The old minibus and the Guyana dream

The old minibus and the Guyana dream

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by Vidyaratha Kissoon

“Yall give me a minute leh me trow dis gas in” the minibus driver said.

He had stopped on edge of the wet road.

He took the dirty white bleach bottle which hung by a red string from the gear stick with him.

I asked the other passenger what was going on and the man said he ain’t know .

The dashboard was no longer black, it had become grey and brown. Skies were grey. I would have stayed home but baigan choka and roti at Mon Repos had called me out.

There was a nice bright pink/purple coloured torchlight on the dashboard which contrasted nicely with the grey skies and the dashboard.

There were holes on the dashboard where the sound system parts used to be. ‘Rajesh Baby’ was in faded letters at the top , in between two Om symbols. There was a faded sticker of Radha Krishna, on the left of the wind shield.

In a week of GECOM chairman madness, and Charles Ramson SC pulling up his former Comrade,the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister and Minister Ramjattan cussing up Jagdeo about Red House and so and people wondering if Jagdeo would meet Granger to talk about GECOM chairman instead of fluffing around the Constitution and the Parking Meters which are a done deal and the fear about what Exxon and Trump and Putin and Oil would destroy Guyana more than build it.. it was nice to be next to the driver making do with Rajesh Baby with all its flaws and the coolie icons.

With all the talk of the ethnic divisions and so on, feeling nice in living the dream of Guyana in Rajesh Baby with the black driver who was not bothered by the two Om over his head. The other picture of unity was the one in the bushy yard where the bird vine was choking the blooming ixora and the other flowers which are no longer separate plants.

The driver’s side had the GRA and other documents pasted on with dirty tape. There was a CD player fitted on the dashboard which had not played music for a long time. There was a 2012 Hits CD case hits , label faded, slightly warped tucked into the screen visor above the driver. There was a white plastic spoon tucked in there too.

Another hole on the dashboard had the wad of notes which the driver had earned so far, hundreds and twenties. He left the wad of notes there while he went to put back the gas. Something about the trust there.

The window was half way up, and the handle for the window was the bare metal which looked like it had not moved for a long time.

The driver came back.

He hung the bleach bottle by the red cloth on the gear stick.

“De gas gauge aint wukin ‘ “

The ignition was not keys, but a piece of wire . Driver hot wiring Rajesh Baby

I fiddled with the seat belt and realised that the buckle snap had broken a long time ago too, and it was only there in case police stopped the bus and we had to hold down the buckle.

“So dis is you bus?.. wondering if he had kept the bus just so, Om, sticker, Rajesh Baby memorial, old CD and maybe the plastic spoon from the previous drivers.

Something about history and handing down and maybe the man carrying on with the flaws, maybe he would fix some of them.

Thieves did not only rob a mandir in West Coast Berbice, but had destroyed the murtis. Some thieves move in and out quickly, take what they want. Something about the destruction , the hate for things Hindu or just for things which look nice and mean something to other unknown people.

In addition to ketching the bandits, it would be good to hear what really drove that hatred. How many other people in Guyana hate at that level.

‘Nah is somebody bus, I just wukin it’ he said.

I wanted to ask who was Rajesh Baby, and why hang the bottle with gas on the gear stick and if he was Hindu and knew what the Radha Krishna sticker was about.

There was something about the man working the bus, giving it life. Something about how many people try to give Guyana life and how many of us are fooled into thinking ‘Guyana is we own’ when really and truly it belongs only to the rulers of the day.

A young driver who was blasting music earlier in the week had pointed out the sophisticated sound system to me. I had jumped in the front seat because I had no choice just like how so many of us live in Guyana because we have no choice.

I mouthed to him..’ you gun get deaf’

The young driver of the shine new bus turned down the music to tell me

“Nah man, we does born deaf” He had a slight smile.

“You know this gun mess up your ears and your brains.”

“I young, I living .. enjoying life before I get old and deaf”.

I had to laugh.

I started quoting ‘aye man, you gotta live good now, so you could be young fuheva.. today well lived gun mek tomorrow a vision of hope (or youth)”

I felt nice, he turned down the noise to engage. Not quite Granger and Jagdeo, but close.

He laughed, looked away, turned up the music again and resumed bupping his head.

He saw a young woman waiting to cross by a pedestrian crossing and he stopped and glanced at me while she crossed.

I was not sure if he stopped at every pedestrian crossing. I don’t know if the Exxon Oil find would save him and the other people who turn up the music from deafness.

The Marriott was supposed to be a saviour for Guyana. There was slight news about Chinese citizens who did not want to move from the Entertainment Complex. Like so many things in Guyana, it seems the situation is cloudy. So lots of Ambassadors and so on having dos not far from the place where Chinese citizens are living dangerously according to the Kaieteur News.

A young woman told me about adjusting to her job as a fast food attendant. She has to be on her feet all the time. She has been told different things about how to care for her feet and legs.

She likes to read “My mother used to tell me not to read with the lamplight in blackout or my eyes would go bad” she said with a smile.

Not as bad as the young man who like loud music who damaging his ears because the future is far away.

Now though, with work and so, she doesn’t get the time to read. She had to move from being self employed because ‘you know things aint good now ‘ and to get the job which she was grateful for except that ‘I don’t get to read’. Young black woman.

Another 32 year old woman with a bright 7 year old daughter said she could not read and write. With my middle class stupidness, I said.. man, must try and see nah, go somewhere, but near where she was there was nowhere for her to go to learn to read and write.

She laughed and pointed at her daughter “Nah she gun read fuh me”. Young coolie woman.

Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution says that “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

So the old minibus driver who hot wiring his bus with the gas gauge, the young bus driver who like the loud music and living for now, the young woman who like to read but doesn’t have time to read, the young woman who cannot read and has nowhere or no incentive to go and learn to read.. somehow.. Article 13 is to mobilise all of us to get past the GECOM madness, and the madness around the Commissioner of Information and the Prime Minister, to say no to the Parking Meters and the hope that Oil would save Guyana and that the Marriott is a good thing with the people from China living dangerously in it.

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