It seems as if everyone I know is expecting a child - or two - right now. Babies are being conceived left, right and center, by those much older and much younger than I. Even Beyonce and Jay-Z are finally having a kid!
With my thirtieth birthday essentially staring me in the face, one would think that I'd be eager to join the baby brigade. Instead, my mind jumps past the conception, gestation, delivery and infancy stages, to the actual rearing of a child.
I keep wondering about the sort of culture my child will be exposed to, the lifestyle and larger national community he or she will grow up within, the kind of accent my child will have...
Which inevitably makes me reflect upon my own rearing, back home in Trinidad.
Where, as a very unkempt and rowdy girl, I busted my knees climbing my grandmother's guava tree. Where my cousins and I caught guppy fish and wabeen* or chased bamboo boats in the river behind her house.
Where, in my strict Roman Catholic primary school, we said the Rosary, lit deyas for Divali, kept a calendar of the moon phases for Eid ul Fitur, and had drumming events for Emancipation Day.
Where I wore a uniform to school, until I was seventeen. Where random adults in the street didn't hesitate to upbraid me for loitering after school in said uniform...
I'm aware that any child born in this era wouldn't necessarily want to go chasing wabeen or guppy fishes for fun. But I want the option to be there - essentially, I want any children I have to be exposed to the cultural consomme that is Trinidad.
So imagine my disappointment after my last visit home, when I finally took the blinkers off my eyes and noticed that an ingredient or two within the mix had changed.
My own young cousins ignored the laden julie mango tree in my mother's backyard, preferring to sit indoors in a glum corner, hovering over their Gameboys; I won't be shocked if they grow up with humped-backs from all that hunching over.
There's talk of ethnic and racial strife which disturbs me greatly, given that my childhood home was on a street where Indo, Chinese and Afro Trinidadians were neighbours, and we all happily rotated through each other's homes with nary a thought to any differences.
By God, some of my best and most fulfilling years working as a Broadcast Journalist in Trinidad were spent in a company founded and heavily manned by Indo Trinis...
And today, in observing my country's 49th Independence, the changes are impossible to ignore. What with the government-imposed state of emergency and curfew - a current measure to curb the nation's rampant crime scene, they say.
Is this the culture I want for my kids? Yes and no.
No, I don't want this nonsensical ethnic squabble, which I think is a convenient excuse to cover the more serious infrastructure, governmental and social issues within the nation.
And I definitely don't want the consumerist culture that has emerged over the last decade or so, pushing aside the simple and natural joys of island life in favour of imported goods, doodads and customs.
Case in point: to me, there are only two seasons in Trinidad - the wet and the dry season. Not so, says one of my younger relatives, who's infatuated with visiting that magical place he saw on TV called Disney Land, for the summer.
Only four years old, he stuck to his guns when I tried to explain that, to have a summer, one must be emerging from the spring, with the knowledge that after summer, comes autumn.
My grandmother used to say that advertising and satellite TV (in those days we didn't have cable as yet) was the devil that brought temptation in the form of wants, wants, and more wants. In the case of Trinidad, I think she was right.
As for the precious few treasures that still exist?
The unspoilt beauty across the highest reaches of the northern mountain range; the street parade and steelpan music at carnival time; the mouth-watering, multicultural cuisine; folklore tales of Papa Bois and the Socouyant; the music of The Black Stalin, Ella Andal and David Rudder; the extreme talent of the nation's creatives?
Those things will most surely be passed on.
Thus, I cling ever so dearly to those remaining Trinidadian virtues, as I proudly wear the national colours of Red, White and Black today.
Hopefully, when the time comes, my children - regardless of the nation of their birth - will look fondly on this heritage of mine, as well.
PS. Wishing a happy and holy Eid Mubarak to my Muslim pals out there!
*Wabeen is a tiny fish
Wearing: Brooks Brothers mens shirt; American Apparel belt; vintage Oscar de la Renta skirt; Alice + Olivia platform shoes.
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