I the pity of it: tender lids tightened into a crescent, as happens with mortally wounded birds; infolding, no longer able to yield, a turning inwards of the ability to light up.
I put my hand into my pocket, for my phone. It is not necessary. Pale and brisk as this morning, the police car slides into my peripheral vision.
A street in Trinidad: the soft, brown ‘ground doves’ have the same manners as the pedestrians. Unhurried, they traipse along in front of cars. Why did the ground dove cross the road? I don’t know, but it’s certainly taking its time.
The exception came plummeting out of the recessive sky, into the back yard’s concrete rain gutter. Had a neighbourhood boy felled it inexpertly? Had the ecstatic efficiency of its heart thumped to a stop? It lay there, the softness, and would not, could not bestir itself.
The child strewed it with yellow and scarlet wild lantana flowers, thinking of burial, accustomed to cremation; feeling a sudden fear. The parents took it all away.
And when the dove was gone, another came plummeting the same way; the riddle repeated – to be moved, moving, and never to move. Love or some other force was identical in the equation.
We brought few friends home who were not already part of at least a two-generation family circle. We brought few friends home. This time my brother had introduced a soft and brown and tallish young man in his early twenties, who weighed not much more than a hundred pounds. By historical pattern, not personal choice, in our secular Hindu household, this was the first Muslim friend our age.
Perhaps it has changed; but non-Indo-Caribbeans used not to be aware that ‘Ali’ and ‘Mohammed’ are not ‘Indian’ names. And in that unawareness they are linguistically wrong, but more profoundly right: for our ancestors brought over a shared Indian village culture, over a century before the creation of Pakistan in the Indus area made such a difference. And in that Trinidad remote from Trinidad’s Trinidad, and nonetheless most mixed and Trinidadian, a lunatic reverberation was set up by the 1947 Partition – some third-generation immigrant families briefly fought according to the lines of what had not been a division. In lands far away, current events were indirectly regenerating or inventing this part of Trinidad’s past also. By 1990, we knew that there must be some difference.
We sat on the nice imported sofa with the delicate novel unicorn visitant who looked just like us.
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