By GHK Lall
By Guyanese standards, it has been a relatively dignified December. In fact, it has been the most placid month of this stormy year. Still, I had to wait for the safety of over two thirds of the month to pass, before I am able to say that a strange quiet took hold, mostly on the political front.
I begin with that coal-pot of the raging constitutional entity called Gecom, which itself sounded reasonably becalmed. The chair herself led by example; she is not seen, only heard, like some Greek goddess of yore handing down the unique Guyanese electoral wisdoms from Olympus. I hope that things do not fly to her head, and the lady actually begins to believe (in true Guyanese fashion) that she actually is a goddess. But whenever she speaks, everybody straightens up and listens; this was what happened in December with polite listening across the political force field. The rowdy political pack named commissioners did comport themselves as adults in December, and everybody survived to tell the tale.
Nothing fazed anyone of them: not contract extension for the Chief Elections Officer; not that fun filled extravaganza called house-to-house registration (H2H). People sputtered, but that was all; they shrugged, took things in stride, and moved along. As for that H2H business, I trust that no one is playing around with the algorithms, since that would rupture this artificial tranquility. For the naysayers, I urge revisiting that expensive tech fraud foisted upon the world that was named Y2K. Lots of dollars changed hands, alarms shrilled, and nothing happened. What a bunch of rascals those systems geeks were and still are! I would watch out for them and this H2H affair, already a study in scarlet.
From the wider political leadership war rooms (local politicians fancy themselves to operate like the Pentagon), things were like the French battlefields of World War 1 in one particular December. The combatants laid down their fireworks (it is Christmas) and brought out the joy. The opposition leadership, always insistent upon being the heavy, stuttered and muttered something about oil and bidders and cargoes, but that was about it. The pronouncements lacked the sting and zing of earlier in the year and was characterized by the tameness and lameness of a whimper, if you ask me, but nobody did. This was coming from one, who imagines himself to be Chief Crazy Horse, but is really a sitting duck, given what is in store. Who needs a White Christmas with a country like this? I can’t wait for the Christmas messages.
It would seem to me that the president prevailed once again. After all the verbal fisticuffs and rhetorical roistering, everyone follows the D(A)G School of Conduct: slow, steady, serene, sure. Before people get carried away, I hasten to point out that this is only the temporary dignity accorded to this December, as we didn’t have one last year due to that Scrooge of a fiend unleashed called no-confidence. All are taking a breather, recharging batteries, and finetuning strategies; the latter is going to prove quarrelsome. The mad dash will resume at high intensity on New Year’s Day. Mark my words. Not January 2nd, but the very beginning of the year, it will be one frenzied sprint for the flagpole. Regrettably, it is not foreseen to be the aftermath of March 2. I am saying it from now: all of 2020 is already lost, and that is perfect advance vision, no night vision or sniperscope needed. Look if this is too difficult to digest, then let’s settle for the trusted creole: yuh cud put a crab dawg in chuch, but it is still that kind of dog, and so is this dear land of Guyana of ours. New year, same old dog, same old tricks.
Swinging away from the phony political peace, and in this matter of religious places, this is one dignified nation of worshippers. Pick any Sunday year-round, and nobody is on the streets, save for those heading to speak to and listen to God. Well, so they say, with December being a peak attendance month. Who am I to argue? Things are so sparse, there is not even a dog on the street. Everybody praying (for their party), everybody believing their own, and everybody behaving.
Permit me a slight correction, not everybody behaving themselves. Four gone, then five, and more physically recovering in the ICU wards. I want to get on a stage, pound a podium, shout into a microphone, shake some people by the neck, but what’s the use, since so many are involved? We blame the minibus drivers; they blame the truckdrivers who blame the taxi drivers, and everybody blame everybody else. There is one truth, though: everybody has the ‘right of way’ and the right to an express way on the road. No wonder there is the mayhem that maims.
Returning late last week from all-day engagements, there are no open spaces, no courtesies, no civilized road user. None! It is the bedlam of one pell-mell rush to the grave or geriatric ward. Regarding the latter, serious bodily injury does that to all, including the youthful in years: slower speech, halting in step, retarded in the head. In one word: speed. Clearly, Exxon put a tiger in our tanks, and a viper in our heads. If the political people could somehow dig deep and find it in themselves to slow down and enjoy a carol or two, why not the rest of Guyana? Given what we have for brains, I recognize this is asking too much.
In terms of too much, there was a personal one that made me blue and sing the blues. Literally. Two friends of rare vintage were invited to share some Christmas cheer. I made the mistake of extending the usual legendary Guyanese hospitality: it had to be Johnnie Walker Blue, since the other colors will not do. All of it was gone in approximately 30 minutes. I held my head in my hands and cried myself to sleep. It was that kind of December for one brief moment. All in all, Guyanese can behave themselves, but only when they choose to do so. Their time, their way, their standards, and their terms.
Happy holidays everyone.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.