Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Person A: Panman on crutches

Those of you who read it may recall my mention of Person A a few days ago. Person A is a man I found out is named Trevor (nicknamed 'Panman') who used to play his pan outside of HiLo to make money ('busking', as you'd say in some other countries). I used to hear him playing sometimes when I drove by on the main road. I had gone to RBTT (bank) in St. Augustine one day and he was standing near to the door, as most people asking for money do. As I neared, he said: "Panman. I got knocked down by a truck and can't play again ..." I made a sign meaning "when I come back out' - and when I came out I gave him some dollars.

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An Exodus panman in action a few nights ago

The morning before I went to Kernahan, I went back to RBTT. Being a weekend, the place was quiet, but Panman was standing by the door to the ABM asking people for money. When I came back out of the ABM, I gave him some dollars then asked how he got damaged. He told me he had been playing pan in Valpark over Christmas and, on the way home, riding his bicycle along the highway with his pan on the handlebars, a speeding truck knocked him down. The truck never stopped. When he regained consciousness, he was on the road, with his bicycle handlebars bent and his pan (his livelihood) bent and out of shape. When he told me that, I said: "I can't believe the driver didn't feel that and stop." He shrugged his shoulders and said matter-of-factly that people are so busy rushing at Christmas that they don't have time to notice anyone or anything. "But at least is de pan an' de bike dat get mash up. Dey could fix."
It struck me ... Person A is like personA non grata (an unnacceptable person; not worth stopping for) ... the national instrument and the person who plays it being knocked down and destroyed without a care is a symbol of the country itself being 'knocked down' without care by its rapidly moving people. (Also make me think of the national bird - Scarlet Ibis - being hunted and eaten. What other nation eats their national bird and uses its feathers for costumes?)


Anonymous Voice Of the People said...

Sometimes i really don't understand what world you living in. So much wrong goes unheard of in our society..you acting like all of this stuff is new and like if people really care.You really think Trinidadians care..you think when i get up each morning i studying that...i have bills to pay ...mouths to feed. COME ON Elspeth

people like Person A can seek help and assistance but no he chooses to play on the street... that kind of behavior is a real mentality. Imagine if everybody who suffered a bit were to play on the street. Imagine how many people in our society sell weed to make an extra income...WAKE UP Elspeth and see another side of trinidad. In order to understand the people you have to mix with them.....


7:20 PM  
Blogger Elspeth said...

Vox Dei.

Sometimes I don't understand the world I'm living in either (and I'm talking about the same one you live in).

8:52 PM  
Anonymous theglasshermitage said...

Dear Vox,
I must say I admire your vocation. You have more guts than a calabash. The last time I heard that phrase it was being used by some politician to bolster the illusion that the mandate that they had been given came from “the” people and by extension God. When I heard that I rolled my eyes so hard, one of them is still stuck in my brain. “Vox populi, vox dei” indeed!

Which people, Mr. Vox? Exactly which people are you speaking for? Are you speaking for people with no voices because they have for so long been taught to keep quiet and hold their hands out for alms or blows? Or are you speaking for the people who have voices but are afraid to speak because the network of corruption will inflict its revenge? Are you speaking for the people who do speak up and are ignored or ridiculed or shouted down? Are you speaking for the people who having seen all this, have concluded that they might as well be mute? Are you speaking for the people who have knocked the dust off their sandals and left.

Along with being their voice, did “the” people also assign you the task of shooting messengers? As far as I know, and I have only been visiting this blog for a few weeks now, the author of this site never gave the impression that the state of this society is news to anyone. Perhaps you are referring to the “newness” of her approach. And what of it? What if people need a new way to approach things because they have become numb and immune to the familiar voices and other self-appointed representatives of gods. I think that the author is very awake. You can tell this from the way in which she is not allowing herself to fall into the trance of disillusionment. She is trying to reach out. She IS meeting “the” people. She is caring.

If you think that people don’t care, I wish you’d think twice the next time you are walking down the street and receive a spontaneous smile from a stranger, when you see people actually throwing litter into bins, when you notice the razor-sharp creases ironed by a mother into a little child’s school uniform, when someone in the midst of all the gloom takes the time to write a song about the beauty of this place, when an artist tries to show us that we are not strangers to each other, when people from different religions and races and backgrounds cross boundaries to intermingle and share and produce something different and equally beautiful. All these things are the product of caring.

OK, so apart from being the voice of the people, you’re telling us that all you can do really well is to pay your bills and feed your mouths. Don’t be so hard on yourself dear. That’s caring. That’s pulling your weight. That’s doing your part to keeping the wheels on the cart turning? Don’t let the porcine minority get you down. Keep on trotting…and speak for yourself!

1:00 PM  

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