Horizon at Sandy Point

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tobago love

Yuh bounce me...! The voice is loud and aggrieved.
Nah man, ah din't touch yuh!
What yuh bounce me for? Yuh know mih shoulder hutting mih.
No boy, buh if yuh want me to bounce yuh... And with that she jams her elbow into his ribs. There's a grunt of surprise, and he turns quickly to pinch her sharply on the fleshy back of an arm.
With that, she grabs the jug of cold water and pours it down his neck. Cool off nuh!
Is not me want to cool off! He rounds on her and puts ice cubes down the back of her dress.
It looks like there's a real risk of "fight fight!" breaking out. The uncomfortable observer wishes she could disappear, or could at least say the words that might de-escalate the heated blood and flared tempers.
With hot stares and last looks, two big people might pull apart and go their separate ways. But you can be sure there's some sulphur in the blood that's likely to ignite the next time they meet - good friends as they claim to be!

Or the conversation on the telephone.
You doh come in my house to make a mess yuh hear.
What, am I welcome or what?
I'll think about it.
Ok, tell me when I am invited. In the meantime ah booking my flight.

Hello, could I come home for a while? I need to chill out a bit...
Well, don't think it's going to be convenient. We are travelling./ We have visitors. / We have something else planned.

Or the vicious fight that does break out between brother and brother or brother and sister in which the most hateful words fly. Moron. Asshole. Whore. Should never have been born. I could kill you.

Funny isn't it, how some of the closest relationships have these apparently less than warm ways of expressing themselves. Is it that humans - as individuals - have the need to shape identity and separateness by being at times prickly and frequently unfriendly if not downright hostile?

As a child, I remember learning sarcasm. I loved the cleverness of the quick quip, the cutting remark. And would frequently say the meanest thing simply because it seemed to roll off the tongue so smoothly. I can still do it though I don't much anymore. I don't need to hurt anyone. If I do sometimes indulge in the clever retort, I try to make sure it is followed by the wry smile that says, you made me say it but you know I don't mean it. In my old age, I try very hard to add only good vibes. There's too much pain otherwise.

In Trinidad, we have a special term for this under the skin kind of endearment. Tobago love. It means we have the deep relationship where our love is understood, but what others often see is how we will fight nearly to kill... We'll make up - maybe. We'll probably not talk to each other for years and years. then out of the blue, we'll be getting on again like a house on fire. Except there is this undercurrent of past hurt always festering under the skin. But no one better come between us. Yuh hear?

They say sweetest love to sourest hate can turn. They say love and hate exist on opposite sides of the same coin. They say the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. Study that.


  1. It is all summed up, for me, in an incident I witnessed, years ago, when living in St. Ann's, Trinidad. It has stuck with me!

    We lived in a yard with another family which consisted of parents, two boy children, and a granny. One day I heard the granny, yell at her grandson in fury, as she collared him and dragged him toward the house.

    " Don't make me have to choke you!"

    There is a lesson here, I think!

  2. Cool reading abt these interesting quirks of T&T, thanks!