year, I spent Christmas all alone. I was vex with some people
home. Indignant, self-righteous and bitter, wanting to hurt
both others and, somehow, myself, I stayed by myself. It was
one of the most selfish things I had ever done.
Theres an I in every sentence here; it was
selfish not only to others but also to me. Everyone was denied
something, me most of all.
There is no more cliched or hyperbolic time of year than this.
Its the most wonderful time of the year, the hap-happiest
season of all when carolling we-going with much mistletoeing
and feelings of good cheer.
Theres parang, soca parang, Scrunter, Sprangalang, sorrel,
ginger beer, ponche de creme, Shandy, and all those ancient
music videos of Kelwyn Hutcheon and the girl with the enormous
perm. (She had a set of big hits, whoever she was.)
Theres just so much going on all around us that its
impossible to exclude oneself from it.
I focused on exams, work and my hair. I worked right through
the holidays, even on Christmas Day.
It wasnt nice. In fact, it was unbearably painful. But
I had made my decision and was sticking to it. If I wasnt
embraced as I ought to have been, I wasnt giving of
myself to anyone.
Prodigal son, indeed.
Power of memory
Going to and from work, in the heat of midday traffic, when
everybody and their nenen was in a mall, I would sit in the
car, seething. And suddenly a memory would spring to mind.
I remember the year I bought a $300 glass for my mom. Yes,
a $300 glass. Time was running out, the mall was getting tight-tight
with people, and I needed something fast.
It was a pretty glass. I dont think my mother every
drank from it. Never again went back to that store.
Returning to my off campus apartment, I could not help but
notice Ms Bhagwansinghs ode to electricity. It was and
still is practically blinding, but remains one of those sights
everyone looks forward to seeing.
My house in south was the Christmas house, I envisioned as
I passed by. The prettiest house on the street. It had icicles
on the eaves, coloured lights on the trees, garlands in the
porch, the works. Mom always had that creative flair.
I heard the tree that year was done in white and gold and
burgundy. I never saw it.
Somehow it became a habit for me to listen to Camille Salandys
solacing voice on the radio every Christmas Eve as I drove
from town. She played the most enchanting choral music, and
it set my Christmas moodquiet, serene, contemplative.
Its one of those things that was so mundane, and yet
meant the world to me.
That year, I realised how much the silly little thing meant
When I woke up on Christmas morning, it was very, very quiet.
Christmas Day was always special, and a Trini Christmas was
just the best.
For once, the whole family would actually be in the same place
at the same time. There would be so much food, Id not
know what to start eating. The pungent taste of home-made
sorrel was familiar and pleasingit tasted like Christmas.
Pastelles would slide out of fig leaves. Somebody would end
It never mattered, the gifts. In fact, for the past few years
I had asked for nothing. (I had learned my lesson after getting
that mini water gun in my stocking one year.)
Gifts didnt matter that much on a day like Christmas.
The day was too big, gifts would pale. What made the day big
was familyhuman relations. The one year I had none of
it was the one year I realised how much it mattered.
What if the people I loved were no longer around? How foolish
and selfish could I be?
Im going home for Christmas tonight.
The family of Vindra Naipaul