September 3 – a muted heartache
By Sherwyn Walters | Tue, August 28, 2012 - 12:01 AM
NEXT MONDAY will be two years to the day.
Shanna, Kellisha, Pearl, Kelly-Ann, Tiffany and Nakita. Gone.
The fire ravaged our hearts too.
But the nation’s burning, choking, breaking down in heavy-hearted sorrow have since met with the chantwells’ silence. Oh, they sang all right: sang comments about political misgovernance and told happily of once upon a wine and such – but not once upon a September night.
We have long needed to gather up in song the national grief, the national trauma, the national outrage, linking hearts around our tragic undoing, partnering those closest to the fire – with feeling.
In the last few days, the Muse gave me some song titles (about 50, actually), and in the spirit of song – not with rhyme and song phrasing and verse and chorus; just title, the “I” persona, experiences, emotion and refrain– here are some song-nature vignettes of lives touched by September 3.
About a family member who visits the grave . . .
Flowers For You: My hands tremble with these lilies. My lips quiver, tears fall and my heart sinks – again. I’ve come to spend some lonely time with you. But your name just stares at me as you lie there cold. But I feel a fierce heat at memories of an inferno.
Goodbye, darling. Maybe I’ll bring a rose next time, to match my still bleeding heart. Yes, I’ll be back with more flowers for you.
About a mother/father who lives with untamed rage . . .
Victim Of Hate: I get through the daytime. Somehow. Sometimes this tired face manages a smile. But then the quiet dark of night brings bogeymen who perplex my heart. The pillows and bed sheets tell tales of sweating and twisting and turning. And the heavy air knows of groans that often are prayers. I pray for an end to this journey of rage and hate.
Yes, I’m angry as hell and I want some kind of revenge. Please don’t judge me. You may have cried, but you still don’t know what it is like to be a victim of hate, to live this life of hate.
About the many Barbadians who cried and still cry . . .
Crying In The City: The City was closing its eyes but still selling its wares. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The hands on Satan’s watch reached towards seven. And other hands swung, and flung fire and death. Then flames rose up to heaven out of this hellish thing. And six were struck down. As bad news attacked our hearts, we cried in The City. We are still crying in The City.
About a supportive friend . . .
I Will Help You Through: My face contorted too. I too was racked with heaviness of heart. The fire burned me too, burned a hole in my heart. And I bawled our sorrow. Although I did not labour with her, I feel your need. So lean on these shoulders, dear. Come into these arms of mine. Cry into me. I will hold you up – I will. I will help you through.
About those who have come to a stark realization . . .
It Could Have Been Me: I am out there. I go to the store. I go to the supermarket. What if that man wants what is not his? Why is he wearing a hoodie? Am I guilty of profiling? There is a guard with a baton neatly tucked, but what can he do? I exit and walk away – nothing happened this time. But it could have then and there. A knife. A gun. A Molotov cocktail. And I too would have burned. Still, I will not live with fear and staring. But it could have been me.
About a mother/father who needs help and hope . . .
Jesus, Help Me To Live Again: Since my pain came home, I have burned too, with grief, with rage, with hate to high heaven. I pounded walls, shouted at you, Jesus. Asking questions you did not quite answer. Why? Why? Why? And spent myself out to a strange mix of apathy and hardness of heart. I am dying every day but I can’t go on this way. Jesus, help me to live again. Jesus, Jesus, help me to live again.
That’s my prose bit. But song artists, especially calypsonians and your songwriters, you hold sway. Go beyond the season. Give the people a song to sing, a song about September’s anguish.
For song concretizes experiences, captures our heart-speak, our emotions, and spreads them over the mass, eternalizing our critical moments, expressing our humanness, making us brothers and sisters.
And when grief comes so rough, so raw and grips us so tightly, we need to sing, to hear, to feel.
Chantwells, why are you silent about our heartache?
. Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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