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Raffique Shah


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Lords, hear ye my prayers

By Raffique Shah
December 06, 2009

From today and until such time as I lose faith in the many manifestations of God that most people believe in, I revoke my agnosticism in the interest of my country. Given the multiple blights that seem to have overrun this country, I have no choice but to turn to the deities in a bid to restore some semblance of sanity to the only nation to which I bear true faith and allegiance.

Almighty Olodumare, oh Bhagwan, oh Allah, Jah, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, oh Jehovah and others I may have omitted (spare my ignorant soul), I appeal to Thee to have mercy on my beloved country. We have sinned, Almighty Ones. And although I know I am not personally liable (I confess to having committed some minor infractions), I ask Thee to intervene, to save my people from a fate as bad as a combination of Patrick Manning, Marlene McDonald, Colm Imbert and Basdeo Panday.

I know, Bhagwan, the above mentioned sound worse than the West Indies cricket team at its best. But I fear it gets nastier, oh Allah. We lesser mortals are hearing that Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Ramesh Maharaj have joined the battle for leadership of a corpse that will soon be heading for Hell, by-passing your Pearly Gates, fuelled by Trini-ethanol. For Satan's sake, let's hope there is not one almighty calamity when their puncheon-rum-propelled squid hits Hellfire Hall.

Oh Olodumare, what grave sins have brought us to this sorry pass? I know you must be nauseated by the bursaries, not scholarships (according to spin-doctor Neil Parsanlal), that were granted under a cloak of secrecy, to sundry poor souls who carry only BlackBerry phones. Meanwhile children die from congenital diseases for lack of funds. Thousands of people cannot afford their daily bread that you ordained.

Jesus, some of those listed as having received largesse from government have since denied they got a cent (yes, Father, we still have that coin, although it's not worth a fart-hing).

So, Holy Ghost, if I may be loose with my language, tell me: way de $46 million gone? I am writing this on Friday morning, Lord, knowing Minister McDonald will come with some cock-and-bull story later today. I pray for her soles: they are under mucho pressure. The lady inherited the mess. Her sin was to deny the public details of this slush fund er, scholarships no, bursaries.

I know, too, oh Lord, you must be angry seeing our leaders worshipping Mammon, sipping from golden goblets, prostrating before Chinese-made super-structures, kneeling on velvet altars. The Anointed One, Jah, seems to have forgotten your injunction: it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the filthy-rich to enter heaven. Forgive him, Lord-he knows not what he does, and he does not give a damn anyway.

As for the pseudo-devotee-with-snarling-features, Bhagwan, what can I say that will appease you? You and I know (and I am in no way comparing my limited knowledge with your omniscience) that he brings down the wrath of Kali on his enemies rather than sing praises to you. It will get worse between now and when the house-of-straw so many helped him build crashes. He will bark at and bite the hands that, until yesterday, remained clasped in obeisance to him.

He has elevated himself to Bhagwan-on-earth. In your name he has vowed to lead his blind flock to the Promised Land, to relieve the Anointed One of the marble palace. But we know the only place he has led his people to is Never-Never-Land, also known as Permanent Opposition, a cussed territory if ever there is one. Like purgatory, it's worse than Hell.

To compound our woes, we now have two other blind contenders who believe they will be king or queen in the land of one-eyed people. Yeah, I know it should be the other way round, but not in this country. Here, we have everything upside-down, even the best hotel in town.

Lord, what grave sins did our forebears commit, what did we do to be saddled with this motley group of misfits? In your generosity you blessed us with a land of milk and honey-well, almost. They have turned this Paradise into a barren place. There is no room here for intelligent people, for reasoned discussion, for those who put country before self, those who seek to maintain and build upon what you generously gave us.

I have lodged my complaints with your Lordships-Olodumare, Jah, Bhagwan, Allah, Jesus, Jehovah. I await deliverance from the evil ones that stalk the country. I seek relief from mediocrity that passes for divinity. I don't think you have abandoned the people of Trinidad and Tobago-you are not that kind of deity. I shall keep the faith, as my brethren would say, but only for so long.

Lest I witness the wretches feel your wrath like Lot's wife and Ramses and Rawan did, I shall have no choice but to revert to agnosticism. I don't mean to threaten your Lordships, but you understand my frustration. Amen.

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