There's a little old man, an extremely old man, actually, who drives around Valhalla – day in, day out. The immaculate silence of his dented, dirty Honda speaks to care that he has no control of or desire for, in contrast with its beaten and bruised shell.
His speed is luxuriously slow. Like an emperor on parade, he is the lane – creating, defining, establishing a new space in this new world order and daring you not to acquiesce.
So you pull aside or follow patiently behind.
There's a little old man in Valhalla, possibly older than Valhalla itself, whose days meander on a single constant journey. To his son's house and back home again. To his son's house and back. To the sun, and back.
He ventures the occasional smile, ever so fleeting and even more rare, but keeps his eyes on the road. To the son's house and back.
This is what retirement looks like for the Sugar Baron.
To suggest that the day my doorbell rang was a day like any other, would be blah.
Friends wasting away a day over cheap alcohol and cigarettes. Simultaneously, too young and too old to care about anything other than aggressive sting of an ancient door buzzer.
Although we weren't actually expecting anybody, we always were. But most of us/them knew well enough to traipse around the house to the back, no greeting or particular ceremony required, and join in whatever was taking place.
On this day, we were indulging in the infinite wisdom of mandatory sterilization and the seemingly endless potential of the financial minority to multiply.
“But my tax dollars are paying for that! How does a night of pleasure give them the right to penalize me?”
“It's not a penalty. They didn't come from where we came from, they don't have access to-”
“Condoms?! Just let them stop breeding!”
And then the interruption.
He was old. He was new. He was ours.
The old boy, in all of his elderly elegance, believed that an old chum of his lived here. The proper Anglo-Trini accent contrasted sharply with the faded khaki shorts and rubber slippers, but he was elegant nonetheless.
An old, slightly intoxicated and/or Alzheimer's stricken old man. But he was old. And he was new. And he was ours.
Law school made him hard. As an Indian, and really just a West Indian (which was the same reprehensible thing as a black chap in England) the racism, the unfamiliarity, and the loneliness still burdened his frame.
A white couple, from Dentistry perhaps, had a home he called his. Their names, faded with age and the pent up frustration of understanding that their kindness was pity, cloud his eyes.
His hands are way faster than his feet, though, and his eyes see bright, sparkly, young things. Offended, touched, one leaves.
A beautiful, now successful wife – the well made match – frolicking (and fucking) in the fields with someone else after a bazaar and after their bethrothal – again clouds his vision as the frail frame that once built a dynasty of peanuts and icing sugar weakly threatens with a golf club. Moisture builds in his eyes. And his lap. We have manners. We look away.
“You have to come to my house. Come. It's much, much bigger than yours. It's the biggest in Valhalla. The foundation is at least six feet below the river. Built by me. Because this was once swamp, you know.”
And we go. Because he's old and he's new and he's ours.
Dark Indian. Dark Negro. Darkened minds doubt our intentions as we enter.
“His will has been written already so you can't get anything anyways,” says smiling son. Says shining son. Says stupid sun.
There's a little old man in Valhalla. Who drives back and forth to nowhere from nowhere. Because all of his friends are now dead.
He's old. Not new. Not ours. Not theirs. Just regal.
Contributing Writer: Nicole Martin
Nicole is a creative professional, writer and editor
based in Trinidad and Tobago.
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