THE LOWDOWN: Making it in Bim – if you try
Greetings to you, you and especially you who tune our way to hear the word preached by your humble servant.
Today we have a letter from a Lady Dian and she writes: “Dear Humble, at least Ado is honest that he has a li’l something left in the bottle, but here you are trying to fool the world when we all know that the only thing your cup is full of is drool from checking out that Pakistani girl.”
And now, lady, here is your reply. Ado may rue the day that he advertised his wining skills in public. Me, I learned my lesson. I done with bragging.
I mentioned that “very pretty, super beautiful” Pakistani girl who would make a wonderful second wife, expecting never to see her again.
A few days later she emailed to ask if she could spend an afternoon with me. Worse yet, she came on one of the few afternoons that no one else was here.
Praise be, the Good Lord didn’t leave me without back-up. He sent along her husband, seven feet tall and of robust build.
“I promise you,” she wrote beforehand, “he will not cause you any harm. Perhaps chase some sheep . . . that’s all.”
Well, that was partly true. He didn’t cause any harm. But though I pointed out several chaseable goats and the ideal conditions my field afforded for such pursuits, he never left her side, all the while sharpening his curved kukri dagger on a stone and testing its mettle by slicing a silk handkerchief thrown into the air.
As a result, I spent an enchanting, and very chaste, three hours with a Muslim girl and her charming other half. And she opened up new vistas on some of my more deep-rooted prejudices.
First, she challenged me to differentiate between Islam the religion and Islam the lifestyle. Terrorism, repression of women and suppression of other religions should not be seen as part of the Muslim faith, just as the teachings of Jesus should never have been used to justify cruelty, persecution and the worst torture imaginable in the Spanish Inquisition.
This Muslim damsel showed a tolerance for other people’s beliefs, lifestyles and practices far more liberal than that of most Christians.
Secondly, she made me rethink my usually insensitive views on immigrants in general. Her parents emigrated to a European country and worked their way up to well-to-do financial status. Yet, although born in Europe, she is still sometimes treated as if she belonged somewhere else.
I have always contended that the descendants of plantation workers never got their just deserts for their superhuman efforts to build this country.
And it worries me that successive generations of foreigners come here and soon occupy the upper strata of society.
But is not the labourer worthy of his reward? And if people come here and work hard, take risks and be innovative, should we begrudge them their success?
Last Sunday, Sabir Nakhuda invited my daughter and me to celebrate Eid at his home. And we couldn’t help but be overwhelmed, not only by the lovely food, but more so by the genuinely friendly people who constitute his family and friends. They even let me in on a milk-based power drink with nuts and nutmeg which no doubt facilitates their rapid proliferation.
But if Sabir’s mansion is testimony to the success of yet another poor immigrant, Al Gilkes’ palace not far away was even more of an eye-opener. Al’s balcony would put to shame the one the Queen looks out from at Buckingham. Obviously the poor black Barbadian can make it here as well if he tries.
Barbados has a proud history of welcoming immigrants and they have served us well, starting from the Dutch Jews who arrived shortly after settlement. They were known to be “charitable and pious, a model of the sanctity of family life”. Muslim family life with emphasis on the discipline and upbringing of children should also be a lesson for us.
Limited, managed immigration will always benefit this country. However, we must resist any call to throw wide our gates to “neighbours”. Why, for instance, should neighbours whose vulgar lyrics, “dutty” dancing and record of “voilence” towards women have helped corrupt our youth be given preference over hard-working, enterprising immigrants from elsewhere?
Regionism may be just another form of big-breed racism.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.