Special Feature
November 5, 2010
30 days before Election Day…

The Wake Up Program…

“Vote? Me ha time fu waste? Yo jump out ah de coal pot and find yoself sliding right down de latrine with dem party arwe have here. In this day and age, we need better representation. Last time me tek me freshness walk up an down Grieggs… and Lucky Larry lemme tell yo… I am not a small woman. Ah have size and when me stan up and walk fu long, e weight does hut me foot….{{more}} Ello, fire in me foot fo dat dungut boy fu Fletcher, who I used to sit down and watch come out ah he mother house to go to school every morning. Listen, I lend that boy mother money fu buy he book when he pass… come tenth fu go to Kingstown High School.

“Ah so?

“Yes. Ah not lying Larry. And I watch this boy wuk hard and come up till he ah run fu Grieggs and I support him ah hundred per cent. Because too… well yo know since me Billy dead and ah can’t really get no way with the banana and dat wutlas picme me ha dey… well me nah go say nuting bout he pon national radio… after all ah mine… but yo know tings hard and Fletcher promise me dat he go help me finish me house. Larry up to now! Me still dey living out ah two small rooms. He promise fu fix de road coming up by we. Up to now! Look Miss Hedge fall down and break she hip last week. And listen nuh Larry, the other Party nah mek none sense eeder; they have this waste ah time young gal say she ah run fu prime minister…”

At this point, I reach out and press my finger firmly on the off button, then fall back against the soft, leather seat and inhale deeply – filling my lungs with the fresh night breeze, hoping that it will expel the tension within; but as I exhale, there is no ease in the tightness in my chest. I had been sitting in my car for the good part of fifteen minutes; looking at the bed of lights below… Kingstown as you could only view it from my house at New Montrose.

I shake my head slowly and glance over at the small, black box that once used to fill me with warm, cosy memories of the aroma of hot cocoa tea, brewed with bay leaf and freshly ground rolls of chocolate… the taste of just-out-of- the-pan, fluffed-up bakes and crunchy, fried saltfish… the whispery, shadowy reflections of a kerosene lamp against an unpainted wall… and in the background the evening Jaycees bingo, Banana-Man and Becket.

Now, the radio appears to have been transformed into a fanged monster – spitting out nasty, cutting comments and rumours that rape and destroy the respect and good name I had worked so hard to acquire.

“What did I get meself into?” I whisper to the empty car.

All my life I have been fighting… swimming against the tide. I had done everything the hard way and now; finally, I was beginning to reap the fruits of my labour with a thriving Marketing and Advertising business. Now that I was able to just relax and enjoy a more-than-just-comfortable lifestyle, I had gone and put myself in this situation. Why? Because I had some misguided notion that I could make a difference; because I could never forget where I come from; because I believed that if I, as an individual, could rise from the depths of poverty; then we, as a nation, could free ourselves from the boundaries of the definition “third world”.

What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I am no Eugenia Charles, no Janet Jagan, or Claudette Werleigh, or Indira Gandhi, or Margaret Thatcher or Kamla Persad-Bissessar…. I am just a girl from a small village who used to go to school in worn slippers, mended with safety pins…. Now I wear expensive jimmy choos with matching dresses and designer bags; now I walk with confident strides… the question is… can those strides take me to the office of Prime minister? Is St.Vincent and the Grenadines ready to be led by a woman….

More next week…. Follow the story of prejudice, betrayal, corruption, love, spirituality and perseverance as a woman battles for the position at the helm of a small island government.