A repost from my first blog:
My favourite spot on campus is a spreading tree somewhere near the
center of the University's Chapel Gardens. The Chapel Gardens is an
amazingly beautiful and serene respite from the hustle and bustle of
general university life. Frankly, I've fallen in love with the place. I
go there to relax, to read, to study, to practise speeches and
presentations for classes, to sleep (yes, it is relatively safe there,
and sleeping in the blazing sun gives me a good feeling, like I'm
charged with Vitamin D!! lol), or just to sit and think.
went there to sit and think, because I'd been running from one class to
another, and I felt exhausted, and there were things weighing on my mind
that needed to be properly thought out. Interestingly enough, I got a
whole lot more to think about than I bargained for.
A young man
stopped me. He looked around my age or maybe a little older (early 20s).
He was wearing a faded t-shirt and jeans (the proverbial university
attire) and he walked up to me with his long arms swinging listlessly at
He told me that he was going to kill himself today.
The rope was set and everything. He was going to kill himself, he said,
because he was tired of "hard life." He said he had been living in a car
for three weeks because his landlord had kicked him out of his house
since he was unable to pay his rent. He told me how the rains (we have
been getting a lot of rain lately) had soaked him and he couldn't sleep
properly at nights. He was broke, busted and very disgusted with life.
He wanted out.
I stood there wondering at first why he chose to
tell me his very sad tale of woe and dejection. I wondered if he was
trying to con me into giving him money. I stood there looking at him,
and listening, and wondering if what he was saying was true, and if I
should believe any of it at all. He assumed I was a Christian and asked
me to pray for him. He told me again and again that I had no idea what
it was like, that I had no idea what he was going through, that I didn't
understand and that he was just really tired, and he didn't see any
point in living anymore.
I stood there listening to his story for
longer than I intended to. I think what got me was the way he just
looked and sounded extremely sad. You know how sometimes you can look at
people and see sadness in everything about them? In the downturned
mouth corner; the chapped, dry lips; the dirty clothes and fingernails;
the tattered shoes, and even the way they have a tendency to sling one
elbow over the head and and use the other arm to hold it up, like the
arms are supporting the head-weight while the head is supporting the
arms? He looked like that. Everything about him just said sad. And his
voice cracked while he spoke and there were tears in his eyes. I think I
I asked him his name. And he told me a name. I'm
not sure if the name he gave me was his real name. Let's call him
Phillip was unemployed. Both his parents were dead, he
said, and he didn't get along very well with the other members of his
family. He said he lived in one of the communities surrounding UWI, that
he used to be a gun-slinger, one of the "bad men" in his area. He said
he decided to give all of that up because he realised that it was wrong,
but now, since things were so hard, he was thinking about going back...
or just killing himself...
Maybe I'm just young and
impressionable. Maybe I'm still a bit naive. But it bothers me. I can't
shake this experience from my mind. What if it was true? What if he was
really so disenchanted with life that he had decided to end it?
said I didn't understand. And he was right. I don't understand. I don't
understand what forces cause a society to become so despondent that
people see no solution at all anywhere in sight and just decide to take
someone else's life or give up their own?
reminded me of the man in Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautiful Ones Are
Not Yet Born. I mean, people are only human. They do the best they
can with what little they have and sometimes that just isn't enough.
What then? "What do you do when you've done all you can and it seems
like you can't make it through?" asked Donnie McClurkin. Phillip was
asking the same thing. What was I supposed to tell him? I didn't know
what he was going through. He was obviously frustrated, to the point
where he preferred to die than live anymore. He wanted some money to pay
his rent, and to live a fairly decent life, and really, is that too
much for anyone to ask?
Jamaica is a beautiful country. There are
so many things right with our country. And so many things wrong.
Sometimes we get unfairly stereotyped by foreign media. They make it
sound like just the thought of coming to Jamaica is dangerous, like as
soon as you step off the plane and onto Jamaican soil, you will have
bullets whizzing past your ears and have to pull a Hilary Clinton (run
Sunday, April 6
It's ironic that
Amnesty International recently released thier International Report for
2007, and that, Jamaica, once again, is being chided for some downfall
in its justice system. This time it's the violence that the Amnesty
Report claims Jamaican Government allows to go unchecked. To quote one
of their website's news reports, "Jamaican authorities are wilfully
neglecting the poorest communities by failing to tackle the violence -
and its causes - that is shattering inner cities."
The report says we have a public security crisis
in Jamaica. I only just had a debate with a friend of mine over the use
of this word crisis, and what she believes is an oversensationalised,
hyped-up media that tends to be very "unbalanced and alarmist" (direct
quote from her).
Now I won't even bother to get into that right
now, but, I urge every Jamaican to get hold of a copy of that report,
and read it for yourself. See what it says. And make a decision about
it. There have been some articles in our newspapers over the title of
the report alone. Because, in my, and their, humble opinion, it says a
whole damn lot: "Let them kill each other: Public Security in Jamaica’s
Let them kill each other? Now, in the case of the
young man I mentioned earlier, that isn't even necessary, is it? The way
things were going for him, he was willing to kill himself... It's
something to think about, isn't it?