Monday, March 24, 2014

You never really know someone, ever

I'm always amazed when I find out something new about a person I know. Like when I hear my dad re-tell stories of his youth, I'm in awe most of the time, other times I'm laughing or crying, or both. When I hear what my mom's childhood was like, when I hear tales of my ancestry.

It makes me feel that I have so much more to learn about the people whom are dear to me, that I will never truly know enough about them.

I feel that way about everyone, and yet I never ask them enough questions, I just assume the minor details about them and their history and how it all fits in with my life.

Friday in Vermont, I was reminded of just how naive that assumption can be. The band was in Vermont to play a gig, and our drummer Rob - who has been with us from the start - the true heartbeat of this band, started to play the piano in our green room.

Usually I fumble through the opening notes of 'Head over Heels' but not Rob, he played various classical pieces, extensive, complex works. He took piano lessons for ten years, never sat any exams though. But his technique was very solid. I sat there in utter amazement, along with our bassist - Don, we were both speechless.

And then we went and played our set, and Rob became our drummer again, holding it down onstage.

But for thirty minutes before that, he was a pianist and we, for a change were his audience.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Suddenly you were gone

An old school-mate of mine was murdered almost four weeks ago.

Murdered.

He didn't die in a car crash, not by a heart attack, not taken early by disease. He was brutally murdered.

We were good friends for about two years in high-school and then we lost touch after graduation. That's part of life I guess, people drift apart and move on. We all assume rather naively that we'll stay in touch, and that we'll always be involved in each others' lives throughout the years.

He ran his own company - an anti-theft car retrieval service. He wanted to do something positive to fight crime in Trinidad. He was going to be the change that he wanted in his world. His name was Rawle Francis.

Rawle paid for that 'change' with his life.

Crime here is out of control and the most that the authorities can say is 'new initiatives are being worked on the combat crime'. Sounds reassuring doesn't it? Whatever initiatives that are being deployed certainly are not working. As of March 2nd, the murder rate for Trinidad stands at 91 for 2014, in a small country of some 1.2 million people. I'm pretty sure that's higher than the murder rate of all of Canada - a country of 30 million.

Rawle leaves to mourn a wife and three kids. The details of his murder are sketchy. To date no leads have been made in his case.

I wonder if his murderer felt any compassion at all, any remorse after reading the obituary. I wonder how could someone be so cruel, so wicked, so heartless.

At Rawle's funeral, there was a fair number of old Fatima boys - his classmates. His family look devastated. Who wouldn't be?

All the old boys greeted each other and stayed back to talk about what had happened and life in general. Some of us went for a drink in Rawle's honour. Some guys I had not seen since 1990 when I graduated.

I don't know if Rawle's killer will ever be brought to justice because of our terrible excuse for law enforcement and legal system here.

This country needs a lot of prayers and a concrete plan to combat crime on many levels, to deal with the root causes - trouble in the home, the breakdown in family life, unemployment, training and education programs for unskilled youths at risk, and initiatives to help those living below the poverty line find a better means of earning a living. Not just an increase in police vehicles. That's just dealing with the symptom and not the problem.

And yet, no government seems to have the common sense to understand our crime situation. They've all just dealt with the problem when it occurs. Like a reactive, clueless idiot they behave and hope that the country will be happy with their 'solution'

God help us all, because the government doesn't know how to save this country.

Rawle, rest in peace my brother. May your death not be in vain and may your killer be brought to swift justice.