A Carnival Story. (Part 2).

A Carnival Story. (Part 2).

Kepper arrived back at Wappie’s house, staggering in disbelief, yet clutching the evidence of his strange encounter in his hand; the scarlet feather.
Wappie had not returned home and the sun was ending its watch over Pinto Capitan. Lights went on in several houses in the village, but Wappie’s and Kepper’s little wooden house remained unlit and soon became part of the deep darkness which always descended upon the community at nights.
Kepper, after securing the feather, the newspaper pages, the wire and scissors, climbed into Wappie’s hammock and fell asleep waiting on him to return.
He dreamed about his scarlet red feather. It was part of a costume he was wearing, while dancing along the streets of downtown Port of Spain, with thousands of other revelling children. Their mas costumes were resplendent in the warm sunshine and the pulsating, addictive soca music moved their feet, their hands, their mouths and their spirit.
Hundreds of spectators who had lined the streets, waving bandanas and rags, screamed and shouted at him when they saw his feather, as he jumped and pranced in front of them.
Wappie came home to find Kepper smiling clumsily in his sleep in the hammock. As he walked upstairs, he spotted the small pile of mas face making implements on the table, and wondered where the boy had found such a beautiful red feather.

Dawn soon came and Kepper was awoken by the sounds of many voices around him.
When he opened his eyes, he saw Wappie standing by the table, with six other children from the village with him.
“Morning, fadda, go wash yuh face before yuh come here.” Wappie said to him when he approached the group.
The other children laughed at him.
“Wuh allyuh doing here?” Kepper enquired of Nai, the eldest in the bunch.
“Uncle Wappie asked we mudda if we wanted to come make mas face and have a lil jump up by he today.” she replied. “We always wanted to take part in Carnival too, but we never had the chance.”
Excitement welled up inside Kepper’s heart. He couldn’t imagine anything better. Well, his dream was better, but in reality, it was the best that could be done.
He hurriedly washed his face and rinsed his mouth with water from a barrel under Wappie’s house.
The man had made breakfast for him also. As he stuffed down his bake and cheese, he watched as Wappie cut pieces of wire which would be used to make the frames for the mas faces.
Nai and her sisters, Melissa and Ruby, had brought make up and hair accessories to complete their costumes, David, Ryan and Juman came with bed sheets, as well as bottles, pots and pans to make a Carnival raucous.
When Wappie was finished cutting the wire, he distributed the newspaper pages for the children to cut and make the masks. They cut the paper into large egg shapes which covered their faces and then cut large holes for eyes and mouths. They then reinforced the paper with the wire pieces and glue. Wappie also gave them string to tie the masks around their heads, when they put it on their faces.
After fitting the masks, they were ready to decorate them. When Kepper brought out his scarlet red feather, the other children were in amazement.
This prompted Wappie to ask him the question which was on his mind all night.
“Where you get the nice feather from fadda? I thought you were going to take one from yuh fadder fowl. Dat doh look like no rooster feather to me.”
Kepper was not sure how to answer. “I found it in the bush behind the house.” He told Wappie.
“Well dat is the strangest bird feather I ever seen around in this bush.” Wappie replied. The other children agreed.
Kepper was unsure if he should tell them about his encounter with the strange old man, but he really needed to share his tale with someone.
“I was looking for my fadder rooster, when I heard a whistle. I followed the whistle and I found an old man in the bush. He had this red feather in his hand, along with others. He told me I could have any one I wanted, so I chose this one. He said it was a Scarlet Ibis feather and he found it in some swamp, whatever that is. Then he disappeared.”
Everyone listening to his story was left silent. Wappie scratched his head and held up the feather. “From a Scarlet Ibis?”
“The Scarlet Ibis is the national bird of Trinidad and Tobago.” said Nai.
The other children nodded in agreement.
“The old man said the feather is special.” Kepper said. “I not sure what that means though.”
He took the feather and stuck it onto his mas face. The other children, who were also finished with their mas faces were ready to put them on.
Wappie ran upstairs and brought down a small radio, which he plugged on and turned the dial to one of the popular soca stations. The children then put on their masks, brimming with excitement. When Kepper put on his mask, something truly miraculous happened.

There was a bright flash of light, and he suddenly found himself wearing a costume designed to look like a Scarlet Ibis. He had bright red plumage all over his body and a slender long black beak. He flapped his arms like wings and the feathers opened out in a great span. He looked around at the other children. They too were dressed in complete Carnival costumes, designed after various animals found on the islands.
Nai’s costume looked like an emerald green Hummingbird. Melissa and Ruby were dressed as yellow and back Kiskadees. David’s costume was that of a neon green Iguana with a long swishing tail and long claws. Ryan’s costume was that of a large golden fish with a huge tail and bright blue eyes, while Juman’s costume was made out of a black, brown and striped furry material, making her look like an ocelot.
Wappie stood holding his head in amazement, as the children were transformed into Kings and Queens of Carnival in their perfected costumes. He had no explanation for the sight before his eyes, as they jumped and pranced to the infectious soca music being played on the radio.
Kepper was in all his glee at the occurence. The children ran after each other, laughing and parading in their costumes. The thought briefly crossed Kepper’s mind that the scarlet red feather had anything to do with what had happened to them, but he was too filled with joy to care. The commotion brought the other villagers out to see what the children were doing and they too were lost for words over the unfolding spectacle.
They joined them in the revelry. Young and old came out on that Carnival Saturday morning to enjoy the mood and atmosphere. Carnival had come to Pinto Capitan. The children could not get enough of their happiness. Other children also joined them in their home made costumes and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves all weekend long.

When Carnival Tuesday night arrived, the children begrudgingly took off their costumes and went home. They would be heading back to school on Wednesday morning. What a story they would have to tell to the other children in the school!
Kepper walked back to his litte shack alone that night. His father had still not returned home, but he didn’t care. He had gotten his wish and more than he had hoped for. He carefully plucked the scarlet feather out of his mas face and placed it inside a book for safekeeping. He then took a bath and went to bed, where he dreamed he and the other children were playing in their costumes in the forest, while the strange old man looked on laughing and smiling at their contentment.

The next day at school, Kepper laughed the most in his life. The Goodman boys who had returned home late on Tuesday night, did not have great tales of their Carnival experience to share with their friends. Their aunt Betsy, had served potato salad to her visiting family members on Friday night and everyone fell ill with food poisoning. They spent the entire Carnival weekend in bed, watching the Greatest Show on Earth on the television, while the real action passed along the road right in front their aunt’s house.

The End.


A Carnival Story. (Part 1)

A Carnival Story. (Part 1)

Kepper said goodbye to the boys as he approached the track which led to his house in the small village of Pinto Capitan. They paid little attention to him. They were too excited about the great plans they had boasted about in school all week.  Devon and Kyle, twin brothers, and Sean, their cousin, were going with their parents to see mas in Port of Spain on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. They marched up and down the school that week, talking about their aunt who would be running a food stall around the Queen’s Park Savannah and fabulous claims that they would be staying in her house, which is situated along a street in the capital city, where they could see all the masqueraders parade and jump and dance to their hearts’ content. They showed off their dance moves to their classmates, just to add more drama to their story. Kepper rolled his eyes for what seemed like a million times that week at them. The Goodman boys were lucky he thought, but their luck didn’t mean they had to turn into gleeful, show-offy, big-shots.
Keeper had only been to Port of Spain once in his life and it was during a time he would rather not remember. He had never seen a real life Carnival masquerader. The children in his class who were not as fortunate to see the two days of revelry, costumes, colours and action up close and personal, took it in on their television sets. Unfortunately, Kepper didn’t have a TV at his home.
Even as he approached his little wooden house at the end of the track, he could hear the Goodman boys’ boisterous laughter. He sighed heavily. If only he could see the mas. If only he could dress up in a Carnival costume and play mas and chip and dance to his favourte Soca tune. If only.

When Kepper pushed the door to this house open, he instinctively knew his father was not at home. He would probably not be home until later that night, Kepper thought to himself. It was nothing unusual for the 10-year-old to be left alone by his father who spent his days trying to find work to make money and then spent his nights spending it on alcohol. Kepper dropped his book bag on the floor and walked back out the door. It made no sense to stay alone in the house by himself.
He walked over to Wappie, his neighbour’s house, where he found the man under his house lying in his hammock, reading a newspaper.
On the front page, there was the bold headline ‘Fantastic Friday Fiesta’, with pictures of crowds of people at various Carnival fetes and parties. Kepper sighed louder to get Wappie’s attention, as he sat on some bricks stacked on top one another.
“Wuh happen fadda?” asked Wappie, folding the paper and resting it on the ground. Kepper shook his head.
“You ever play mas Wappie?” the boy asked.
“Yeh, a long time ago. That’s when I used to live close to town. Boy, all now, Fantastic Friday evening, you cyah find meh. I in some bar or liming by a pardner or something.” he replied. “Then J’ouvert morning we feteing and in a band Carnival Monday and Tuesday all over town. Those were some bess days.”
Kepper was now angry with himself for asking Wappie anything in the first place. He had hoped his response was also as depressing as his current situation.
“Everybody know about mas and Carnival and I dunno nothing.” Kepper said.
“Well that’s cuz yuh young still.” Wappie said.
“Buh, Devon, Kyle and Sean young too and dey going town this weekend for Carnival!” he exclaimed.
“Lawd, dey going to stay with dey aunt Betsy ent? Boy, I dunno how she does manage to make money for Carnival nah, she food does taste bad. I buy food by she one time just out of courtesy. Not me again.”
Kepper burst out laughing when he saw the look of scorn and distaste on Wappie’s reminscing face.
“Boy, not everyone privileged to see mas til they get older. But, that don’t mean you cya enjoy yourself at home.” Wappie told the boy.
“How yuh mean? I doh have no TV to see mas on.” Kepper said.
“Fada, I doh mean TV. I mean, make yuh own mas and play yuh own Carnival.” Wappie said with a smile.
“Make meh own mas?” Kepper asked with interest.
“Yeh. Wuh de hell dey teaching allyuh in school? You mean allyuh doh make mas face and put on and have jump up in school!?” Wappie exclaimed in disbelief.
“Well no. De principal say dem ting is devil ting, so she doh let we do anything like dat.” Kepper replied sadly.
“Daz sad. Anyways, we could make a mas face for you. D ting is, I doh have any cardboard or paper to make it with.” said Wappie. “I have a scissors, some wire and I bound to have some glue in a draw somewhere.”
“We cya use the newspaper?” asked Kepper, looking down at all the colourful pictures on the daily.
“Yuh know, that could work. But we go hada use plenty layers or it will be flimsy.” said Wappie as he opened the papers and pulled out all the pages with the most colourful pictures and fonts.
He got up from the hammock and went into a small room. He brought out a small folding plastic table and opened it out in front of Kepper. He then went upstairs to find the scissors, wire and glue.
As Kepper arranged the newspaper pages, he looked closely at the pictures of some of the Carnival costumes. Most of them, even the ones worn by men, had feathers in them. Wappie had not spoken about feathers and he wondered if they could be used. When Wappie came back downstairs with the scissors and an old tube of glue, Kepper asked him if he could put feathers in the mas face?
“Yeh, it would look even prettier with the feathers.” said Wappie as he struggled to take the cap off the glue tube.
“I feel this glue geh hard. Wey yuh go get feathers?” he asked Kepper.
“I’ll go pull a few off meh fadder rooster.” he said smiling.
“Bunty go skin yuh alive if you interfere with he chicken.” Wappie said, still struggling with the glue cap.
“Is ok. He ent go even realise.” said Kepper.
“OK.” replied Wappie. “I going by d shop to see if they have glue. Doh stay long getting the feather. It getting dark already. Remember, yuh doh really need it.”

Kepper walked back to his house, as Wappie threw on a jersey and set off for the nearby shop.
When the boy walked around to the back of the house to the chicken coop, where his father Bunty, enslaved a few scrawny chickens, he did not see the rooster.
He fetched a small bucket of corn seeds from under the house and threw the contents into the coop. The chickens scampered over each other to pick at the measly grains.
Kepper sighed at the sight and was about to walk back to Wappie’s when he heard a strange whistle. It came from inside the overgrown forested area, which bordered the village of Pinto Capitan and which served as the backyard of his house.
Kepper, familiar with the forested area around his house, followed the sound of the whistle, which was high, clear and sweet. It was cheerful to his ear and he imagined what great bird made the strange call. It was unlike anything he had ever heard before from the various species of bird he had seen in the forest.
As he made his way cautiously through the trees, being very careful of where he stepped, he spotted a figure walking ahead of him. He stopped dead in his tracks. His fear of the jumbies of the forest suddenly gripped him. The figure turned and faced him. It was an old bearded man, cloaked in a tattered and torn piece of cloth. He carried a bag over his left shoulder and in his right hand were a multitude of feathers, of varying shapes, lengths and colours. Kepper became especially spell-bound by one particularly long, scarlet red feather. It was similar to the ones he had seen in the newspaper pictures, but this one was radiant and perfect.
A million things ran through Kepper’s mind. Chief among them was ‘why was he the only thing not running?’ The old man walked toward him. Just then, they both heard the whistle. The old man looked up at the trees and his eyes searched this way and that for the bird which made the call. He then whistled to it. The bird whistled back.
Kepper looked on in amazement as the man and the unseen bird communicated with each other. The next thing he heard, was the rustle of leaves and a flutter of wings and a beautiful brown bird flew down from the trees and landed on the old man’s shoulder.
Kepper was as dumbstruck as the times his teacher called upon him to recite his multiplication tables. The man greeted the bird in a soft whistle, then turned back his attention to Kepper.
“Do you like the feathers?” he asked in a slow, raspy, yet kind voice.
Kepper nodded. He could find no words. They had ran off with the other things in his mind.
“Well, why don’t you take the one you like the most.” the man offered, extending his arm with the feathers.
Kepper hesistated, but he knew he wanted the scarlet red feather. It would defintely make his mas face look genuinely real. He really wanted to experience a little part of Carnival and be joyful like the people in the pictures he saw.
Never, taking his eyes of the man, he reached out and gently pulled the feather out of the man’s grasp.
“Ahh, a nice selection. A feather from the Scarlet Ibis. Very special. Very beautiful.” said the man with a smile and a nod. “I found it in the mangrove swamp this morning, as the birds left for their feeding grounds.”
Kepper had no idea what a mangrove swamp was. He too was capitvated by the radiance of the feather, but managed to say ‘Thank You’ to the stranger.
The bird on the man’s shoulder started whistling again, drawing Kepper out of his stupor. The man whistled softly to it and it flew up into the trees.
Kepper looked at it flying away high above the leaves and branches until it disappeared. When he looked back down, the old man was gone. There was no sign of him.

To be continued…


How To Enjoy Your Carnival Weekend If You Don’t Like Mas. (1 Minute Read).

How To Enjoy Your Carnival Weekend If You Don’t Like Mas. (1 Minute Read).

There are a number of Carnival weekend activities you can entertain yourelf and your family with, if you do not enjoy the bacchanalian celebrations erupting all over the country.
These alternative activities are annual pieces of evidence which show that not all Trinbagonians are interested in the mas culture and some people seem to be content keeping Carnival at arm’s length for the entire weekend.
If you are one of these people and outdoor activities are very appealing, then try any, some or all of the following:

  1. A trip to the beach or river.
  2. Camping or picnicing with family members and friends.
  3. A private Sports and Family day.
  4. Fishing on land or at sea.
  5. A trip down the islands.
  6. Church or youth camps.
  7. Taking a trip out of the country.
  8. Start a Do It Yourself home project or some repairs.
  9. Hiking, biking and nature trail walks.
  10. An outdoor/backyard BBQ or cookout lime.

It is important to note that if you are going to be out of the country, camping or on hikes, to inform immediate family members or the Police prior to your departure. This will ensure that someone is aware of your location and can find you in case of an emergency.
If you are out with your family or even on your own private property, be wary of strangers lurking around or acting suspiciously. Contact the police immediately.
Furthermore, keep an eye out for everyone in your group not only young children. Even adults can get themselves into difficult or dangerous situations. Do not consume too much alcohol, so that you lose complete control of your faculties and are unable to act responsibly around others who may be depending on you.

Leaving Your Dream Job For Your Dream Salary. (End Of A Series). (1 Minute Read).

Leaving Your Dream Job For Your Dream Salary. (End Of A Series). (1 Minute Read).

When Adrian left his office for the last time that fateful afternoon, he reassured himself that he could deal with whatever came next in the uncharted days which lay ahead. But what about his colleagues who were also being forced from their jobs? Even though they were diplomatic and put on strong faces over the merger of the company with another, Adrian knew deep down they were unsettled. Were they silently reassuring themselves as well? Working in radio was once a dream for Adrian. Persevering and becoming a broadcast journalist was a dream come through. He had accomplished much in the eight years he walked that career path and now, as the head of the news department he was bringing his experience to bear on the job at hand. He shared a vision with the radio station’s management and like most of the other people in the company, he had its best interest at heart. Such was the daily mentality of those loyal to the vision.

The power and influence of the other company steamrolled their attempts to stave off the merger. The biggest betrayal came from their own boss who gave up his managerial powers for a fat cheque at the end of the month. The merger made Adrian and others redundant under a new arrangement. The job he had worked hard to procure, secure further, had been wrenched away from him by two men who had over stayed their time in the industry.

Adrian saw an opportunity in his situation though; to aim for a new dream. A dream salary. A better salary which fits his qualifications and experience.

Sometimes our dreaming changes course into exciting and unexplored areas and while we may be initially disturbed by the occurrence, we must be mature enough to find the silver linings in everything that comes our way.  Like Adrian, we do not have to stop dreaming if things do not work out with one dream. Always remember big dreamers see the biggest opportunities in life. The more you dare yourself to be and experience the more you will be able to explore this world. 

How To Keep Your Dream Job. (A Series).(1 Minute Read ).

How To Keep Your Dream Job. (A Series).(1 Minute Read ).

Keeping a dream job is just as hard as getting one or perhaps even harder. This is because they are demanding and require lots of time and energy to excel at. Nevertheless, in the pursuit of your passion, sacrifices are expected.

Let me rephrase that: Sacrifices are mandatory. Personal sacrifices such as time, family, relationships, a social life and hobbies are no small matter. These sacrifices are the compromises you make with yourself now, with the promise and expectation of a better tomorrow. They are not to be made lightly either. Each sacrifice must bring quantifiable rewards, otherwise you will be snipping away at yourself needlessly, until you realise there is nothing more for you to give. When this happens with a job, it is probably a good time to move on to something else. Never put your job ahead of your health or your principles. 

Many people become comfortable and complacent in their jobs after some time. Complacency is the nemesis of progress and will negatively impact your ability to perform. Once again your passion has to swoop in to your rescue, along with some sensibility. Remember every job rates performance to make decisions on promotions and salary changes. It is therefore important to always stay at the top of the game. Consider updating your qualifications or suggest reforms within your organization to ensure all the moving parts are functioning efficiently.

Finally, as your passion drives you, consider your options for upward mobility. Your bosses may be thinking about it for you but you must always seek to be promoted. Your dream job is an experience building opportunity, so grab at every one which comes your way through ethical and moral means. There is no need to lose your integrity and respect in the pursuit of betterment.

Have a productive day and positive attitude work everyone.  

How To Get Your Dream Job. (A Series). (1 Minute Read).

How To Get Your Dream Job. (A Series). (1 Minute Read).

It starts innocently enough. First as pretend games, you talk to your family and everyone you meet about it, then as you grow older it becomes a genuine interest and finally you set off on a path to make your childhood imagination a reality. The path is easier for some than it is for others. Sometimes you get to your destination really quickly and at other times you find yourself stuck for many years in a place you never wanted to be, doing things you never wanted to do. But, despite your disappointment with how things turned out, you never take your eyes off the prize; your dream job.

Most dream jobs are perceived to be glamorous in nature. While the perks and view are indeed better than other careers, landing a dream job is difficult especially if many other people have the same dream. No one will doubt your heart is fixed on getting the position, but you must be prepared. 

Here are some tips for ‘Getting Your Dream Job’.

Your academic qualifications and experience will be very important factors for getting the job. The job market is very competitive right now, so you should ensure you are holding all the right Masters, Degrees and portfolio. Apart from academics, possessing a little common sense can go a long way.

Being well networked and connected will help you meet the right people who can be beneficial to your dream job. Some jobs require you to draw upon outside resources and assets at a moment’s notice. Having such people on speed dial can be the difference between success and failure. Try to network in the right places and not necessarily at the nearest watering hole. Seek out seminars, workshops and conferences which are directly connected to your dream job.

Be assertive and opportunistic. Your dream job is like a ripe fruit on a tree just out of your reach. All it takes is a bold move to jump up and grab it while everyone else is holding you down. At every opportunity put yourself in positions and situations to be exposed to information and chances to get into your dream career. For example, there is a budding heart doctor reading this who is still some years away from reaching his ultimate goal, but makes the sacrifice every year to attend a heart conference in another country to keep himself updated on the latest research and technology in the field. 

Everyone has what it takes to turn their dreams into their jobs. And, even then you will not consider it a job, but a passion.

Where Are Your Roots? Look Up, Not Down. (1 Minute Read).

Where Are Your Roots? Look Up, Not Down. (1 Minute Read).

Sometimes, it’s good for your soul to feel small and insignificant, before you understand and truly appreciate the vast magnitude and grandeur of the Universe you are a part of. Humans have only been on the planet for mere milliseconds on the cosmic calendar, yet within that time frame, our ancestors grasped to some extent the enormity of all they were living in. And to find the answers to their questions, they did not look to the ground, rather, they turned their innocent gaze upwards at the night sky. And, there under a dark night sky, they forged our first and still strong connection and fascination with the stars. 

We live in a world of artificial light and seem to have no more need for the natural light of the moon or the stars. This was not the case for our ancestors. While the sunlight during the day was important for minor things such as the development of civilizations, agriculture and conquests, the star light at night made all these things possible. Ancient stargazers used the tiny flickering lights to track the seasons for planting and reaping crops, chart maps for explorations and navigation, base cultural and religious beliefs and raise questions about our origins, our purpose and if we are truly alone in the Universe. The sky was where the Gods lived and the constellations were legendary stories written by their hands. Thus, we owe much of our beginnings here on Earth, to what was taking place high above our heads. And, even deeper into our cosmic history, we find evidence that the very elements that make up our bodies and allow us to live today, came from the death of ancient stars. We are truly made of star stuff.

The light show here on the ground is in no way comparable to the one in the night sky. It will be good to lose yourself in some stargazing and imagine yourself sitting around a fire in the darkness like our ancestors did, wondering about and questioning our purpose. You do not need a telescope to see our Moon, the constellations or the Milky Way Galaxy in all their splendor. Just go outside on a clear night, in a spot away from artificial lights and look up. That’s all we need to do sometimes. Just look up, feel small and make that ancient connection once again.