Jul 16, 2017  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

I live in a home overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is my routine to have my breakfast alfresco-style. Many mornings I would gaze upon the mighty Atlantic and wonder what has become of the nationality known as Guyanese. I don’t need to see the depressing news in the papers that lie next to my coffee cup on the table to cause me to look towards the ocean. I do it because I know in my heart that as the morning wears on, I will continue to be angst-ridden, and in my angst-driven moods, I will look toward the Atlantic for explanations and solace.
I have a special rendezvous with the Atlantic. It will never end, because the Atlantic reminds me of a poor, luckless chap, named Harry Kissoon. He was my father. He worked right next to the mighty Atlantic as the groundsman for Saint Stanislaus School ground. I missed primary school at Saint Thomas More on Durban Street to be with him. There was nothing to do at Saint Stanislaus ground when my father was working, so I roamed the seawall and the beach from Camp Road to Vlissengen Road.
I would spend endless mornings gazing at the Atlantic and on returning to the ground, my father would have waiting for me, some of his milky, barley porridge that my mom made for him each morning. My dad made a real mess of his life, and the Atlantic was there to remind me that I should avoid the pathways of my dad. I did. Once there is the Atlantic, there will that voice coming from it warning me not to make the same mistakes of my father.
freddie-kissoon-300x273Life moves in mysterious ways. I built a home overlooking the place that holds special memories for me.
I did look out at the Atlantic on the many times when the customary, tragic news emblazoned the front pages of the newspapers. I did that on Monday, the day after the horrific arson at the Camp Street jail. I asked myself what next? And I know more tragedies are coming, because this country has lost its humanity. Any country without humane understanding of the pitfalls of human existence will be a heartless one, and will never know moments of mental peace.
I sit on the verandah in the evenings and I watch the endless procession of vehicles going to the various events at the Giftland Mall. It is as if you are in a European capital. Fancy people in fancy cars – so much glitter on the outside, but maybe nothing on the inside. There are times I would be driving home and encounter the starry aura of the glitterati leaving an embassy function. There would be women whose clothes you know cost a fortune and maybe their husbands’ SUVs were specially imported. And I would wonder – so much outside, but is there anything inside?
If we had anything inside of us, then we would have the values of humanity and empathy. We have neither. This is a society where the most horrific, indescribable, physical injury could visit one of our citizens, and our fellow Guyanese would be totally oblivious to its tragic nature. This is a society where the most demonic injustice could be committed and no one gives a damn. No one could be bothered with the savageries, bestialities, and inhumanities that stalk this nation every moment of its existence.
Even the tiniest nation on Planet Earth has human rights interests. Even the most controlled country on the globe has people who would react to man’s inhumanity to man, but not in Guyana. I looked at the violent confrontations between German citizens and the riot police last week in Hamburg at the G20 summit, and there were thousands of Germans in designer clothes, some in brand name joggers, pelting firebombs at the police in a post-modern city, and the philosophical contrast ran through me like bolts of lightning.
Here were people who have it all, enjoying post-modern luxury, but found the time to invoke conscience, humanity and empathy, and protest the inequalities of life in industrial, rich countries. Yet in poor Guyana, people have lost the human capacity to distinguish between right and wrong.
I end with a little story in the National Park last week. I was entering my car, when this super-rich Guyanese woman said hello. I replied, “Did you pay that woman her money?” This was in reference to a death at the lady’s company. She said she did. As I drove away, I said to her, “I am too old and experienced to be deceived.” I only identified her to one person – Leonard Gildarie of this newspaper.