Friday, July 12, 2024
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HomeEducation / CultureTime for a change

Time for a change

By Anthony Deyal

My son Zubin was in his room with the door closed. So, as usual, I called out his name loudly and asked, “What you doing?” Normally he would say, “I’m changing” and I respond, “Into what? You tend to change more than a traffic light!” This time, however, after his usual response I countered with, “I hope it is for the better!” After we both laughed, I thought a bit about change and how, in my life, and in fact in all our lives, we generally go through more changes than a Paris fashion show.

Some of the great philosophers and world leaders go along with, or echo, John F. Kennedy’s view, “Change is a law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” It is true, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “You never step in the same river twice” because you and the river have both changed, even from one split-second to another. However, what doesn’t change and historically has not changed is how we view change and its importance. Even Winston Churchill, noted for his jokes, puns and sarcasm, was serious when he said: “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” He and other politicians have been the butt of many jokes including that they are like diapers- they need to be changed often.

Jeff Foxworth the comic insisted: “You have to change diapers every day. When those directions on the side of the Pampers box say, ‘Holds 6 – 12 pounds’, they’re not kidding!” Then there is the question that comes up when the politicians supposedly “reshuffle” their Cabinets, is it “change” or merely “exchange”? It is very much like the story about the Captain of the Egyptian Galley who, after three weeks at sea, spoke to his oarsmen. “I know it’s been rough seas, and tough rowing,” he admitted. “But I’ve got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is you all get to change underwear. The bad news is, Amon you change with Babu, Cepos you change with Dakari, and Hager you change with Imhotep…” ”

George Carlin, the comedian, expressed it in his unique way, “I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing changed.” I could have told him that I put a hundred-dollar bill in a change machine at the airport and the only thing that changed is that the machine kept my money and put up an “Out Of Order” sign.

I wasn’t sure if it was referring to me or to itself. What I am sure about, however, is the phenomenal number of changes that take place all the time and that while we are always willing to change other people we don’t ever want to change ourselves or be forced to even make slight adjustments to our image and behaviour. If we end up the targets and not the shooters, we generally end up kicking and screaming. For example, all women marry thinking that their man will change. Worse, all men marry believing that their wives will never change. For both of them, life is like changing a light bulb while you are in total darkness.

One lesson I will never forget is when I was about seven, the Pirate of the Gulf, Boysie Singh, who was thought to be responsible for at least one-hundred murders, was released from a spell in jail and went around the country preaching the word of God. I asked my father when I saw a chalk-written note on Tsoi Affat’s shop door that Boysie Singh would be preaching there that night, “Ent he kill people?” My father replied, “Dey say he change. He find Jesus!” I found it strange that my religious knowledge teacher in the Anglican school I attended never told me that Jesus was missing or lost, but I said no more until Boysie Singh was arrested and found guilty of the murder of the dancer Thelma Haynes. I told my father sincerely, “It look like Jesus decide to lose him in jail until they could hang him.”

Since those days, I tend to take life and change with a massive tonne, and not just a grain, of salt. When I hear the song, “The Times They Are A-Changing”, I ask, “So what about the Wall Street Journal? That changing too?” I worked in the field of Climate Change for a few years and I heard, especially in the US, whether in Boston, Washington or New York, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes and it will change.” I then say, “You know, I lived in Ottawa for many years and it is the coldest capital in the world. Whatever you have is small change compared to what I have gone through.”

This then makes me want to shout out the chorus of the Trinidad calypso by Colin Lucas called “Big Money Wine.” He sang, “When I thought she had enough and she cyah stand de grind/ She bawl ‘Forget the small change, Give me Big Money wine’” and from “Cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, dollar” she went straight into “dollar, dollar, dollar…”

I, too, wish that instead of the daily preoccupation with small change from so many different sources and directions, all coming at me non-stop, I could just have to deal with the big changes at much less frequent intervals. I was talking to a woman I met in a plane heading for Montreal to a Global Warming Conference. I raised the question of climate change and it turned out to be a real icebreaker. Then there is the heart breaker. In the Caribbean, the more things change the more they remain the same. A young lady took what is called in Trinidad a “PH” or private car working as a taxi and she never reached home. She was not the first and, given the way it is being handled by the police, far from the last.

One of the persons suspected of her murder (her body was found down a precipice with bone fragments of what seem to be other women) was said to have been granted bail as a result of the dismissal of 70 matters over a 12-year period because of the failure of police investigators to submit evidence in a timely manner, attend court hearings, and bungling over 35 matters where there were no files and no police readiness for the cases to proceed.

This is something that has been happening in Trinidad and Jamaica over a long time. There is considerable speculation that, as they say in Trinidad, “big money pass”. What is funny, were it not so distressing, is now the contents of the diaper has hit the fan with a vengeance, all you’re hearing from the police is big moany whine.

*Tony Deyal was last seen saying that eventually, even a chameleon will show its true colours unless they’re suffering from reptile dysfunction.

 

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