gall and gumption

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ledes I Wish I Had Written

As the gospel song says, "You Ought to Been There."

No, truly, if it had been given to me to cover this incident, and to write a lede like that, I would have felt completely fulfilled as a journalist.

All hell broke loose at a Trinidadian church in the sugar cane village of Basta Hall, Couva, when a man, angered by the racket of worshipping parishioners, stoned a pastor in the pulpit.

Naturally with such an opening the reader has a right to expect that the story will deliver.

Pastor Narad Rajoo said he ducked, but two of his congregants, a blind man and his wife, were reportedly hurt in the fracas that followed last Sunday's Service.

The man who came fuming into the church was Selwyn Sookdeo, a heavy-equipment operator who lives next door to the Temple Worship Church in central Trinidad.

Sookdeo said on Wednesday all he wanted was peace and quiet. He argued that the noise emanating from the church's loudspeakers was unbearable, as he awoke to the screeching of the band playing out of tune.

Sookdeo said he threw a rock when he was called the Devil. "I am a son of God, not no Devil," he said.

But Pastor Rajoo denied calling Sookdeo the Devil.

"I told him, 'I rebuke you in the name of the Lord'," Rajoo said he told Sookdeo when he came to complain.

Sookdeo said: "I got up that morning to the noise. I try pushing the pillow in my ears. I couldn't take it no more. I went to the church.

The Devil coming

"As soon as the pastor saw me, he said, 'Look, the Devil coming. Everybody start with the Devil talk. I really pelt the stone. But not at anybody."

Sookdeo said he left the church, but two men claiming to be police officers beat him and tried to push him into a car. He refused to go and ran away.

I don't know what you think but the preacher ducking the stone and the blind man taking it is the sort of low comedy touch that could never be allowed in a work of fiction.

I met a longtime White House correspondent at a party here several months ago. He seemed to take the attitude that I was looking for a job like his. I can't think of anything more boring, frankly, in journalism. Or nauseating at this current juncture. Well, let me put the word out here among all twelve of my small but select audience. This is the sort of thing I want to write. It doesn't have to be in the Caribbean, though I admit, they (we) talk funnier there.

By the way the reason all the names in this story sound so odd is that this is a community of East Indians, descendants of the laborers the British brought to Trinidad and Guyana to cut cane in the late 19th century. This particular group has converted to Christianity but not everyone did. (I saw Guyanese people holding a Hindu service in Nevis, it was lovely and unexpected, they were sitting on the ground under a tarp in an empty lot, singing this wonderful music. And I just saw them that one time.)

The best source of reading about the world of these Indian West Indians is in the early novels of V. S. Naipaul, before he went sour. Read The Suffrage of Elvira, Miguel Street, or the still ranking greatest head and shoulders above the rest Caribbean novel, A House for Mr. Biswas. If you are really taken with them you could also even read The Mystic Masseur, though the sourness is beginning to be evident.


Post a Comment

<< Home