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I eh fraid dem

Indarjit “Apple” Rampersad-singh was my best friend and confidant. He was one of the most decent human beings that I ever met.

He stood for the highest principles of honesty and integrity and always jealously guarded the welfare of his family. He was a dear friend to everyone with whom he interacted and his life, though short, brought joy and happiness to many.

Today, Apple would have been 48 years old. If he were alive, he would have already reminded me of the story of a man who would be so inebriated the few days before Carnival that he would literally be passed out on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

On Ash Wednesday, he would be sober and ready to play mas in his bat costume but would become annoyed and confused when he realised that on that day there was no one around parading in their costumes. This, however, did not prevent “Bat” from walking the streets in his full bat regalia, jumping to the strains of imaginary music.

Dimanche Gras

Carnival Sunday was a special night. Apple would sit in his home and I, in mine, as we watched the Dimanche Gras calypso competition.

After each performer, we would speak at length on the telephone, critically assessing the particular rendition and indicating our disapproval or commendation.

So bold were we that we often discussed how each performance could have been improved and the likely placement of the calypsonian.

If the show dragged on and our stamina was challenged, we would take turns looking at the programme, with one of us wide awake when the results were finally announced.

We enjoyed especially, sharing the calypso artform. Each year, during our six-year friendship, Apple forcefully persuaded me to compose lyrics and a melody that was of “Big Yard” standard.

I would put together a ditty, call Apple and sing my composition over the telephone. After my singing, if there was silence, it meant back to the drawing board, starting from scratch.

If Apple was semi-pleased with what he heard, he would state encouragingly that I was on the right track, but that I was capable of better.

Whenever I threatened to give-up and forget the whole undertaking, he would insist that I was duty bound to compose a “winner” and that my inability to do so was perhaps the slow flow, at that point, of my creative juices.

He spurred me on as an eager coach would his determined pupil, demanding the best results without excuse.

He was an inspiration to many, including me but too humble to admit the vast positive effect he had on our lives.

Yes, I miss him tremendously and more so now, around Carnival time.

There in spirit

Apple loved music and made no apology for listening attentively when he heard a good song which displayed rhythmic and melodious excellence.

He appreciated the challenges faced by musicians and long before I knew him was in fact the manager of a band that played a wide genre of music. When Apple died in October, 2005, I was so distraught that I felt my days for composing and singing calypsoes were over.

However, this year when I thought of Apple, I felt compelled, in honour of his memory, to compose a calypso, this time without the express input of my friend.

Often, in the midst of composing the song, I drifted far away thinking of Apple and what he would say as I put the lyrics and tune together.

I felt that he was with me from beginning to end and as God would have it, my composition this year enjoyed a great run. We placed second in one event and first in two others including the annual Guardian competition.

Thanks to All

Apple always advised that a performer needs to be comfortable on stage. I chose therefore to carefully select my back-ups, not professionals with any tent or stage experience, but friends who would perform well under pressure.

I take this opportunity to thank Suzanne, Janine and Marina and their respective families (all of whom I am sure are grateful that their full names have not been exposed) for learning the lyrics of the calypso, literally overnight.

To those who at a moment’s notice participated in the opening skit—Darren, Nadine, Jeanine, Simon and later on Davina and Antonia.

To the talented brothers Enoch and Daniel Annan of Studio Harmonics Productions Company for arranging the music and performance tracks.

And of course my parents and sisters who gave magnanimous support over and beyond the call of duty.

It was a real team effort made successful only with the will of God.

As I wish all readers a safe and enjoyable Carnival, I invite you to read the lyrics of my composition—I Eh Fraid Dem. It is meant to send a powerful message to all criminals that we are not afraid and that we are better and stronger than them.

Most importantly, with God, we can win the war against crime.

I sang under the sobriquet Rebel With A Cause and my cause remains ensuring that peace, law and order are returned to our beloved land.

Verse 1

I doh care, what dey say, is my country,

An dis land that I love must come first,

No one could tell me—PNM, COP or UNC.

Doh get uptight, doh speak outright unrehearsed,

So when crime, dat nasty scourge is a crisis,

Make us shake, and take us down, one by one,

It takes some one brave like me,

Who eh fraid anybody

To tell de police go and deal with Mucurapo.

I eh fraid dem”

Chorus 1

‘Cause dey want us to run, an dey want us to hide,

An get scared, every time dat we see

Dey kidnapping us,

An when we make fuss,

Is dem dat walking free.

I doh care who get vex, ‘cause is me or you next,

So I sing it openly,

Yuh know de men, who causing de problem,

So implement death penalty.

I eh fraid dem.

Verse 2

You eh hear, de hypocrites, how dey talking,

Walking ‘round, all over town, so squeaky clean,

Pretending to be nice and busy giving advice,

Quoting de scripture, how you mean.

When a man, with a plan, to build a smelter,

Dat will cause your and my death,

He doh have to worry and he won’t be sorry,

‘Cause he flying high in his Bombardier jet

I eh fraid dem.

Chorus 2

‘Cause dey want us to run, an dey want us to hide,

An get scared every time dat we see

How dey squandering, dey have us wondering,

‘Cause no transparency.

Dey blimping in de sky, while more of us die,

Yet dey grinning ear to ear,

Dey having fun, but when de money done,

Is den dey will disappear.

I eh fraid dem.

Verse 3

Look we d oh have a choice, let’s get cracking,

Put aside de politics, for de time,

Focus on issues and listen to other’s views.

So what if your thinking is not mine.

Doh talk race, in dis place, for a moment,

Just look and see the things that make us one.

When we heard de call, we got together for football,

Join forces now, and make dem bandits run.

I eh fraid dem.

Chorus 3

‘Cause dey want us to run, an dey want us to hide,

An get scared every time dat we see,

When de race card play, near Election Day,

No hope for unity.

Call me what you want and I will bear de brunt,

But someone has to make de plea.

Stop de snickering and de bickering,

An fight for our country.

I eh fraid dem.

Chorus 4

‘Cause we want dem to run, an we want dem to hide,

An get scared every time dat dey see

When dey commit de crime,

Dey must do de time, an we will fix our society.

Do not feel despair,

Because we really care,

And with God, we will win the fight.

So hold your head up high,

No more need to cry,

And let us set our country right.

We eh fraid dem.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell