It is a clear sign of how much I have lost touch with my roots. Yesterday, a nasty, inconsiderate bird offloaded its burdens on me while I was on the way to the office. I was wearing a suit, and a fine one. If something like this had happened thirty years ago I would have saved my lunch money from school and, on my way home, stopped by the local Dropon man to buy the numbers. I would not have hurled expletives at disappearing feathers and cursed Noah for bringing two birds on-board the ark.
If my palm had itched me terribly thirty years ago I would have tried to cajole my cousins into playing marbles for money, knowing that luck was with me, and I was sure to win. When my palm itched yesterday I worried about bacteria in the metro and on the rails I had held.
It’s more than the Oceans that separate me from my homeland now. And it’s much more than time. I no longer know what leaves are good for what ailments, how to smell death on someone soon to die, what to do if I want to see ghosts and such. I’ve been so long out of the ghetto that I can’t even fake being ghetto any more. The culture of my old community feels like an alien insect that’s been extracted from beneath my skin and taken away for study.
This is perhaps why I never saw it coming. Why I didn’t realise what the bird shit and itching palm portended. You may have seen the news by now – Disposable People was, first, short-listed for the very prestigious Commonwealth Book Prize 2013. Then it won the Regional Prize for the Caribbean!
The funny thing about it is, when I was writing the novel it felt more like a catharsis than a work of art. A purification of the soul, getting rid of memories, superstitions, wickedness, rottenness and things unspoken. Now a panel of international judges thinks that the purge was good. Well blow my fish!
All I can say now is that if I see a fat woman sneeze today I won’t be thinking of Avian Influenza; I will be dragging my skinny negro ass and watermelon belly out on the town tonight to see just what else Destiny has already decided.
Who knows, I already see an email in my inbox from a potential agent…