In Trinidad and Tobago tonight is the eve of Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. Tomorrow Hindus pray to the goddess Mother Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity, for her to fill their homes which will be beautifully lit with deyas and celebrations will be had.
Today some schools (I say ‘some’ because I suspect not all) give children the option to dress in East Indian wear to celebrate and give significance to the East Indian community because the festival is largely cultural as it is a deeply religious observance. My gremz both attend Roman Catholic primary schools and the request is the same every year which is no big deal to me because like I said Divali is also very much a cultural thing and Trinidad and Tobago is chock full of different races and cultures mixed into one. So even though children are of African, Chinese, Syrian, European descent, East Indian wear is welcomed.
Now Mam’zelle wore East Indian clothing and Son-son didn’t. He said he didn’t want to be noticed too much which is fine with me while she was down for the fanciness. This afternoon I picked them up from school and in the car we had the usual banter of what happened during the day. She told me “Mummy ‘soandso’ and I wore the same thing, could you believe that?”. I replied “wow! twinsies!”, glad that she wasn’t mortified. She’s very particular about what she wears, but then she said “…and thennnn ‘soanso’ tell me ‘why you have on that? you looking ugly!'”…….I understood the underlying meaning and looked at her trying to gauge her emotional state at the recollection. Then I tested her by saying very matter-of-factly “And?”. She replied “I know right? I was still feeling sad though”. It was her first time wearing East Indian wear, last year she was sick and didn’t make it to school so she missed out. I told her that she looked beyond beautiful and anybody who couldn’t see that is probably blind.
I’ve arrived at my point. There is a blindness that pervades this Trinidad and Tobago society which is beyond irritating. I get that there are residual historical, societal and cultural issues and biases that affect and are passed down from generation after generation. But….have mercy……when will it stop? A next ten/twenty years and the same nonsense? When do we begin to teach our children or to reflect to them the appreciation of the beauty and culture of all races especially in this country? The Indian/African/Syrian/’Chinee’ thing is so played out. One doesn’t have to subscribe to a religion or be a certain race to show tolerance, understanding and appreciation. This doesn’t stand for Hinduism alone, I’m ‘African’ and Catholic, not Orisha which I guess makes me less of an ‘African.’ I’m blasted for what I believe and practice which by the way is a freedom I enjoy without having to prove the rightness and wrongness of Catholicism. Don’t even get me started on Islam.
So back to Mam’zelle. I posted her dress pic early on Facebook this morning and 38 people clicked like on the photo. It may sound trivial but those 38 people, though not children, reaffirmed what it means to be Trini for me. They helped me to make my point to her that it does not matter what some may think, in this country there are others who will disagree, do away with the blindness and still strive to make this country the rainbow that it should be.
Shine light in your hearts man, sounds good to me. What do we say about every creed and race in the National Anthem? We sing it twice for crying out loud! Sigh.