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This report is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.

Letter Not From Trinidad Vahni Capildeo
In the dark of the year, I would say; by which how many readers would understand ‘fall’ or ‘autumn’? In the dark of the year, I say, dismissing the idiot words that do not mean rainy season, hurricane season, when sodium street lamps go on in the morning that has darkened like a god’s face, and the way to school is orange-lit, and the mud that rises on the highway is also orange, iron having run into the soil; in the dark of the year, when the sun setting at 5.30 rather than 6.30 p.m. is felt as a real abbreviation; in Michaelmas, and on dates movable according to the lunar calendar, we celebrate Deepavali in Trinidad.

Trinidad runs not one calendar but several concurrently. There is the ticker tape of desperate self-fashioning endorsed by the State, whereby slavery and indentureship are recalled to us in days literally red-­lettered on gas station calendars: Arrival, Emancipation. There is the Catholic liturgical calendar, in which people who swim in the sea on Good Friday risk being turned into fish, and gardeners plant out their plants on the lucky growing date, Corpus Christi. There is the Carnival season, launched at different times according to whether you are a maker, musician, masquerader, spectator, or hater, but always finishing as Ash Wednesday begins. There is 27 July, the anniversary of the 1990 Muslim fundamentalist insurrection, when the mood turns odd and nothing must happen. And so on, and so on: glitches in linear chronology; days and nights outrageous to po-faced multiculturalism as multiple-breasted ...


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