They are still arriving hundreds of years later. That would not be here, but over there. Everywhere but here. So they are continuously leaving and arriving.
From the perilous seas to the plantations of toil to the pastures of commerce to the provinces of bright lights and, last, to the planes that ferry them around or out of the region. In between, for the favoured few, there have been interludes in parliament, the penthouse and among the powerbrokers at different times along the way.
It has been one hard ride: exploited by contemporaries, well-wishers, leaders and comrades; and, from the memories and perspectives of the Guyanese East Indian (in itself a contradiction in terms), that enduring anathema: competitors turned hard seasonal enemies. Arrival has been a checkered board and troubled chalice.
Arrival for Indians has been a long journey with mileposts that identify from the illiterate to sophisticate to commercial pirate to political laureate, if not reprobate; the latter depends on the passions of the times and environment.
The Indian has progressed from the surrounding view of being a cultural expatriate to that of a hard-earned place in the genres of rhythms and fashions, food and the fusion of sounds. It has been bluesy. Nowadays, there is ingrained cultural sensitivity: overarchingly so, emphatically so, even triumphantly so for long intervals. Thrift, perseverance, limited success, and a faded ‘Guyanese dream’ have all contributed to a different kind of Indian today.
They are not helped by certain entrenched stereotypes, many uncalled for, some not much off. The challenge is to do more than arrive: Grow into new dimensions and carry others with them, including those who resist, those who look backward, those who manipulate or deny or seek to relegate to places undesired and unbecoming.
As an indication of arrival, there must be willingness to be independent, critical, and self-sufficient politically. That is a hard one, and is either as arduous as the first boat ride, and maybe just as irreversible.
Literacy and numeracy and bureaucracy are no longer the formidable, near insurmountable barriers that they used to be. Time to be more culturally expansive and receptive. Does not mean to assimilate, rather the thinking has to be more oriented to participating more fully in the responsibilities of citizens.
The security apparatus comes to mind and the nursing profession as well. These must be neither specters nor off-limits arenas. Though there are more visible presences, there is still much ground to cover, many a rough sea to sail to arrive there from the where that is the here of today. There are no outcast professions; only those that violate obligations of the law and high ideals of character. Unfortunately, there are too many from the ranks, who have made killings in the dark fields. Do not accrue in the positive and warming column.
There is spirited zeal and cohesiveness for things and times electoral; there has to be similar enthusiasm for those issues and dismal places that remind of national failure: domestic abuse and violence; alcoholism; buying and selling of favours. There is no uniqueness or special monopoly to these practices, as they ripple endlessly across every layer of this land.
Arrival at that privileged place where there is confidence enough to challenge with justification, regardless as to who is involved, who is obviously stained. This starts with looking internally-deep and long and unflinchingly-and challenging oneself first to stand on one’s own two feet, and then to be ready to disdain and dismiss the ugly, the dirty, and the crafty. Do so regardless of who happens to be in need of such remediation, be he friend or foe. That is real arrival; without the need for a helping hand-from the boat of despair, of fear, and of uncertainty-from clever users and the dependency of rank, trickledown paternalism. From any source whatsoever.
Announce arrival by looking ahead to what are the possibilities. Right here.
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