Satiricus was pleased. Guyana was really making progress. Here it was, the Money Minister had just announced the “President Jagdesh Hydro Project”, which the Govt had dumped like a hot conkie, as soon as they got into office, was now “on the front burner”.
“Imagine that,” thought Satiricus. “Only a few years ago when the Money Minister was working as a clerk in the Money Ministry back room, only the Kabaka knew about “front burner”.
Every body else cooked their local food on coal pots to fire sides. “Local foods” – because the Kabaka banned dhall, flour and other foreign foods. And no “front burners” because there was no gas for even “one burner” much less “front burner” stoves.
But today, Jar-Done, the Money Minister could use “front burner” as a metaphor! Satiricus had learnt all about “metaphors” when he was in Common Entrance class back in the day. “Charan Rass is an ass!!!” THAT was a metaphor. While Charan Rass was not actually the creature with the long ears and big teeth, he did have the main qualities of an ass: to bray schupidness every time he opened his mouth. And loudly!
That’s what metaphors do – they make you start from what you REALLY know, to what you might not know that much about. So before we get to the SUBSTANCE of what Jar-Done was talking about HYDRO, the form he chose to do it in is important.
“What a guy!!” marvelled Satiricus. “Jar-Done’s signalling that unlike when he was sucking up to the Kabaka and his henchman Green Bridge, Guyana’s economy was doing so well, all-a-wee Guyanese know what a “front burner” is!”
Most homes now have four burner stoves with the biggest and hottest flame in the front row. “Everybody got money nowadays to buy gas from gas bottles to cook their food – local and foreign,” said Satiricus. “Every two-by-four shack-store hocks gas bottles in front!”
Satiricus couldn’t hold back any longer, “FREE AT LAST; FREE AT LAST! THANK GOD ALMIGHTILY GUYANESE ARE FREE AT LAST!!!” he shouted. “No more chopping up the front steps to cook dinner!”
And this was why Satiricus was happy as a lark. Jar-Done wanted to tell the people of Guyana that his Pee-an-See Government had inherited a wonderful, prosperous economy. But as the Money Minister, how to say so when he was supposed to bad talk the departed PPPCEE?
Well, Hydro Power is on the front burner! Hydro is back in Guyana. Not the HYDRO that Burnham gave the entire nation when he squandered billions and billions of dollars. This was Hydro Power.
Soon we would even move from gas to electricity to cook our conkie!
Satiricus wondered why the reporters were hounding Minister Hardon. What really should he be “apologising” for? Just because he was a “public servant” he should be bowing and scraping to every Tom, Dick and Harry? And anyhow, he and his fellow Ministers weren’t really “Public Servants” – not even lower case ones like “public servants”.
And it’s a good thing too he and his fellow Ministers weren’t “public servants”. Did they think Paddy Yorde, the president of the public servants’ union would’ve been satisfied with a measly 50 per cent salary increase? “You bet your bottom dollar he wouldn’t!” fumed Satiricus. “He would’ve had his troops marching up and down in front of President GrainJa’s office, belting out ‘Solidarity Forever’ and such exhortations.”
And since Pressie was also getting a raise, he’s have the perfect excuse to take more than the ridiculous 5 per cent they’d given him. “So what if it’s tax-free”, thought Satiricus. “It’s the numbers that count. Can’t have the President of Brazil making more than him, can they? It’s a matter of national pride!” Maybe Minister Hardon could say he was sorry he was not a Public Servant?
Satiricus felt so sorry for Minister Hardon being harassed to say he was “sorry”. When he’d said he wasn’t saying sorry to nobody, he hadn’t meant to be “arrogant” like they were accusing him of. Hardon arrogant?! That was a scream. Hardon meant he wasn’t apologising no PPCEE people. THEY were “nobody” and he wasn’t saying sorry to THEM!
He apologises to the PPCEE people and gosh knows where this may end up. Next thing you know they’ll want him to ask the PPCEE people to come into a unity government as Ministers!! “Politics is a game,” thought Satiricus, “where a guy gotta do what a guy gotta do.”
But one thing he ain’t gotta do is to say sorry to the Honourable Gentlemen and ladies across the aisles. Politics means never having to say you’re sorry. To your once and future comrades.
Satiricus was all agog…and not with grog. Yes, he’d been ploughing through the last set of diplomatic cables and his EYES were groggy. But it was this never ending stream of revelations that kept him in a state of nervous expectation. He didn’t care what they said about Julian Asssange – the man was titillating a whole lot of people, including Satiricus.
He was reading up on his latest find:
Date: 2015 APRIL 9, 19:05 (Friday) Canonical ID:2015GEORGE00357_b
Original Classification: CONFIDENTIAL Current Classification: UNCLASSI
(B) STATE 05361
This is to report on the progress of the plan to increase the democratic credentials of Guyana. I am so proud of our efforts and I have both my shoulders to the wheel. But I would want the secretary to know that I still see my posting to this benighted place as a banishment for screwing up on my last posting at ulanbator. I never thought I would be caught screwing.
But back to the plan. As you know we were very upset that burnt ham started rigging elections so crudely since 1973. I think we have finally gotten it right. Last year and into this year we issued 15,002 visas. Even though most Guyanese are now returning with all the progress made by the ppcee, at any time with our visa programme, there will be at least 5000 of their supporters out of the country.
This means that at the elections next month this should put the pee-an-see over the hump. No that was not a Freudian slip and the thought of humping anyone here in this godforsaken place has never crossed my mind. But I hope that when we have effectuated regime change by our surgical method and not the crude methods of burnt ham I will be sent back to ulanbator.
I must report one hitch with the programme. With us giving away visas freely, this has led to the bottom falling out of the backtracking business. Our number one snitch – codenamed “the mook” – who was also the number one backtracker, is very upset. He has not stopped snitching on his friends since this removes competition to his racketeering.
But he also sees the big picture and is helping in the efforts to remove the ppcee and put in the pee-an-cee. He has formed a funding group named fucop and has channelled a billion dollar to our guys.
Over and out. And don’t forget ulanbator when the dust settles next month.
Satiricus had all but bitten his fingernails to the quick. His buddy Cappo could tell he was anxious and worried. And why not? Cappo had informed him that Guyana was suffering from its second attack of AIDS – the first being under Burnt Ham and the Pee-an-See.
“Look how much people bin dead den from AIDS under Burnt Ham!” said Cappo. “Imagine wha guh happen now!”
“Man Cappo, is what schupidness you telling me?” Satiricus complained. “AIDS didn’t get to Guyana till 1987 and by the Burnt Ham was loong dead.”
“1987?! 1987?!” Cappo was practically screaming now. “Budday! Is na me and you bin livin’ right heah? AIDS hit Guyana when Burnt Ham nationalise all dem big business and ban dhaal and flour!”
“So without big business and dhaal and flour, we get AIDS?” asked Satiricus incredulously.
“Sato, old friend, yuh get stupid or yuh playin’ stupid?”replied Cappo with more than a touch of irritation. “Is when you cyaan get job and you na gat money fuh but food yuh does get AIDS. Dhaal and flour na CAUSE AIDS, but when you already gat AIDS, it does help fuh full yuh belly.”
Satiricus looked at Cappo closely to see if he was pulling an elaborate gag. His cane cutter buddy was known for that. But no. Cappo was actually getting upset with Satiricus.
“So tell me Cappo…and exactly how Burnt Ham give us AIDS after he took over all de businesses?” Satiricus phrased his words carefully and made sure he didn’t roll his eyes.
“Geez, Saato,” said Cappo, who did roll his eyes, “How yuh could forget how all abee father lose they job and all abee get AIDS? We use fuh get white mouth.”
“WE – me and you – had AIDS?” Satiricus couldn’t keep his voice from raising. “And how did we get rid of AIDS again?
“Bai, is na when PPCEE throw out the Pee-an-See and all abee get back wuk and we na gat AIDS na mo?” Said Cappo in a puzzled voice.
“And we getting back AIDS now?” asked Satiricus.
“Sayo, yuh na see de sign all around yuh?” said Cappo exasperatedly. “People losin’ deh job, no money, white mout, even dem office people. De Pee-an-See come back. Deh cyaan run nothin’!!!”
Satiricus thought he saw a light. “Cappo what is this AIDS you talking about?”
“AIDS, na! De manager tell abee about AIDS when he seh how dem gon close de sugar estate,” Cappo explained patiently and slowly. He wanted to say the big words correctly “A…I…D…S… APNU Income Deficiency Syndrome.”
“De Pee-an-See does spread it,” he concluded proudly.
Satiricus was in a reflective mood during this Divali – the Festival of Lights. Other religions also invoked “light” at this time, he thought. “There was that time when God spoke to that fella Moses behind a burning bush,” he told his wife. That got him thinking about Moses.
In Judaism, which begat Christianity, Moses’ claim to fame was that he “parted the waters” of the Red Sea with his staff. Now that’s no mean feat, and even though the Red Sea’s sooo saturated with salts you float if you jump in. Through the ages, fellas named always played on the image of them being also capable of “doing the impossible”.
But some Moseses could actually do the impossible – and it didn’t have to be literally parting seas, did it? Like the one in Guyana who could put in his thumb and give public workers five per cent and then pull out the plum that was his $1.7 million salary and $90 million SUV. Such a parting of the public purse was almost on the scale of parting the Red Sea, no?
Or that time when he insisted that no…he wasn’t stripped of any promised power – for a man lusting for power over 50 year, that would be as impossible as parting the Red Sea!! He’d asked, he said, not to be bogged down with too many day to day responsibilities. Who cared about being a “Prime Minister”? He just wanted to be Prime Moocher! The $100 million SUV was just for starters!
But that kind of “power premise” just because of a name, can get your friends upset. Imagine visiting your “constituency” together every weekend and having the PRIME Moocher being asked to “part” the Duck Curry or part the Bush Rum. “It’s no fun being the bridesmaid and never the bride,” whined Rum Jhaat, the Prime Moocher’s sidekick.
And so he decided he would perform a miracle, greater than Moses’. For one hundred and seventy-seven years, the people of the land had all been Lighting their Lights on one day. Even though leaders before had succeeded in dividing them in all sorts of ways – like how to part their hair – none could part them on the Day of Lighting.
Until today. With just a stroke of his pen, Rum Jhaat showed his friend Moses that the pen was mightier that the staff. And rather than wishing each other “Happy Divali,” folks now greeted each other with, “Ah which day yuh a light yuh light?”
“That was power,” marveled Satiricus, as he parted his sweetmeats in two.
Satiricus knew there’s only so much that any man can bear. And most men weren’t like Lot, who, God knows, could bear a lot. But Rum Jhaat WAS like Lot in so many ways. He’d left his home in the east when he parted from his family who said there weren’t enough rice land to support them all. And so Rum Jhaat journeyed to the big city named GT even though he heard of their sinfulness
And though his family’d warned him of the temptations that went on in GT for a young buck like him with wife and children – mainly wine, women and song, Rum Jhaat still went because he wanted to save the people of GT. But every day he faced temptations. His spirit was willing to resist and the flesh was NOT weak, so Rum Jhaat decided to PRETEND to join the GTers in enjoying wine, women and song.
And pretended to enjoy himself. But in truth, he was VEXED with what was going on around himself with all this wine, women and song. Every day he GNASHED his teeth, but did not weep and wail. He’d been inducted into the sordid ways of GT by his older countryman Naga Man. Naga Man had been sent away by HIS family who told him there wasn’t enough fish in the ocean to share with him. Naga Man’s eye was VERY big. Naga Man told him he too wanted to save GT from their evil ways. But before they could change the GTers, the two of them would have to gain their confidence.
And under Naga Man’s tutelage, Rum Jhaat SAMPLED every Rum Shop in GT, KNEW every working girl and BLASTED “Rum Till I die” from morning to night. Soon he not only caught up with Naga Man but actually SURpassed him on the women and song. When it came to “wine”, Naga Man could out drink even a fish. But then he and Naga Man were elevated to High Office just when they felt they’d learnt the ways of the GTers.
But if the truth be told, they weren’t so vexed any more with the wine, women and song. In fact, they conceded in private, the carousing and carrying on wasn’t too bad! And so it came to pass when the Big Poombah asked Rum Jhaat to “crack down on wine, women and song”, Jhaat decreed that folks could drink for only 22 out of the 24 hours in the day, “I’s Bones could only drag working girls from the Bush and songs could still be blasted from stereos all day and night and even from vehicles.
But now the Big Poomba wanted to crack down on gambling? Forget it. He and Naga Man were heading back East. Too vexatious!
Satiricus was very disappointed in the younger Ministers of the Government. He knew they weren’t too many of them, but this was no excuse for not honouring the senior citizens who outnumbered them three to one. Satiricus had held his breath all of October because he knew this was “Elderly Month” and now he was blue in the face and had to let his breath out.
Why were they so oblivious to the disrespect they were showing their geriatric colleagues? Did they not also bleed? Did they not also have feelings? Or was it payback time? Satiricus had heard about the rift that had developed when the Cabinet voted on salary increases back in August. This was Emancipation Month and it was clear that the geriatrics were going to emancipate themselves on the backs of the young brigade.
The youth men had been led by “I is” Brokes. “We is de fyu-cha and we should get de mo money. We gun get mo time fuh spend it.”
Naga Man had led the argument for the geriatric brigade. “Listen, y’all” he said in that oily voice that only he could curl his tongue around. “We should get de mo money, because we gat fuh spend we money quick, quick.”
And so it went on for hours, with each side yelling, “Mo money! Mo money fuh we!”
Until finally Naga Man, panting for breath, pointed out, “Look y’all. Look how we went along with y’all and screw we fellow pensioners. We give dem $4000 wid we right hand and tek back $5000 wid we left hand.”
“And what dat gat wid you tekking $1.7 million?” asked “I is” Brokes, truculently.
“Well, maybe de rest of we geriatric set starving out dere wid deh pension,” replied Naga Man, “but at least when deh see we living it up, they can feel pride dat old people can still have a good time.”
“And why de arse dey gon feel “pride”?” snarled “I is” Brokes testily. She had been hoping to use a big raise to go into the bush to bring out more working girls. Now she would have to just walk around Regent Street.
“Well, my dear Brokes,” said Naga Man snarkily, “We old people does call it “vicarious pleasure”. Is like when we geriatrics does just LOOK at dem working girls you does bring out from de bush.”
“Well, wha sweet a mouth does burn down deh,” said “I is” Brokes as the youth brigade were outvoted three to one. “Payback is a bitch! And revenge is best served cold.”
“And that was why,” Satiricus thought ruefully, “two months later, there was no ceremony for the geriatric members of the Cabinet.”
And “I is” Brokes didn’t even bring out some working girls for Naga Man and the rest of the geriatrics to ogle. That was icing on the youth brigade’s cake of revenge.
Satiricus felt a bit sad, but at the same time very proud. He was reading about TrotterMan running through the Great Hall of the People at Liliendaal shouting “Oil is coming!! Oil is coming”. And he was sad that Naga Man, who lived right here in Liliendaal had been sent out of the way to the City of Smog in Mexico.
Naga Man even had the road from his home to the Great Hall asphalted for this drive to herald the coming of oil. He didn’t even move into the Big Mansion in town so he could be on time to make this announcement. There had never really been any rats: that was just a tall tail tale. But here he was in Mexico sighing softly “paddy price gone down; paddy price gone down”.
And Satiricus was proud that Naga Man was bearing all his humiliations with such grace. But Satiricus, as a man who knew Naga Man for decades, knew that he, Naga Man, was hurting. This was the same TrotterMan who had been selected to become the Talker in the Public Buildings over him, M wasn’t he? And why? THEY said he was still smelling of curry and PPCEE.
And after he had taken long baths and dipped into the Atlantic – not to mention cussing out the PPCEE – he had joined with THEM. Then THEY had promised him to be FIRST AMONG MINISTERS – Optimus Prime. But when the fateful day OF THE CHOOSING came they gave him just the name – but not the claim to RESOURCES. That went to the TrotterMan. A fella did predict he would get “larwah”, but Naga Man didn’t give him much mind. Some said it was because TrotterMan was Pee an’ See …but Naga Man didn’t think so.
And so it came to pass THEY made him push paddy IN Mexico – just like when he used to kick paddy with his bare feet in Berbice as a lad. And TrotterMan got to cry “Oil is coming! Oil is coming!” – not because he was Pee an’ See but because he buy oil for his father’s car. He had even got to fly in a helicopter like his hero Forbes to see the Oil Rig. Naga Man soooo wanted to fly in a helicopter.
But because Naga Man was a patriot he did the best with what was given to him. And even though he didn’t get the Mexicans to buy any paddy, he did get their recipe for Spanish Rice and a bottle of tequila.
In the meantime he wished TrotterMan well for the Maserati he received for giving the speech to all the oil companies. “He knew how to fill up the Maserati with gas,” said Naga Man with a sob.
He was so happy for his country he could cry! And Satiricus was so proud of him. The bottle of tequila would make everything Ok.
Satiricus was sure there was a simple answer to all the fuss being made across the country. “No, not the salary raises,” he corrected himself quickly, “there’s no answer to that piece of political madness!” Or maybe it was just plain greed the Jhaat had said was the root of all crime? And that salary raise sure was a crime!”
Satiricus was actually thinking about the brouhaha around Diwali…which he’s always liked even though he wasn’t a Hindu. It was always so peaceful yet kitsch with all those overdone lights. Satiricus always believes “more” was good! And when you can string lights on anything that’s not moving…and in the Diwali motorcade, even what’s moving – that was like heaven!
Satiricus was thinking about Diwali because the Indian Ambassador had cleared up everything as to why Rum Jhaat had chosen November 10 over November 11 as the day to light up the lights. Satiricus hoped that everyone would now settle down and get on with preparing for the big day.
It had nothing to do with vaulting one set of people who the Jhaat knew could “deliver” the Hindu vote over another who’d been doing so for the past 41 years or so – to the “other side”. The Jhaat would never be so crass. He might every now and then let out a “haul yuh ass” to a pesky reporter, but beyond that, he was the epitome of propriety and panache. He only picked his nose in private.
“More to the point we’re discussing,” thought Satiricus, “the goodly Ambassador revealed that in South India Diwali is actually celebrated on November 10! And there you have it.” Naga Man was a South Indian – “Madrassee” as he was proud to say. He might deny he was “Indian” but “Madrasee”? Never. So it was to honour his old pal and lawyer protégé Naga Man that Ramjattan chose November 10! All the slights that Madrasee Naga Man wrote so poignantly about in his book – like having oily, greasy hair – was now going to be wiped out. And in spades!
All his tormentors would now have to celebrate Diwali on November 10!! The day HIS people celebrated Diwali over in India. But he WASN’T Indian. “What did it matter that the Accord didn’t give me any power,” thought Naga Man. “THIS was power – the power to have revenge. And revenge is best served cold!”
“Let them put that into their hookah and smoke it!!” Concluded Naga Man as he took a swig of rum. “My very own holiday! Even Baseel with his tax-free salary doesn’t have that!”
“It was a good thing that the Jhaat didn’t go all the way, and changed the name to “Deepavali” like they did in South India,” thought Satiricus.
“Imagine the trouble Guyanese would have to pronounce one of their public holidays!”