I was driving out of the filling station and this lady was driving in. The windows of the driver’s side of both cars came close to each other, and with a smile broader than the newest white elephant we call D’Urban Park, she said to me, “Freddie, what about the telephone directory?”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, I drove closer to her, the attendant began to deliver her gas and I said, “Excuse me, what are you talking about?” She answered and then she made sense. She reminded me that twice in my columns I promised readers that I would examine the egregious inaccuracies and horrible omissions in the 2017 telephone directory, and she is still to see it.
We struck up a conversation and I explained that my columns just cannot cope with the amount of wrongdoing, dystopian occurrences and the disheveled nature of Guyana, meaning that it is virtually impossible for me to write on many of the negatives which I wanted to expand on. I agreed that I should have rubbished the 2017 directory because it is absolute trash, but time passed and other pressing issues came up.
With a mischievous smile on my face, I said, do you know not one person has written on this incompetent directory, so why don’t you pen a letter to the press about the nonsensical contents of the directory and I will see that it gets published.” “No, no, Freddie, not me, I couldn’t be bothered with this place” I asked what she meant by “could not be bothered.” Her explanation was a riveting one with shape edges of philosophical undertones.
I will remember what this lady told me for a long time to come. I don’t know her. Never asked for a name and months from now, if I see her face in a crowd, I doubt my memory will come back. What she said was done without using academic terminologies, but she made sense to me and deeply so. Here is the lady’s explanation, which I will summarize with a few quotes.
She said Guyanese have become so resigned to their fate that they have sought solace in their own little world, and it is in that cocoon (my word) that they carry on their existence without knowledge of what is happening to their fellow Guyanese and in their country. She looked me straight in the eyes and intoned; “people don’t care if the telephone directory is inaccurate, they have their smart phone, it serves their purpose, and they are content with that.”
I then turned the focus to her and asked if she is content to live in her own little world. I had barely finished my question when she exclaimed; “you bet your sweet arse that is where I am at, Freddie.” She said she and her husband have a little business they are comfortable with. One child, the only girl is in high school. A boy is at UG and another boy is graduating from UG this year. She said the kids are her priority. She wants all three of them to study then go abroad and they must decide if they want to come back, get married or roam the world. She is clear in her mind that if she had to choose for them, she doesn’t want them to come back.
I don’t know why I asked her why, but I did, and she responded in agitating tones. She said, “Freddie yuh mad, stay here. You describe this place every day for us Freddie, and where it gets you, where is it going? You think Guyanese care about anything? Anything at all? And you blame them?” She drove off. She didn’t use scholarly language. She wasn’t an academic. But in her own words, she described for me, a country that I paint in the same way.
She is so spot-on with her portrait of her country. Guyanese have lost hope. The majority of them are young people who cannot easily get a visa, and if they get one they know a job in the US or Canada is not easy to acquire, and Barbados and Trinidad, which once offered a pathway out of Guyana, are closed off.
So what do Guyanese do? As the woman said, they are content to live in their own little world where they put meaning to their own existence. They have absolutely no interest in a telephone directory whose listings are mostly wrong. They have absolutely no interest in right or wrong, once the violations are not on their doorsteps. They just live to exist.
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