In 2005, in my article for this time of the year, I suggested you ask the DJ to place Sarah Brightman’s phenomenal song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “The Perfect Year.” I repeated that call in my 2008 column. I am doing so for the third time. It is the perfect song to dance to on Old Year’s Night.
Never mind if you like rap or soca or up tempo beats, when the night settles down and the old year moves into the new one, as they change to slow jams, ask the DJ to play this enchanting, elusive song about tomorrow’s love in today’s tempest of uncertainty.
“The Perfect Year: is a taken from one of Webber’s brilliant masterpieces, “Sunset Boulevard.” This is the story of a faded superstar who clings to the past even when the future has long buried it and tomorrow holds no promise for her.
As you dance this evening, think about tonight only, because in Guyana we don’t know if there will be a future. One of the requirements of life is that when you look back you must feel that you have enjoyed it. Life is to be lived never to be permanently contemplated.
In Guyana, we have had too many woefully dashed hopes about the future that keeps eluding us. Last year at this time, as all of us lavished in the spirit that Old Year’s Night brings, we thought that life would be better and sweeter than the fading year. For a majority of Guyanese it has not. But why should such maudlin thoughts preoccupy you this evening. Just dance the night away and the early morning hours of 2011 until your energy begins to leave.
There is a warning that all of us must heed as we mash the floor tonight. Do not drink and drive.
This is a horrible form of behaviour that is tantamount to uncivilized conduct. This land has a small population, yet its traffic death statistics are longer than most countries in the world. Guyana has a frightening death index from traffic accidents. One wonders if this country can survive another ten years with its high accident fatality record and its incredible migration numbers.
I am not optimistic. I believe there is something eerie about the Guyanese psyche. You can have a terrifying road accident one day, and the next day, no one learns the lesson and the reckless use of the wheel continues.
What breaks my heart about traffic fatalities is the death of innocent persons. You can’t help being cynical and comment about bad drivers being self-destructive. If they want to take their lives and those of their families then how can we stop them? But what is shattering is when drunken motorists kill innocent civilians.
As 2011 breaks, and the music stops, many inebriated drivers will take to the streets. My fear is that the nouveau riche will go unpunished tomorrow as the policemen examine the accident sites. They have been known to kill citizens with their vehicles, pay compensation, and not even check in with the police station for a report.
Spending New Year’s Day in the lock-up will be those who haven’t got the status to call on their connections.
This is life in Guyana. And it brings me back to the shooting incident at Princess Hotel at the birthday of a princess of the nouveau riche. Two nouveau riche young men shot two guards and the story died an instant death. Will tonight bring similar incidents?
If you know your country, then you know the answer. Old Year’s Night is the moment of nouveau riche glory in Guyana. They get drunk, shoot up the air when they get boozed up, drive away untouched and crash into any person or object they want to on the roads. The calls are made to ruling politicians, then relayed to men in uniform and the untouchables walk
As for me, I am not going anywhere tonight. I tied the knot a long time ago. I had my Sarah Brightman moment. I will stay with my soul-mate, eat the customary cook-up rice she made and see a movie or two. Tomorrow I go on the keyboard to do for this newspaper what I have been doing for so long – trying to educate my fellow citizens that we must fight for Guyana’s future and struggle to make our country a land where rights are not given as gifts by those we voted for, but rights our ancestors died fighting for so we can be a free nation. At the moment we are not.
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