VS Naipaul has long since been my ultimate guide for understanding the part of Trinidad I grew up in. Especially books like Mystic Masseur, The Suffrage of Elvira, Miguel Street and of course, The House For Mr Biswas. Read the his description of Mrs Tulsi, the conniving and deceptive matriarch of the household, a woman that Biswas comes to call the old she-fox because he believes he has been conned into a loveless and unwanted marriage to serve as a bond servant to the family, and you'd be hard pressed to believe that Kamla Persad-Bissessar was not the person he patterned the character after. Indeed, the character is patterned after Naipaul's grandmother, from all accounts. And she is painted as manipulative, insidious and dangerous. What brought Mrs Tulsi to mind this morning was the way our current Prime Minister seems to use her ill health and female fragility to it's optimum use. Yesterday at 10 am MSJ Leader, David Abdullah announced his party's non participation in the Eat Ah Food Fete. He announced too the withdrawal of MSJ members from state boards, and roundly boofed the current regime for partying at an inappropriate time for all the wrong reasons. It was the kind of press conference and announcement that was bound to set national tongues a-wagging. But we'd hardly had time to digest the impact of Abdullah's statements than there was an announcement by Ag PM Jack Warner (imagine, a man under corruption charges from FIFA is our Head of Government...if this is not an indication of how low we have fallen) that the PM, on state visit to various parts of the Caribbean and in Barbados, had fallen ill and had been checked into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Reactions were mixed. Some citizens immediately made a joke of it, alluding to the PM being hungover or "rum sick". It is not the first time the PM has fallen ill while serving. Last year when she succumbed to a bout of illness, her Minister of Education blamed it on two tins of peas attacking her ankle. Prior to the peas tin attack the Prime Minister managed to contract dengue at the same time that several other citizens, and her grandson were also suffering attacks. It's no secret that the PM is ill. What is a secret are the actual details of her illness. And since the PM is now a public figure, citizens want,and I think quite rightly, to know what is the exact state of the PMs health. In 2010 the PM missed a meeting with Hillary Clinton because she was once again ill. But yesterday's illness made me do a double take...this morning.In the past whenever the PM succumbed to a bout of illness it would take days for her to recover. At 6pm last evening there was the announcement of her illness and the PM undergoing a "battery of tests", at 7 am this morning news reports indicated that the PM had discharged herself from the hospital and was on her way home. Unless I am mistaken tests usually require a certain period of time to be run, and there is always an observation period. Was the PM in hospital long enough for proper tests to be run? Was what amounted to less than a 24-hr stay actually adequate? I can only assume that the PM was so longing to be home with us that at the risk of her own health she discharged herself and came home. It's either that or the PM wasn't as sick as we thought her. Since arriving in Trinidad she flew to the San Fernando General Hospital and then went home. The Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex has been put on alert.
The Ag Prime Minister, Warner, has used this current bout of illness to justify the PM's need to have her sister or cousin function as her travel assistant. He didn't call for a nurse, or medical practitioners to accompany the PM on her state visits...he called for family members to be allowed to accompany her on trips. He didn't call for a state approved assistant, he called for a family member to be allowed to travel with the PM on her trips.
Whenever Mrs Tulsi faced a rebellion in her household, she often fell ill, took sick, or had fainting spells that required headsapping by her daughters and contriteness and obedience from the transgressors. I can't quite shake the growing feeling that this PM is once again using her frailty as a get out of jail free card.
De Vice Cyah Done!