July 28, 2015

Undercover asset

Satiricus always admitted he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the room. Any room. So he wasn’t too embarrassed when he discovered that the “asset recovery” programme launched by the Government had nothing to do with ex-workers of the Government services filching office supplies and stuff.
Satiricus’d been fretting that after two months of “auditing” no asset had been recovered beyond some old cars. And those’d been turned in voluntarily! It was only when he read the interview with Naga Man, (who’d been raised to the high office of Vice Poomba) what “assets” the Government was talking about.
The Naga Man referred to the recent “Confessions of a Hit Man” on TV. Unlike what Satiricus first thought, Naga Man wasn’t talking about Neeshan “D’Hitman” Parboo, the chutney singer whose greatest hit was that sublime love ballad “ Ah love yuh mo’ dan rum”. As a Vice Poomba, those days were now done: Naga Man now had to get home before 2 am.
No. He was referring to the self-confessed one-man killing machine Shawnsy, who’d made more hits (if he’s to be believed) than The Terminator. Naga Man revealed that the Hit Man had recently been on a “recky” near his house. Satiricus gasped! It was now obvious to him that Naga Man was a highly trained undercover agent. Even he, who’d looked at the MI6 TV series and all the James Bond movies, hadn’t known that you referred to “reconnaissance missions”’ as “reckys”. No wonder Jagan had picked him as his successor!!
Vice Poomba Naga Man then made everything fall into place when he next revealed that he thought that The Hit Man thought that he, Naga Man, was “either an asset or a target”. Now this was the “assets” that the Government must’ve been trying to “recover”!! From his deep knowledge of spy-craft gleaned from the aforementioned MI6 and James Bond movies, Satiricus knew that “assets” were spies who were buried into enemy territory to be “activated” when necessary.
So when the Government – dominated by all those military brass – launched the “audits to recover assets” this was just code for “operations to uncover enemy spies”. And this explained more. No wonder GrainJa had been suspicious of the Naga Man initially and had rejected him. GrainJa’s “spy-dar” was highly refined after 40 years of military training.
“So Naga Man is clearly in grave danger,” said Satiricus to himself through clenched teeth. “He was not EITHER an asset or a target: he was BOTH an asset and a target!”
It was time for the Naga Man to come in from the heat.

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GRA Rocks!!

Satiricus wanted to know what all the fuss was all about when the Government announced that the top 20 bosses of the GRA were asked to take their leave. And this wasn’t your ordinary garden-variety “leave”. Some of these bureaucrats had as much as six months or more leave piled up!!
“Boy!!” exclaimed Satiricus, “What dedication these folks had shown to their job. If they got so many days available, it must mean they didn’t leave their desks in SEVEN years at least!!!”
“Sato me friend,” replied his friend Cappo, while they were bending their elbows at the back street bar, “Abee cane cutters does get six months leave every year. Abee na get pay though!”
“But it wasn’t just dedication, Cappo,” continued Satiricus. “The bad PPCEE government used to force them GRA workers to work night and day, to harass people for taxes. But that was still above and beyond the call of duty, wasn’t it?”
“Suh wha happen now?” Inquired Cappo.
“Bai, Cappo… this new Government, is all full of love and compassion,” he grinned. “They insist that the Bosses must take their leave. The Minister knew how worn out these worker bees of the GRA must be because of the bad PPCEE. He even said they must “recharge their batteries”.
But Cappo was worried. “Who gon collect all de taxes duh run de country?” he asked fretfully.
“Chap, why you worrying yuh head,” replied Satiricus. “The new Government know we Guyanese are the most law abiding people in the world! We does pay we taxes.”
“Really?” asked Cappo with a doubtful look, dominated by raised eyebrows. “Me na pay tax since me barn!”
“Cappo, you don’t work enough money to pay taxes,” sighed Satiricus. “You don’t count! I talking about all the big ones – they does pay their taxes, as soon as it is due!”
“So why de PPCEE been gat all dem workers hassling people fuh pay taxes?” Cappo wanted to know.
“Budday!! The PPP didn’t trust Guyanese,” said Satiricus. “They think people would cheat. But this Government know better. They know that Guyanese would rather starve than cheat on their taxes. And that’s why they don’t need any bosses to collect taxes.”
“Me na know about dat,” mumbled Cappo doubtfully.
“Listen Cappo, what you know?” said Satiricus sternly. «This Government so sure the taxes will come in like water, they allowed the Boss of Bosses to take his leave…AFTER he heard all his assistants were going away!”
“Bai, da is confidence!!” said Cappo in relief.

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A People’s Government

Satiricus’ face had a look of befuddlement. As a regular working slob without the time nor the ability to understand some of the back-and-forthing of the power elite, this was his default look. Take these criticisms that the new Government was spending too much time – and money – on “song and dance” routines.
“Well,” thought Satiricus, “what’s wrong with song-and-dance?”
Here it was, before and during the elections, the now Opposition had worked themselves into a real lather because most of the top guns of the now Government were ex-military types. They had gone on and on about how these ex-aloo peelers would want to make us all into stiff unsmiling stiffs who couldn’t shuck and jive anymore.
“And we Guyanese just love our shucking and jiving, don’t we?” smiled Satiricus as he remembered his old days at the village Saturday night “bubble sessions”.
Now, lots of folks had stiffened up when they heard that the new Government would have them marching up and down in the sun like Hitler’s Storm troopers in Jackboots. “Was easy for them in Germany,” grimaced Satiricus. “They didn’t have our hot weather.”
It was clear to Satiricus that the new Government was trying their best to clear up this gross misconception.
They wanted to show Guyanese people that army types could get down with the best of them! Jeez…they were Guyanese, weren’t they? Did anyone think that serving twenty years -fresh out of school – in the Disciplined Forces and doing things by Standing Operating Procedures (SOP’s) could change a person?
Hey, the army was a place where you could “be all you could be”… and Satiricus knew that all any right thinking Guyanese wanted to be, was to work as least as possible and jive and shuck as much as possible. And so, with all the Big Bashes since they took over, the army fellas now in change were just telling us not to get too stiff. They, like us, have jiving and shucking in their genes.
“And there was that nasty allegation that the new Government was spending too much on their song-and-dance routines,” said Satiricus to himself. He always spoke to himself when he became worked up. Why didn’t the critics accept that ALL the hundreds of millions for the song and dance routines – here and in New York – was paid for by supporters of the new Government? They of course, being Guyanese to the bone, just loved their jiving and shucking.
And that’s all they were spending their hard earned hundreds of millions for. They didn’t expect anything back from the Government.
Satiricus started practicing some jiving and shucking moves since he knew there would be a new Government-sponsored “sport” coming up shortly.

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Showing THEM!

Satiricus was tired of being “third world”. Which, from the way his relatives who visited from New Yawk carried on, meant “third rate and third class”. Imagine they’d only been up there for a couple of years and when they showed up at his house they complained about the weather being “Soooo HOT!!” Now Satiricus had visited them a couple of times himself… and knew that they didn’t have air conditioners on their backs in their summer. So he knew their bitching and moaning was just showing off.

But now he knew how he could put them in their place when they visited this “summer”. Yes…yes…Satiricus knew there were some who didn’t like Guyanese now talking about “summer”. “But what the heck…if THEY could have “summer” why couldn’t we?” reasoned Satiricus. “We have better summers”. But back to sticking it to his cousins: he was going to take them to the Mall. Yep!! The big one and the other dozen or so other that were about to open up in Georgetown.

Over in America, Malls had been the biggest thing since sliced bread. Jeez, Satiricus has seen them in so many movies that in his mind the whole of America was one big mall. There was a whole new culture spawned by the mall…especially with the youn’uns hanging out and even developing their own lingo. You could just look at an American and know who’d been frequenting some mall or the other.

It wasn’t just the big-bottomed women or the beer-belly men that thrived on the greasy fast foods in the “food courts” – it was unisex hair waxed facials on the adults that were the tip off. “Jeez,” thought Satiricus, “they all looked like wax figures from Madame Tussaud!” But on his last visit to the states, the malls had become huge ghost towns. Everywhere in the papers there was weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Americans weren’t going to malls anymore. Half of them were shopping on the net.

His relatives, however, who’d just come off the boat had the same idea as Satiricus about Malls and being American. They were devastated. What was the point about living in America if they couldn’t go to the mall. Shopping on the Internet was worse than going down to the corner shop in Guyana!!
“There IS a God!”, smirked Satiricus to himself. His snotty relatives had to now come to Guyana to live like Americans. Satiricus has visited the new Mall on the East Coast just last week. And it was like America – just like in the movies. Young girls in tight jeans or various stages of undress looking snootily at each other, while the young men they hoped would sidle up to them, kept nudging each other in the ribs and cackling while gawking. No waxed adults yet, though.

And it just weren’t his relatives who’d be taught a lesson. It was all America. We Guyanese were going to show them that Malls could work.
“With our connectivity, internet’s not going to kill OUR malls in a hundred years!!” concluded Satiricus.

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Outsider for the Presidency

Satiricus always admitted he couldn’t ever keep up with the bright boys from Queens. Even with the ones from Bush Lot Secondary which he’s attended in his dissolute youth.
“So how am I the only one to see what this “third term” case is all about,” he marveled to his friend Cappo at the back street bar at 3 am in the morning. “Is absolutely nothing to do with “third terms”” he continued.
“Bharrat was the fella who had made the law, wasn’t he? If he wanted to run again he just wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line.”
“Dats right!” chirped his friend Cappo the canecutter. “Like how he na sign dat gay law. But ah who file the case, den?”
“Listen, Budday. It had to be a chap who know some law…and who gon benefit from the decision,” replied Satiricus, with a smirk.
“Sato me friend, if you know who deh behind all dis, why yuh na tell me befo’ yuh choke? Said Cappo through clenched teeth.
“But I got to tell the reasons,” he countered.
“All right,” replied Cappo with a resigned shrug. He knew Satiricus always had to tell the whole story. Satiricus said he always failed précis in school.
“”Well all of you only think Chango allowed Jago-Boy to become President again,” started out Satiricus.
“Well na suh?” countered Cappo.
“Na suh!!” grinned Satiricus as he took a swig of beer. “Chango also ruled that Guyanese who became foreign citizens can now also run for President!”
“Really?” asked Cappo. “So ah Run Sanders behind all dis?”
“Naah,” said Satiricus dismissively. “He ain’t no lawyer.”
“Listen Sato, me na gat time fuh waste!” yelled Cappo. “Just tell me who the arse bring de case!”
“All right! All right!” said Satiricus placatingly. “Is Lalloo Ram….The fella with the Suspenders holding up up his ill-fitting suit.
He British! That’s why he always try to be suha know-it-all!”
“Naaah!” exclaimed Cappo involuntarily. “De President salary and pension too small fuh he. And dat is only wid de audit he get. Wait till he get outside wuk like he friend, Ghoul-seh-run!!”
“Is not the money, Cappo my friend,” said Satiricus with a wise smile. “Is the power.
He would be able to use tweezers all the time if he turn President!”

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And a child shall lead them

Satiricus was all distraught. What had the world come to? He had to get out of the back-street-bar by 2:00 am? Why! That was madness! What would he tell his wife? It was now going on twenty-two years he’d been married and he’d never come home before dayclean on a Saturday night. She was sure to think he was a loser like that Gildharie fellow down the street, who couldn’t hold his drinks and had to be dragged home at midnight.

How would she hold her head up with her friends when they “talked name” at the village market? Now the girls would be smirking at HER! Satiricus would never be allowed to forget this. Satiricus was particularly upset that he’d been betrayed by one of his own. He’s been assured that Rum Jhaat was a card-carrying member of “Lushes United”. Satiricus has seen him with his own two eyes, crawling home at dayclean. Now he was going to break up Satiricus’ home – and the homes of so many men across the length and breadth of Guyana. Oh woe!!

Then there was the question of whether folks would be able to break the habit formed over decades. By 2:00 am, fellas were just getting up a head of steam to make a move on the dance floor. This helped them to sober up a bit before crawling home. How would he be able to tell his wife that he could “drink like a man”?

But now Satiricus glimpsed that liberation was at hand. And it came from the mouth of a babe! It was the son of that old fighter for the downtrodden Rum-Ka-Run who provided the rallying cry that Satiricus knew would return things to the good old days of “Rum Till Ah Die at Dayclean”. Young Ram-Ka-Run pointed out that making God fearing folks stop drinking at 2:00 am was the first step in the journey towards tyranny and dictatorship.
First you had to see your wife’s disappointed face before dayclean, then what next? Expropriation of all private property?Satiricus knew that he had to join this movement – led as it was by this precocious child. But wasn’t it a child who’d pointed out the President had on no clothes? Nah…that was some spoilsport who claimed that the President only had one black Shirt-Jac.

Anyhow Satircus had his slogan for confronting this Road to Serfdom: “Give me Daybreak, or give me death!!”

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Beyond the call of duty

Satiricus knew he was a duffer, but that didn’t mean he didn’t try to push himself. He tried to read all kinds of self-improvement books and books about great leaders. But his favourite inspiration was to witness leaders in action.
As Satiricus thought about the just finished elections, he could see the gap between the words from the platform by leaders and their actions afterwards.
There was that Bull Khan. Speaking on the stage and from his looks, you’d think he was another Gandhi. But look how he’d kept that old codger waiting for hours, then slipped out the back door while telling his assistant to give the oldster a dismissal letter.
No pension! Old fella probably had to forage for a living at Haags Bosch. And imagine Bull Khan was supposed to bring folks together in “communities”!
“But here,” thought Satiricus as he looked at Rum Jhaat, “was a real leader – leading by example.” Now that the Jhaat was a Minister he’d passed a law that all bars and watering holes had to be closed by 2am.
Did the Guyanese public know what a sacrifice the Jhaat was making to pass this law, which even HE had to obey? This was a man who’d been drinking for forty years across the length and breadth of Guyana. And his proudest boast was that he’d been dragged from every bar in the land when they closed at daybreak.
Now he’d have to stop at 2am! Satiricus was a sucker for stories of sacrifice and a tear slipped down his cheek as he thought of Rum Jhaat’s renunciation. But last night, the Jhaat had taken his heroism to a new level. From his own experience – only he who feels it, know it – Rum Jhaat knew it wasn’t going to be easy for his fellow imbibers.
“Rum till ah die” wasn’t just a low class lyric, it described a life style that the Jhaat and friends practiced.
Satiricus had been assigned to cover Rum Jhaat as he kept his promise to visit all the bars he knew so well – to comfort his friends who he knew would be getting withdrawal symptoms when they stopped drinking at 2am. He knew because he’d practiced with his fellow Minister “Pat her Son” at their place of work.
The Jhaat’s hands were still shaking as he gave his speech, took two quick shots and moved on to the next bar. Ah… what a man!
It was only now that Satiricus appreciated the sacrifice made by the captain of the Titanic as he went down with his ship. The Jhaat should get an OR!

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The Olive Branch

Satiricus didn’t believe in holding grudges. “What’s the point,” he asked himself. “We’re all dead in the end, no?” Satiricus was given to having these discussions with himself – and it was why he’d get some odd looks from folks since he’d speak out aloud occasionally.

Anyhow, Satiricus was so pleased to see former Minister of the Government, Mr. Old Time Biggie, going to meet the new President.

His wife had sent him a posting from some social media site showing Mr. Biggie going through the gates of the Office of the President. And even though he’s been out of office for a month, the pic showed Mr Biggie, working his phone even as he was walking. Mr. Biggie was such a go getter! He was probably offering some words of comfort and solace to some poor children whose father had perished in a mining collapse.

Mr Biggie was standing head and shoulders over his other comrades who kept whining on being “cheated out of office”. “Well that was progress, no?” thought Satiricus. “So what if they were cheated? Even though the whole country had been waiting for riots to break out – IT DIDNT!!” That was progress and Satiricus was always one to salute progress.

Ex-Minister Mr Biggie had also pointed out that the cheating wasn’t as big as in the past. Heck!! In the old days the cheating would’ve been by hundreds of thousands of votes. Here it wasn’t even 5000!! “Why!! That was practically almost NOT cheating!” exclaimed Satiricus loudly, as his neighbour looked at him kinda funny.

His wife had snickered when she’s passed on the pic of Mr Biggie sidling into the Presidential compound. And Satiricus just knew what she and so many other were thinking: that Mr Biggie was stabbing his comrades who’d made him into what he was, for a “lil wuk”. But those were people with small minds. They didn’t know that Mr Biggie was doing it all – not for himself – but for his comrades.

And this was why he’d announced that he was taking a “sabbatical” from his party. He wanted to build bridges to the new government for his old comrades. Speculation that he was just trying to protecting his own rear end, was so unkind. Mr Biggie was like name and nature…not that he had a BIG ego….just a BIG heart!

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Battle of the lushes

Satiricus was no great “sport man”. He just enjoyed hanging out at the back-street bar with the guys. “OK,” he confessed to himself, “It wasn’t a ‘bar’ – just an old rum-shop”.
But as a habitué of his old rum-shop, he knew who were the “sport men” in Guyana. While Satiricus tended to dismiss many of their exploits as “urban legends”, he’d run into them enough to know that their reputation was well deserved.
Satiricus, of course, was thinking of the Rum Jhaat and Naga Man. Both of these fellas had been born in Hindu homes and their names were living proof that there was something to those folks checking “the book” to name their children.
Which parent would have the prescience to name him son “Rum Jhaat” at birth without knowing that he’d be a lush by the time he became a teenager? Rum till I die!! was his motto!
And Naga Man? “Naga” was Hindi for “snake” – and he did turn out to be that – just ask his old comrades from the PPCEE!! But “Naga” was also short of “Nagara” – that incessant drumming that just forced you to dance.
Naga Man loved his Nagara music – especially when he was drinking. Which was every day! And the drunker he got, the louder he liked his booming music.
But here it was, he and his buddy had gotten into power – and look what Rum Jhaat went and did. Ordered all music in rum shops and bars to stop at 2:00 a.m.
“2:00 a.m??!!!” he screamed at the Jhaat. “How de hell you can do dat! 2:00 a.m. is just when I getting into me Nagara dancing!” Satiricus just happened to be in the right time at the right place and heard it all.
Rum Jhaat just took another swig of the Bush Rum, that the two of them drank for old times’ sake. “Budday!! You know I does start drinking wid me roti in the morning. By 2:00 a.m., I done!! My driver does drag me home den!”
“Dat is always yuh prablem!! Is only you…you…you!!!” Naga Man screamed. He was getting real worked up. “You know I does really start fuh drink at 11:00 p.m. and by 2:00 a.m., I just getting crank up! And when I get crank up, I need me music at top blast!”
“Naga, me friend. Is de big man tell me fuh do da. Da man does just sip brandy!” said Rum Jhaat in amazement.
“But hear nah. Now dat yuh air-condition you new house…play yuh music inside and doan disturb anyone!”

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Audit reports

Satiricus was so in awe of bookkeepers. Satiricus had attempted to squeeze through college but he didn’t make it. The little grey cells just couldn’t handle all that knowledge.

But every now and then a tidbit would pop into his head. Like whenever he thought about those fellas called bookkeepers who entered numbers in books all day long, He’d remember Pythagoras. The old Greek genius had pronounced: “All is numbers” and even “God is a number”.

Then how could a duffer like Satiricus not fall at the feet of bookkeepers who were more familiar with numbers than with their own wives.

So when Satiricus heard that two old bookkeepers, Lalloo Ram and Ghoul Sarran had been chosen to check out the numbers the PPCEE government had left behind in their books, he breathed a sigh of relief. They were not just bookkeepers…these men had advanced to the practice of “audoting”.

Audoting numbers the way Lalloo Ram and Ghoul Sarran did was a very arcane science like tassology. Satiricus’ wife practiced tassology, but called it “reading tea leaves”.

Tassology always gave you a good answer. You just had to brew the tea leaves in a cup and drain it away. In Satiricus household, it was usually drained into his mouth. His wife would then look at the pattern of the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.

If, for instance, she saw a “snake” – the woman had a wonderful imagination – that meant “hate”. “House” meant “success”.

Audoting numbers like Ram and Sarran was also like Haruspex. But this couldn’t be practiced in Guyana because folks here ate the “guts” of chickens or sheep or whatever – which practitioners of Haruspex were supposed to “read” or interpret.

Satiricus particularly would have liked the reading of sheep’s “livers”, since he assumed he could always eat them once the divination was complete. He liked sheep liver.

But Satiricus was a bit confused. Well, more than a bit confused to tell the truth. But then numbers always confused him. He was an avid follower of audoting by the two bookers because they had newspapers columns and blogs.

For years now they had been audoting the PPCEE government…and published their findings in the said newspapers and blogs.

Satiricus always wondered how they could do those audots when they never had access to the Government’s books. But then he figured these bookkeepers were so expert in audoting that they didn’t need to see the books to find that “corruption”, “waste” and “theft” was rampant.

Imagine what would happen now they could actually see the numbers!!! Oooooh! Satiricus literally tingled. But then a thought struck Satiricus.

Sometimes his wife was horribly wrong with her “tea leaf reading”. She once told a woman that her husband had five outside children. After murdering the man, the woman found out he’d had a vasectomy when he was a boy!

Would Lalloo Ram and Ghoul Sarran ever fess up that they were wrong about the PPCEE?

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