When will the authorities here relieve TT Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul of the years of great pain he has surely suffered for the crime of establishing the legacy of a literary foundation on the world stage from his little home in St James, Port of Spain?
Since taking office from the Indian-based United National Congress (UNC) government led by Kamla Persad-Bissessesar six years ago, the Keith Rowley-led People’s National Movement (PNM) has focused on spending billions of the public patrimony to recreate and give new life to a number of buildings which represent the era of white colonial indentureship and slavery which many would prefer to forget.
While some critics suggest that he needs these extravagant projects to repay his Lebanese financiers for putting
him in office, others point to his neglect of the Grenadian bard Sparrow as merely another expression of the natural inferiority complex besetting the blackest Caribbean man who got the highest education but the lowest self-esteem deep inside, despite climbing to the highest peak of glory in his island-kingdom.
For how else can one explain the decay of Vidya whose characters still stalk St James and Woodbrook in the man writing “I miss you Marilyn” on the sidewalk and pavement-dwelling characters shouting from Nepaul Street where the House for Mr. Biswas still stands precariously?
Perhaps the silent Caribbean literary emeritus Ken Ramchand can tell us why.
Since he shut out Indian-Kamla from office, African- Doctor Rowley has shut out Indian Naipaul and Grenadian Sparrow from his program, dragging Mandela to occupy the minds of Port of Spain in King George V Park, preferring to over spend suspicious dollars on the Red House which tops the list of colonial buildings which reminds us of our shameful past.
It’s against this background that the House for Mr. Biswas stands as a solitary sorry reminder on the street of Vidya Naipaul’s father’s street as a haunting underground reminder of how vindictiveness and race can play a dominant role in this multi-racial colony.
After all, “Sweet TNT” is probably the only place in the world where a mixed-up boneless African Emancipation activist can call for the revocation of an Indian doctor because he was caught on tape whispering in dulcet tones into the warm bosom of his nine-year employed African assistant.
So much for “The Mimic men” as Vidya once accurately described us in one of his many books which made us famous but left us always bending the river in a not-so-free state.