A child’s last memory

For those who were privileged enough to be present at a family function of the entire clan of ‘Meyers’; to witness the sight of an upper-middle-class family in it’s full plumage, have many times told tales of subconscious offensiveness and mild resentment sensed within the family. There was a silent war pulsing through our bloodlines, one that could never be won because no one seemed to know it was going on.

All our carefully composed faces and sharp features would question each other, our thoughts painful like barbed creatures. Even in pain we did not share a bond held carelessly by other families, but the ‘rebels’ like my Uncle John and Ken, with their lop-sided grins, carelessly put together clothes and flippant nature gained the snooty looks normally reserved for dying dogs on the side-walks from the lot of my family. Individuality was not entirely accepted, although we were allowed to be what we really were, frightened and vengeful, clawing and gnawing at anything we wanted.

We were all gathered in the dining room,spread out amongst ourselves like strangers engaging in painful small talk, while awaiting the arrival of my late Grandmother’s lawyer. He entered shortly after, clutching a brown briefcase in his hands. He was long and thin with his shaggy triangular head cocked sideways in a kind of bereaved gesture. I didn’t know what it was about him that I found so unsettling but the fear settled on me like a cold coat full of mist.

“Nice to see you all here again,” he began with a smile. I wondered if I were the only one to notice the slight condemnation in his voice as he spoke. The only other time we had all been together was two years ago, when my Grandfather had died. “Should we start?”

“We better,” my father gruffed, “We waiting long.”

A few of the ladies moved uncomfortably, I myself involuntarily smoothened my trousers. My father hardly spoke and when he did, it was always a cause of great discomfort.

“Alright,” he began as he took a seat at the vacant chair and plunged his hands into his briefcase.

I could feel the tension in the room, feel the lack of oxygen as everyone stopped breathing for a while. My Grandfather, wise man that he was, had left none of them anything, save a few pieces of furniture he might have well have gotten from the war. They all earned decent livings, but not nearly enough to sustain the image they tried so hard to upkeep. My mind drifted off as he began to read from the sheets of papers, but I could feel joyous breath being released all around me and I knew the old hag had made them happy for once.

They were all circling each other now, like a swarm of bees, making less strained conversation. I looked around them and realized that we were all a band of thieves and hypocrites, with scarce believers sprinkled amongst us like rare treasure, but most were good, or tried to be and those who weren’t, well… Morality existed only in the faintest of places but loyalty to each other above all else was expected, demanded. In my heart, I knew better but I still had hope. Hope that one day all the cleverly guised conflicts would end and it would not be because of great statesmen or churches like our own. It would be because we changed.

The University of Guyana

Dear University of Guyana,
It is with a heavy heart that I write this, there are only so many blows one can take to the perfect image they’ve held unto for so long before it completely shatters.
Since I was younger I used to look upon University level education with a certain reverence bordering on the spiritual. There were only so many University graduates in my family and I was determined to be one. I was certain then of my path, after my secondary education, I would then become a student of the prestigious University of Guyana and make myself and by extension, family proud. In retrospect, I’m surprised to find out how much of a romancer I was, but such are the dreams of a young child.
The University of Guyana leaves much to be desired, from their tuition fee’s, range of academic programs and opportunities offered, straight down…

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The country is the way it is because people do not speak out

Dear Editor, For years, I have asked myself and those closest to me, what was wrong with this country we call home, where our people are fed racism, hate and lies. Our people are rapidly losing their identity and there seems to be no stopping it. We are alienated to the point where it is now brother against brother and sister against sister. I asked myself, why in a country of so much wealth, we are so poor and even in the 21st century, Guyana is in one of the most detrimental states it has ever been. After pondering these questions for short periods, I would quickly come to the conclusion that the government and the people were to blame and I had no part whatsoever to play in this.

My thoughts never went further than this and my opinions, though strong, were never voiced because I had never seen myself as my brothers or my sisters’ keeper. I saw politics as something alien. Something the foolish meddle in, because to meddle in such a system was asking for trouble. I did not wish to question such a system, being so young, unknown and not anywhere in the world as yet. I did not wish for the trouble that would be brought on me for speaking out on the matters and decisions that hurt us as a people.

Age I believe surely brings wisdom. As an 18- year- old Guyanese citizen, I’ve learnt that I can no longer dish out the blame on others. I can no longer blame the people, not even the government. I have to blame myself.

I have to blame myself for not being my brothers nor my sisters’ keeper. I have to blame myself for witnessing injustice and never taking action against said injustice. I have to blame myself for our failing country and everything that goes with it. I have to blame myself for the rapidly increasing crime rate in our country.

I have to blame myself for even our failing education system, the Marriott fiasco and the BaiShanLin embarrassment because I’ve read about them, seen the effects of them and I have remained silent on them.

By remaining silent, I have unwittingly agreed to support a failing system where foreigners are treated better than one’s own citizens. I have to blame myself for being an embarrassment to my country, my family and myself for saying more than once that I have no interest in politics or world affairs.

I recognized my ignorance and saw how my continued silence was slowly sinking this already sinking country. I blame myself for being a coward. What do others blame themselves for?

Yours faithfully,

Akola A Thompson

University of Guyana student