.
[Photo Art by Ric Couchman]