By Leonard Gildarie
It is becoming more and more difficult for me to remain a reporter. Not that the work is hard. Rather, it is far from that. I dearly love a challenge. The harder the task, the sweeter the victory of success.
The long hours associated with the media are by no means child’s play. It takes a toll. You have to be on the ball in an increasingly competitive environment.
The reason it becomes harder is that you soon realize how dirty politics is. You see politicians lying without batting an eyelid and you wonder whether ice runs in their veins. It is hard to stay quiet. I fear one day I will explode.
As I progress in years, I am forced, too, to take stock on my shortening time on this rock and have been endeavouring fiercely to make it count.
I find joy in making an impact on others. I realized a long time ago that we fail to take time to understand life…the people around us. I try to help someone every day.
This past week, two events unfolded- one in Guyana and another in New York- that had me thinking of the fragility of our lives and the urgent need to make every moment count.
I am referring, of course, to the deaths of Zenita Nicholson and Randolph Holder. Both were snatched in the prime of their lives.
Zenita or Debbie, as she was known to those around her, was a mother of two in her late 30’s.
I knew her back in the days when I worked at a bank and if ever the word “bubbly” could be used to describe someone, then it would be appropriate for her.
She always had a ready, mischievous smile that seemed ready to conquer the world.
I did not see her again until more than two years ago in a city hardware store.
Though a little older, her infectious smile was there.
She literally burst onto the scene again last year when the US Embassy honoured her for works done in the lesbian and gay community, fighting for rights.
I was surprised when the announcement came as I knew nothing of her work. The fact that the US Embassy recognized her work spoke volumes of the impact Zenita made, quietly.
Then came the shocking news last week that she died. The cops believed she committed suicide by drinking several carbide tablets.
The outpouring of grief in the media and on the social websites was overwhelming. The questions were many. How could somebody whose life was so focused on advising and helping others and considered such a role model end up taking her own life?
Indeed, she had reached out on Facebook, speaking of her despair and betrayal.
Yesterday, hundreds said goodbye to a remarkable woman whose life and death has touched many.
I, more so, felt the raw hurt, largely for a more personal reason.
In a few days time, it will be two years for someone close to me who chose the path that Zenita took. It also involved swallowing of carbide tablets.
I am gathering the strength to tell the world how shattered my family was by that death. How much anger, how much blame, how much tears fell. The wounds are still there today.
For a while, I blamed the authorities for allowing easy access to a deadly poison. I pray that the powers that be take steps to restrict the sale of this deadly poison. A whiff of it reminds me of two years ago, bringing those memories flooding back.
I am slowly making peace with the fact that a person intent on killing his or herself will find some way to do it and there will not be much that anyone can do to prevent it.
Zenita’s death will also raise questions about this country’s efforts to deal with mental health.
I am not going to argue about the alarming rate of suicide in Berbice or the number of workshops being held as against how ill-equipped the police and other stakeholders are to deal with this terrible problem.
We are losing too many, too fast in an unnatural manner. We cannot afford it as a country.
We shrug our shoulders and move on to the next thing on our agenda.
Maybe, her death should serve as a clarion call to action…to not only suicide but other ills that beset us.
Guyana the past week also was riveted by the death of its local boy, Randolph Holder. He was cut down by a cowardly criminal who is now facing justice in the US system. I can say with much certainty, and satisfaction at that, that it is unlikely that he will be out of jail anytime soon.
The US news outlets were covering the event, speaking glowingly of a young man who went too soon.
His colleagues from the New York Police Department (NYPD) came out in numbers, with streets blocked off. The photos of the ranks standing in the cold weather, braving the rains, and dressed in blue spoke of people with pride for a brother who fell.
New York stood as one on Wednesday, October 28th for Randolph Holder, a Guyanese-born man who just wanted to be a good citizen in a new land.
On Thursday evening, thanks to Fly Jamaica, NYPD officers flew with the remains of Holder to Guyana.
Like Zenita, he was told goodbye yesterday by loved ones and scores of others who did not know him personally but was proud that he did his thing.
Throughout it all, I could not but help but think about our police in Guyana.
How do we treat our own? My own dad in the line of fire, in January 1980, as a policeman. I am proud of him.
Maybe it is time we use Randolph and Zenita, and others like them, as the change that we so desperately yearn for as a country.
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