The year just passed has not been bad
The year has come to an end and as usual, at this time, I do a lot of introspection and retrospection. I think of what was and what could have been. I refuse to look at what I wrote this time last year but I surely look at some of the things that other people wrote.
From my vantage this time, I am one year older, and somewhat plumper through a lack exercise. I had promised myself at the start of the year that I would adopt a healthy lifestyle and indeed I did venture on the streets and into the playground not far from where I live.
I felt good every morning until things changed and I started going home much too late to get up early in the mornings. And it was not that I was philandering or imbibing; it was just that there was so much happening and that I needed to get as much as I could into the newspapers.
In fact, such was the situation that I earned the reputation of attracting bad news. At the newspaper people began to become afraid when I worked late. They could bet their last dollar that something horrible would happen. One night a fire struck on East Coast Demerara and soon after there was a murder.
On another occasion, a woman called frantically top report that gunmen were attacking her neighbours. I rushed a team to Triumph, East Coast Demerara. Of course I cussed because I like my bed as much as the next person. It was then that Glenn Lall duly informed me that I did not have a life and therefore did not need to rush home. I cussed him.
But the year was not all bad. There were things that made me happy. For example, there were the people who reached toward me for help in one form or another and when I put the smiles on their faces I also felt good.
There was this girl who did so well at the Grade Six Examinations that she made many people proud. Her only problem was that she was poor. I read her story in Stabroek News and reached into my pocket. I know that she is doing well at school.
There was the child with the hole in his heart. He is back in Guyana alive and well, destined to lead a full life. He meant something to me.
At the personal level, I got money. I had been putting a small piece in a Clico fund with the hope of being able to support myself when I reached the stage where I could no longer work. I am an independent person so I do not like to depend on people. Then the hammer fell. Clico collapsed and I kissed my money goodbye. That was two years ago.
President Bharrat Jagdeo made me laugh when he told the nation that no Guyanese would lose money. I was among the lucky ones. I got my money back.
Then there was the National Insurance Scheme. Two years ago I qualified and I began to ask them about my contributions. The scheme eventually decided to give me a pension although I have a problem with the amount and I am appealing. But this past year I got my money so I am even happier. I know that someone was really smiling on me.
But it was not all about smiling. I was the editor to preside over the newspaper when news came that schoolgirl Neesa Gopaul was murdered. I could not help but think about my own daughters. They are now grown women. I could not envisage losing any of them when they were 16 years old. My heart bled for that child.
I cannot say too much on that issue because the state is prosecuting the suspects.
Other things that bothered me this year were the high numbers of girls who ran away from home. Many of them were chasing sex. Their hormones had kicked in and they perhaps felt that the world was going to leave them high and dry.
Again I thought about my children. The eldest is forty years old and my youngest daughter is 24. Not one of them would have ever considered running away. I suppose it had to do with parenting.
Most hurting of all was the level of illiteracy. Gone are the days when I could assume that every young person could read and write. On the contrary, I find that it is most likely that many people up to age 20 cannot read and write. This is an indictment on the education system.
During this year, I sat and lamented the decline in my country’s education system. These are the people who cannot command a steady job in the establishment. They cannot even function as office assistants because they will not be able to read the addresses on the letters and packages that they have to deliver.
Since they cannot gain a job in the establishment they should have been able to learn a skill. But then again, they are illiterate so whatever they do will have to be confined to rote. Surely in this world one cannot operate like that. The result is that these unemployable people have only a limited scope.
They are the people who are easily recruited to make life miserable for so many of us. Indeed, they have a grasp of money but they cannot keep it. They rake in millions of dollars but they lose it because they are not intelligent enough to hold on to what they earn.
I wish I could help reverse this trend of illiteracy and violence that accompanies illiteracy. Fellow columnist Peeping Tom made similar observations and for agreeing with me on at least one thing, I feel inclined to give him an award—Special Person of this newspaper.
And if there is a special award for the person who is the most persistent in his endeavours, I would give it to Glenn Lall. He is bent on ensuring that the nation gets the most for its tax dollars, sometimes to the point of getting decision-makers angry.
At least he has succeeded in making the tenders more transparent.
So here I am in he New Year doing much of the same as I did last year except that I am extra careful with how I use the roads because this year there are so many more inexperienced drivers. There is an influx of new cars, more than any other year.