The Story Within A Story…
By Leonard Gildarie
Kaieteur News – More than a decade ago, my editor demanded I contribute a feature piece every Sunday. Kaieteur’s Sunday is the biggest paper for the week. Nigel McKenzie, my editor then, told me to write what I know. I was building my home on the West Bank of Demerara, at La Parfaite Harmonie. The experience had left me bitter. I was allocated a piece of land by the Central Housing and Planning Authority. I had very few ideas what to do. I had to apply for a loan. From the onset, it was uphill. I had little money and not aware of the process. The importance of drawing a plan, estimates, bill of quantities, contractor’s fees and quality of work…I learnt as I went along. And boy, did I pay dearly.
As the work near ended, the contractor told me he ran out of money. I hit the roof. I took a mortgage. Where in the world would I find $200,000 from? My dear mother was by me when the blow-up happened, and like the woman she was, she stepped in and offered to pay the balance. The troubles did not end there. There was the struggle to pay the mortgage. It took about half of my salary. House insurance to protect the mortgage was needed every six months. The struggle was real.
Then there were roof leaks, yard maintenance and so many little things that come with owning a home. You still had to eat and go to work. Yes, it was a struggle. So it was the editor who asked me to write. Boy, did I have a lot to write. The articles ended up to 100 weeks. When I brought it to a halt, the editor insisted that I continue writing on anything. So the columnist, Leonard Gildarie, was born. I had no idea a little less than a decade ago. But I became more and more comfortable commenting on things I felt strongly about.
As the years rolled up, I became bolder and writing a Sunday’s column became a breeze.
The year 2020 will never be forgotten. Elections 2020 and COVID-19 stood at our gates and changed our lives.
The anger and concern in me were triggered and the keyboard on my computer was busy.
But the long hours, nights, and pressure of the newsroom, though an addiction, took a heavy toll.
I had trouble sleeping and temper wore thin on many occasions.
I was prescribed for spectacles and the warnings were clear: ease up.
Today, the eyes are weak with the vision blurred. There are scars across the eyes, the experts said.
Progressively, it is becoming worse.
Last year, on March 2, yes, on Elections Day, I ventured upstairs of the newsroom, where our radio studio is located. Nothing was doing. Angered, I dropped my bag, and sat down. I had no idea what I was doing. ‘Elections Watch’ was born and for days, there were little sleep.
Freddie Kissoon and Dr. Yog Mahadeo joined the likes of Captain Gerry Gouveia and others to give their voices to the assault on our democracy.
Yog and I came together and ‘Room 592,’ an evening prime time show, was born. Yog was on fire, and I was out of my depths. Radio was new to me, and my voice was harsh and grating, to my ears. Still we persevered. The afternoon and nighttime shows were a huge success.
We were not paid and the station was not making money.
There was a bigger task at hand. Our country needed our help and we were not resting.
On August 2, after five brutal months, Irfaan Ali was sworn in as President. The time since the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion…it was brutal, exhausting and a road I sincerely hope Guyana would never have to walk again.
I have been asked to take some rest and conduct some tests on the eyes, with a hope that time away from the phone and computer screen help improve the vision.
On Friday, I had to end my tenure, temporarily I hope, with ‘The Wake Up Guyana Show,’ the afternoon interactive programme, which has virtually helped, catapulted radio back in the homes of Guyanese here and in the diaspora.
That programme has changed my outlook on life. There are significant sufferings and concerns raised by our people that the current government should pay attention to.
People are concerned about GPL, GWI, GTT and the quality of internet. They are worried about the efficiency of our NDCs, RDCs, and Town Councils. Places like CH&PA, the Passport Office and the functioning of our judiciary top the list of complaints. Drainage and irrigation, social assistance and pensions, too, made the list.
There is a golden opportunity to balance this country and set its trajectory in the direction, which we can be proud of.
However, it will take patience and hard work.
As I write, it aches I have to leave the newspaper and radio, albeit for a while.
I have no idea which direction this road will take, but I am confident that it will be good as always.
Guyana needs a strong, focused big brother to haul us back when we stray from the path.
I am confident as a people that we will rise to the occasion.
I hope not to be too far away from that campaign. Though, I will be absent from the newspaper, including this column, which I must halt, and the radio, which will be in good hands, my short exit will be temporary, when it comes to the media life.
I will be back!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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