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Raffique Shah


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Of fools and spirits

By Raffique Shah
November 16, 2008

Call me The Trini-Spirit. In this incarnation I wield power and influence over all in this land. Like a true Trini-Genie, I pop out of a bottle and control the minds of men and women, from ministers and criminals to aberrations like Juliet Davy. When I see the antics of our politicians, criminals and crazed-motorists, I feel proud they all sip from my bottle and not any bogus chalice.

I am The Spirit of Trinidad, that powerful force that guides Man along the right path-or pushes him down the wrong road if he’s so stupid. I was not, however, responsible for steering the Prime Minister from a rustic barber-salon down South to a little-known radio station up North. Even we spirits are busy. At the material time, I was busy trying to save lives. I had burrowed myself deep inside a woman’s head, whispering eerily: Trini man cyah take horn. Of course, she ignored me. Moments later she lay in pieces and was on her way to meet my opposite number. The "hornee"? He was about to slosh down another kind of spirit, one that destroys all organs and also ensures a slow, painful exit to Hell.

Suddenly my Spirits-beeper vibrated. My boss, The Spirit of the Universe, had summoned an emergency meeting. It would be at the now-ghostly Whitehall, amidst cobweb, with more than a few ghosts in attendance. "What is the problem, now?" a familiar voice from the distant past blurted out as I entered via the attic. "Is it that fool again? Is he still trying to be an Eric-clone? Does he not know there can be one, and only one, Eric?"

Pompous bastard, I thought, ignoring the ghost-with-dark-glasses-cum-hearing-aid. I hastened to the secret room where my superior and my colleagues had already gathered. Before I could shut the door, "darkers" pushed it, insisting, "I am entitled to attend this blasted meeting! I cannot have a fool destroying the great party I founded!" "Let him enter," said The Great Spirit.

"What did he do this time, Great Spirit?" I asked, anxious that my turf was under multiple-attacks, that I stood to lose my status. "The fool heard two sub-humans-read radio jocks-make some foolish comments about him on an unknown radio station," the Great Spirit said. "Rather than ignore them, he stopped by the station, his security detail in tow, and proceeded to berate them. He then contacted management and lodged a complaint. I know other sections of the media will unearth this gross stupidity, so the thing will explode! What say you, Spirit of Trinidad?"

Before I could respond, "darkers" interrupted. "What? Has that fool gone mad? Did the boy learn nothing from me? When its colonial editors offended me, I burnt copies of the Guardian in Woodford Square. The masses went wild with joy. When that teacher-calypsonian attacked me in verse, I replied, ‘Let the jackass bray!’ When that other fool, Shah, attacked me in parliament, I dealt with him by brokering a deal with the bigger fool, Panday. There are more ways to kill a cat "

"Enough!" bellowed the Great Spirit. "Let’s hear from The Spirit of Trinidad." Burping ‘babash’ I had sipped on my way to the meeting, I ventured, "Oh, Great Spirit! I fear the one we speak of is beyond redemption. He does not listen to the wisdom of those we put there to help him. He hears ‘voices’ that guide him to do strange things. He fired Baldhead for ‘wajank’ behaviour, but he conducts himself like a jamm "

"Enough!" the Great Spirit bellowed again. "You are responsible for guiding him you have failed!" "Guide him, Great One?" I humbly asked. "No one but Thou can influence him. He boasts that he is guided by you." "Guided by me? How dare he? I shall smite him!" The meeting of spirits fell silent on hearing this grave threat. Only ‘darkers’ spoke. "I know this boy well. He is what Trinis call ‘a harden fella’. In Trini-speak, it means he won’t listen to reason. Power has affected his brain, his demeanour, his contempt for others I know I’ve been there ." His voice trailed as his ghost vanished.

The Great Spirit spoke again. "Look, we chose him in 2001 over that other fool who is driven by another kind of spirit. Clearly, he has disappointed. We need to take remedial measures what do you suggest, Trinidad Spirit?" Burping some more ‘babash’ as I sucked vigorously on a power-mint, I pronounced with authority: "I have the answer, Oh Great One!"

All eyes and ears glued to Trini-Spirit now. "I know a lesser mortal named Lee who sings for his breakfast, lunch and supper. I shall have him defend the fool. Louis is capable of defending the indefensible. What better do we need?"

They all looked at me perplexed: "We need to get rid of the fool, you fool-not defend him!" Well, one time, as Trinis would say, ah buss it. I tossed my resignation to the Great Spirit, saying, "Me again? You mad, yes. Jail ‘ent nice, nah! Ah resign here and now." With that, I fled to the nearest "babash" vendor a few blocks from Whitehall.