Tuesday 26th April, 2005


Dr.David E Bratt MD

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Here comes the bride

A bad week. A despairing week. Gunshots at high noon in the heart of Port-of-Spain. Shades of 12.30 at Strand or Royal but now in Bankers’ Row.

Past events seem to be coming back to haunt politicians who thought they could control community leaders.

Now it’s talk about locking down parts of the island and bringing back licks. The whirlwind is catching up.

We live in fantasy island. How else to explain the reaction of the woman in last week’s Independence Square shooting whose only comment was that she was sorry she missed her mother’s lunch?

How else to explain the lack of reaction, even from the political opposition, to the PM’s comment, as he watched half a block of Port-of-Spain burn down from lack of water, that he always knew there was a problem with the salt water supply in the city mains?

There is a phenomenon known as “TV replay.” It happens to all of us who watch sports on TV but it is common to anyone who watches TV.

When you go to football and something happens, you instinctively look up for the replay on TV. We seem to be unwilling to believe what we see with our own eyes.

Constant exposure to TV can make you believe that, unless you see it on TV, it’s not true. TV alters reality. People can suffer tragedy and not believe it actually happened. Until they see it on TV.

We must be TV people by now.

Who can’t see must feel.

What to do? Where to go?

Go to a Trini wedding. A rainbow wedding. Nothing better to lift your spirits. Plenty to maco, music like peas, serious dancing, serious drinking, and old talk for days.

Where else are you going to see people dressed up with hat and suit as if they live in England? At 3.30 on a hot, humid Saturday afternoon, that is not easy. Big, fat men sweating in tight double-breasted suits, pretending to be listening to what the priest saying.

Women dressed up to be seen and to see. Most women walk boldly into church, eyes all over the place, men following meekly behind.

The women sit down on the aisle, where they can see the bride coming. The occasional insensitive man walks in briskly, chooses his seat under the fan or near the western window and it’s only after a while you realise the woman walking behind is his wife.

Where else are you going to see two local whites getting married, the priest is a red-faced Irishman, the bestman is Chinese and the chief bridesmaid is Indian?

Last year only 15 Irishmen became priests. Is this one going back? I suppose we will start getting them from Brooklyn.

Unlike most foreign weddings, you must have singing at a Trini wedding and it must be done by a choir. Trini choirs are truly special.

If it’s one thing that’s going to keep us sane in the turbulent months ahead, it’s music. Steelband and choirs. Both should be taken in small intimate doses.

The only place where you can hear a choir properly is inside a small church, where people sit quietly and where you can almost reach out and touch the singers.

Where else can you see a lead soprano singing her heart out whilst she lovingly carries her 18-month baby girl in her arms.

The guests in the church last Saturday broke out into spontaneous applause as the choir finished the I Believe. The priest approved and led the clapping.

The church was filled with humour, joy and that special Trinidadian good feeling that makes you wonder why you ever wanted to leave.

At the reception, young women strut around, still in their high heels, convinced everyone is watching them. The men at the bar are.

The bride and groom arrive to prolonged applause. Speeches are made, picong passes from father-in-law to groom to best man and back.

The bride seems lost in the confusion. No matter, it is her day, she is the centre of attraction and the ancient ceremony revolves around her, even if she does not know.

At one wedding, the bride changed out of her wedding dress as soon as she arrived. The wedding ended quickly. Guests upped and left. People want a little magic in their life and a bride is magic.

Soon the dancing begins. Julio and Sparrow. Heels, ties and jackets come off and older men with flushed faces and glasses in their hands walk vacantly around the dance floor, hoping.

A circle of the floor and we are gone. The magic is soon over. A fellow just gave me a bad drive.



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