Artwork in the photo: Trapped-resin and wood by Ngee Ann Kongsi. (www.onesunart.com)
Sitting around chatting with a group the otherday, one woman mentioned that she went to buy fish from a local fishmarket. Silence pervaded the room for a brief moment, so brief that the average person would not have noticed it. The woman quickly assured the listeners that she made the sign of the cross before driving in, her eyes shifting all around apologetically. As if a bubble burst in the room; the conversation continued about the fish.
For an instant, individuals in the room were screaming inside at the audacity of this woman to go to that place to buy fish. Why?
Because they live with the suspicion that there are those places were good people don't go. Good people, get attacked by the likes of them who are different. Especially the them who fish from 4 am, and sell in that market trying to earn an honest dollar.
Especially the Them who drive the taxi's, live on the highway, shop on Charlotte street..... hopefully you are getting the picture here.
Bob Marley sings to "emancipate yourself from Mental Slavery"..... and growing up in a semi-white middle class family on this island, we heard the song, and the fingers were pointed to the Them, that we are supposed to fear.
But looking at the situation now, I wonder who are the people trapped by metal slavery?
There is so much division on all levels in the country it is disgusting. You are judged by the colour of your skin, by the places you shop, by the car you can afford.
You are even judged by the church you go to (or not) within the area you live. Even if you are following the same religion, the church of that religion that you attend(depending on the wealth of the people who go to the church) is a judgement call on your character.You are judged whether you by your vegetables at Hilo, or TruValu, or if you go to the market.
You are judged because you know words like Bhaigan, katchoree, and you have actually passed the lighthouse on your own and driven down to the southern part of the island on your own.
Somehow, if you surround yourself with the fairer, wealthier, flashier people, you are a better person than anyone else who doesn't move in the same circles. Never mind that some of these people cannot hold a conversation to keep sheep interested.
Maybe its me, but the message that I get from those around me is that a good person never does things different, never has an opinion, never wants to defy the status quo. A good person never discusses topics like sex, politics, religion, an woe betide those who do not agree with the standard opinions on these subjects. Coversations can sometimes have the feel of cliches and recorded statement bantered about in a particular order, that you can actually predict the responses coming.
Sometimes I feel like I live outside of the cage, looking in and wondering why they don't just fly out the door.
It is wide open, and no one wants to leave the cage.