I’m starting a new job soon (yes! A real job!), and boy am I feeling that anxiety. Everyone gets those nervous and anxious feelings about any big new step in their life, right? But here I am feeling double the anxiety and nerves, since I’m just a generally anxious person to begin with. All I can think is ‘I really hope I can do this’ and ‘I wonder how long I’m gonna last this time’. Cause let’s face it, I’m a chronic job quitter. Do you know someone like this? Lasts about a few months to maybe a year, then quits and moves on to something else. That’s me. For me, it’s not because the job itself gets difficult. It’s either it gets too monotonous and I get bored with the routine, or I get really fed up with the environment and my coworkers and it starts affecting my mental health.
Once again, this time of the year comes around.
And once again, I have my thoughts on it.
Indian Arrival Day always fills me with bittersweet thoughts and a sense of loss.
We commemorate and celebrate the arrival of a large percentage of our current population. Our history would be so different if the East Indian indentured labourers had never come. Trinidad and Tobago would be a different place entirely.
And yet, this day just makes me think about my confusing feelings of identity. I don’t know my ancestors’ names. I know that my mother’s grandmother came here as a child on one of the boats. But which one? What was her name? What about my mother’s father’s grandparents? What about my entire father’s side of the family? I don’t know what I am, and though that might not seem important to some, it is something I struggle with often.
I think about how history is written and recorded. How it is twisted and changed. I think about all the labourers who were denied passage back to their homes. The ones who were bribed and lied to. I think about what it would’ve been like for them, living on barely enough rations, with only enough money left over to buy rum. Where do you think the association between Indians and rum comes from? In a time where depression, homesickness and loneliness were rampant, how else would they ‘heal’ the pain?
I think about the effects of colonization. The pain that still remains. How the white men told the Indian workers that they were ‘better’ than the African slaves,who were dirty and stupid, and how the Indians believed them because at least they were getting ‘paid’. How the white men tried their very best to keep the two races separated, instilling hatred and fear in their minds. I think about how that racist mentality still runs rampant through this country.
This day needs to become more than just a day to eat curry and dress up in pretty outfits.
This day needs to be a day of healing. A day when we can acknowledge and heal from colonization. A day where we hold workshops on dealing with pain and mental illness. A day where we can work towards undoing the racism between Indians and Africans that only exist because of white men.
When will these things ever happen?
So here I am, stuck in the middle of people celebrating all around me. Wondering if I’m having too many thoughts, or too little. Wondering who my ancestors were. Wonder how I can pay my respects to them properly on this day. Wondering if T&T will ever be able to get to a healing start.
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the last showing of “Takdir: the greatest true love story of Indian Arrival”, a play written and directed by Victor Edwards and researched by Shamshu Deen. It was a wonderful experience. The play itself was beautifully written and directed, the actors were brilliant, the set design was amazing, and the music was breathtaking.
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