How can anyone from the British Commonwealth who did the British school examination, General Certificate of Examination (GCE) ever forget that poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge? There can be no doubt about it that if in any country there has developed a political satire around this lugubrious piece of poetry, it is Guyana. Translated from the Amerindian dialect, Guyana means the Land of Many Waters. But water is a disappearing object in this land. Recall the famous line in Coleridge’s masterpiece;
“Water, Water Everywhere
And all the boards did shrink
Water, Water Everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.”
The people of Calcutta in Mahaicony and the population of Linden have been without water for weeks now. Not water in general (because there are lots of trenches in both of these places) but water to drink and for hygiene and household purposes. At press time, it was reported that they will soon get what the Ancient Mariner longed for.
Of course there is not guarantee that will happen today. Here are the explanations. In the Calcutta scenario, it was blackouts. So the GWI sent up a generator that broke down.
Most Guyanese believe their country is jinxed. In fact, if you read Tony Cozier’s analysis of Ramnaresh Sarwan’s century in the just concluded Test match between our boys and Australia in Antigua, he more or less hinted that even Sarwan believes Guyana is jinxed.
In case you don’t know, Chanderpaul has taken up residence in Florida. People just don’t stay in this place. Are there Guyanese last year or the year before who have taken up residence in Iraq? I know there are jobs available in Iraq. I haven’t checked but I believe a few must have left. I know there is no water shortage in Iraq but they have blackouts like us. There is a war in Iraq. So blackouts are understandable.
Seems for Guyanese, anywhere on Planet Earth is good enough except their own country. Do you blame them? How about this one – a group of four carpenters were caught living in a square box that was designed to hold fowls; what we in Guyana call a fowl pen. I read that in the Barbadian newspapers and it was reported in our local media.
Let’s quote Cozier; “Coming as he does from Guyana, Ramnaresh Sarwan might have wondered how many times last year whether he had somehow angered a baccoo or some inexplicable obeah had been cast over him…at last the curse has been broken.”
What went through the minds of the Calcuttans when GPL abandoned them (GPL has abandoned the entire territory of Guyana) then when GWI came to their rescue, the baccoo or the obeah spell took over.
Lindeners were told that they couldn’t receive water because there was no alum to treat it. When I heard that explanation on the radio yesterday morning from the mouth of Ron Robinson (what is a nice gentleman like Ron doing with the pathetic state media? I guess he will leave when Theatre Guild reopens), I recalled the same fiasco under Presidents Burnham and Hoyte in the eighties.
How appropriate to quote from that immensely phenomenal love song, “The Way We Were”:
“Misty water-coloured memories
Of the way we were.”
The way we were under Burnham and Hoyte in the eighties was that our drinking water was not only of a misty colour but had the hue of jet black coffee because of alum scarcity. I have memories of those days of the way we were in Guyana. Hoyte eventually cleared it up.
Back in that era, you showered with the deep brown water because you had no choice. At least they should have given Lindeners that choice. But to withhold water from an entire city for over three weeks is beyond belief. What is even more incredible is that this part of Guyana stood silently and helplessly as the Ancient Mariner took control over their town.
The more you live in Guyana, a country where the ruling party has been in power for sixteen years the clearer you see a movement of going back in time. Blackouts; water shortage; coffee-coloured water; clogged drains that harbour all kinds of flesh-eating creatures (come and see the trench where I live); holes with craters larger than elephants that destroy even armoured vehicles; schools without desks and benches; magistrate courts with leaking roofs; hospital emergency rooms where the waiting is endless; police stations where telephones are seldom answered; court cases that take decades to see the light of day; public parks where overgrown grasses resemble the forests in the Amazon.
In the midst of this jungle, we will have CARIFESTA. The CARIFESTA guests will no doubt have a swim in the Olympic swimming pool that is being built. It is located a few doors from where I live. I look forward to swimming there if the pool has chlorine.
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