By Cirque de Westcott standards it has been a quiet week. No visits from the police or Mormons; some Bajan Amish-like characters came to the house today but that doesn’t count, does it? (For readers wondering about the Mormon reference – Don’t. Even. I still have nightmares). Boy Wonder hasn’t acquired any additional tattoos (yet), Mini Me celebrated a birthday, and Hobson’s OK). I should point out that I am writing this after 2 1/2 glasses of Pinot Grigio. Probably not a good idea, but let’s press on.
Mini Me ushered in another year of life. Luckily this is only the filler year between sixteen and eighteen so I didn’t have to take out a mortgage to pay for a birthday party. For the money I spent on last year’s shindig I should have acquired a son-in-law at least.
I was supposed to be on my way to Ghana instead of sitting in my living room but at the 99th hour, the Client bailed. They weren’t ready and thought it best to postpone the trip. So instead of sleeping in Frankfurt airport tomorrow, I will be attending a paternal family memorial in Tobago. What joy!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. But…
Three weekends ago I went to a maternal family memorial in Barbados. Reconnected with family I hadn’t seen since Moses was a boy and it was wonderful. Sitting poolside at the Hilton sipping a pina colada found myself pondering the question which has plagued me my whole life – what nationality am I?
Whenever people ask me where I’m from I have to take a beat. The truth is I don’t know. I think of myself as a British West Indian but not many people can relate to that.
Born in England to Tobagonian father, Bajan mother. Grew up in Trinidad ( a year in England and a year in Antigua as a toddler don’t count). Adult years spent in England, Mozambique and Trinidad, in that order. Confused? You bet I am. And did I mention that I’m an only child?
I like to think that I have a little bit of England, Trinidad and Barbados in me in unequal portions. The Brit in me loves order and Systems That Work. This person also loves Coronation St, Sainsbury’s, Christmas pudding and Daniel Craig. The Bajan in me loves Sandy Lane, pristine postcard beaches and service with a smile, not a scowl (A Certain Coffee Chain in T&T – I’m talking about you).
The Trini in me loves Carnival, getting on wassee and the cultural melting pot I call home. Does this make me schizophrenic? Maybe so. I laughed when a Bajan relative complained about pedestrians darting across traffic in Bridgetown. In Trinidad, pedestrians stroll across the road – on their cellphones – and dare you to bounce them.
So where does this leave Tobago? I struggle to place myself there.Being able to demolish a plate of crab and dumplings may not be enough proof that Tobago resides within me. Perhaps this weekend I’ll find out. The shared gene pool will gather and if we manage to get through the event without a Major Incident (unlikely) we may come to a common understanding (even more improbable). And who knows – I may finally recognise myself in my Tobago heritage.
I live in hope.