A view from inside-out
Guyanese love to stare…when it pleases them. They don’t just look. They stare. A beautiful young girl emerged out of Guyana Stores onto the pavement outside. It was an entrance from one tint of light into another. The glare of the sunlight reflecting off the pavement highlighted the effect.
She was dressed to the hilt. Her blouse covered her entire midriff, but it was pasted on to her body like a swimsuit. She wore extra high heels that made her look as if she was walking on stilts. Her skirt was nothing more than a piece of rag which left very little to the imagination.
Her hair was a mass of colours, more suited to a carnival than to a weekday in the heart of the city. It dangled down her neck and reached a good six inches down her back.
Her face was lavish. There was a generous spread of make-up, too much for her face and definitely overdone for the daytime. Around her neck were matching accessories. Her hands bore some huge bangles, and on each ear was hooked a huge goblet that matched her clothing. She wore a huge belt around her waist. Swung across one of her shoulders was a handbag looking as if it has been bought out of an Avon’s catalogue.
Three things stood out about her appearance. Her legs were very muscular as if she did a lot of walking, or perhaps exercising. There was definitely definition there. Her nails were surprisingly short and did not seem well manicured. And despite the glare, she did not have on any protection on her eyes in the form of sun glasses. But she looked a classy lady and evoked a great deal of interest from every fellow pedestrian.
As she crossed the street on the pedestrian walk, all eyes stared at her. No one said anything, no one whistled, no one complimented her, and no one giggled. But the looks said it all. She was a spectacle but by no means a speck.
Two young girls walking side by side inspected her as she passed and then simply looked at each other. The expressions on their face said, “Wow!”
An old lady approaching her from the opposite direction stopped and gaped, looking for a reaction from the vendors along the pavement. They were looking too but not saying anything. Even after she had passed, no one uttered a word. But their eyes followed her very step.
She must have known that she was being stared at. For as she walked, her hips began to sway in an exaggerated way. But she skillfully kept her balance, her shoulders squared, and her head upright. She disappeared into the distance and life returned to normalcy after the interruption her presence had caused.
Then the encore occurred. A vagrant wended his way along the pavement. The greater part of his exposed body was daubed in tar or some similar substance. His hair was so dirty and unkempt that it was knotted in sections. Parts of head had a sticky substance on which dust had settled, giving his head a white appearance.
He wore a shirt without buttons, and his pants was falling off his waist in the fashion of these young kids of today whose loose fitting trousers expose their underwear. In the case of the vagrant, there was no underwear to be seen. His pubic hair peeked from the top of his trousers.
If you looked closely, more could have been seen. But no one wanted to look, much less to stare.
As he walked along the crowded pavement, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. A clear passage was made for him to wend his way along. He was not even a distraction.
Just then, a music seller was vending his wares in a cart. I stopped to ask him whether he had Phil Collins’s “Just Another Day in Paradise.” He did not know what I was referring to.
I asked him, “Saw that fancy lady that just passed by?” He smiled and nodded his head in the affirmative.
“See the mad man?” I asked
“What mad man?” he replied
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