It is written. Yes, it was written, Winston, that we would all pay our last respects to you in one form or the other on November 29, 2010. It was written too that your last time at the crease would be on November 22, 2010. Your stumps have been shattered and you are gone. Out! Clean bowled! Never to gambol anymore in this land that you loved so very dearly.
We will remember, however, the innings you played in this dear land of ours over the past 69 years, for it was one that we are proud of and those of us who have been associated with it cannot but feel privileged and honoured. And we are now left to ponder what could have been had you been allowed to continue your innings. I dare to say that that umpire robbed us of seeing your full potential and, indeed, could have called no ball. Alas, it was not so written.
Your demise, Winston, is, indeed, a sad blow to Guyana’s political, cultural, social, and economic future and this land of your birth will never fully realise, appreciate, or understand what it has now lost.
Historians will record your death as the factor that might have averted the ruins in which Guyana had fallen. In fact, when I called a certain friend of mine in the medical profession and told him the tragedy of your last days he uttered without pause Oh (expletive) Guyana dead and done with. That coupled with Freddie Kissoon’s article of November 16 last, which had a much more polite title, “Winston Murray, please get better for Guyana’s sake” are very pregnant with their significance and the discerning eye will detect the reality behind those conclusions.
You take with you the aspirations and hopes many had of you leading Guyana out of the dark tunnel it had entered into. Many were beginning to put their trust in you to help to steady this nation from its stumbles and steer it away from its unchartered, unplanned, and unforgiving course.
As you walk away from the crease, you leave a beast of unimaginable ugliness, meanness, and avarice that is set to tear this country apart. It was an animal which you had hoped to conquer, if not tame. We can only hope now that a new leader, who will want to represent all of the people, will emerge in the not too distant future to right this sinking ship that you so unwillingly had to abandon.
I have known you Winston for the last 25 years both officially and personally. You have been a guest in our home in Havana, Caracas. Atlanta, New York, Fort Lauderdale and Pouderoyen and the children so looked forward to and enjoyed the visit of their Uncle Winston. We partied on many an occasion and we clapped with delight and laughed with joy over your famous donkey dance, the scenes from which will be forever etched in our memories.
You so loved your cricket. Zimbabwe was playing the West Indies when you visited us in Atlanta and we could only get a squeak out of you between overs, when your wine glass needed topping up. Of course, you requisitioned the chair with the best view of the TV and did not move until the last ball was bowled.
I remember too the backyard cricket matches we had so many times. Many do not know of your prowess and talent with the home-made bats whether made of wood and or the coconut branch. You were hard to get out and only the ground eater will steal the thunder from the thwack you gave the ball. You delighted too in fishing and often found the time to catch patwas in the backyard pond with your own can of worms, corks, and hooks.
You never allowed the high offices you held to become barriers between you and the ordinary folks.
You listened to, and talked with them as neighbours and friends. You placed a high priority on education and took pride in seeing children rise to new heights in their academic studies.
You knew and appreciated what a foundation in education meant for the development of Guyana and in you, the children of Guyana have lost a champion and they need one now ever so badly.
You joined lines with the common folk to buy your lottery tickets. The symbolism of that act when compared with the reality of the rise of the nouveau riche in this country today speaks volumes. Self-opportunism and self-aggrandizement were never your goals.
At international fora, you never deviated from the trail your erstwhile colleagues blazed for Guyana’s good name and reputation. You were well respected and commanded the attention of audiences when you rose to speak.
You, Winston, will long be remembered for the integrity you brought to and displayed in the offices you held. You have had a long association in and with the governance of Guyana. You will be remembered for your loyalty to Guyana. Your sincerity, honesty, independent thinking, and genuine concern for the welfare of all Guyana, are I dare say, unmatched.
Many were beginning to join your quest to lead Guyana out of its present rut and into things that are brighter and more promising. And to tell the truth you would have made a damn fine President! But so it was written.
Mourn and grieve we must for the death of Winston’s physical existence but we should also celebrate as he commences his journey into his spiritual world.
And, as we say our farewells, let us now look to the future for we have our lives to live and a nation to build and whose present course we must resolve to reset. Let us pledge to do this in Winston Murray’s name.
To conclude, I cite a Martin Carter poem as it is so relevant to Winston’s political struggles and life. It is entitled So that we Build.
In a great silence I hear approaching rain:
There is a sound of conflict in the sky.
The frightened lizard darts beneath a stone.
First was the wind, now is the wild assault.
I wish this world would sink and drown again
So that we build another Noah’s Ark
And send another little dove to find
What we have lost in floods of misery.
Adios, Winston, and do not forget to give our regards to Skipper y que en paz siempre descanse.
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