What news do we dread most as a people? Not the bad news on the economic situation and high unemployment rate, because our parents already experimented with the hard times of belt-tightening family budgets which we perforce took in our stride. As adolescents, we learnt to wade knee-deep in the waters of uncertainty through the dark tunnel, hoping that the sky would clear up at the end of it. What mattered then was keeping our dignity and holding our heads high as people who did not consider material welfare as being the beginning and end of all efforts.
A loyal companion stood by us in those times: hope. Exit economic disaster just as in plays – if ever life is a stage where everyone plays a part and mine…
So answer your own question as a teacher’s monologue in an indifferent and apathetic classroom which considers learning a foreign language, specially English in a French-speaking context, as a pain in the neck and utterly useless. Catch up with the next class which is more responsive though and tell them: As you can see, Emmeline Pankhurst was the first British woman who claimed suffrage for women and gender equality. So drop your French-inspired arrogance, Simone de Beauvoir and The Second Sex. Go back to the eighteenth century and discover Mary Wollestonecraft who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792, and her husband William Godwin, a radical political philosopher who wrote Political Justice.
And drawl on the British sense of compromise, (the ‘accorité’ in Mauritian Creole language), the futility of the savage Gallic beheading kings and queens. Human rights crusade, at least in European history, is English, not French. They had Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights, etc., and even Christopher Marlowe could hand out pamphlets on homosexuality in the streets of London without the fear of ending up on a funeral pyre in the 16th century. Just drive the message in the minds of self-absorbed people and their followers who live their masters’ history by proxy, and are more French than the French depending on the economic mood, the subsidies and various aids the French government pours in at the end of the month…
What we dread most is our people slipping backward on the slope of inhumanity. Our heart sinks when we hear that a 50-year old man was beaten to death in Trou d’Eau Douce about two weeks ago. A lynching episode which summons the vision of a young man who was lynched for trying to steal a car a year ago. Summer time is coming and possibly, a rise in crime. We hope our sociologists and police force have noticed that most crimes occur in the summer season. Wintertime is better for our nerves; no one complains about ‘fer fré’, and potential criminals shelve away grinders and knives. Will they take them out as adrenaline rises with the summer heat, the scorching sun, the strain on the family budgets, the end of the year festivals, high blood pressure, infidelity and so on? Sa saler la ! Or probably too much tea, excitement, sexual frustration and what not.
The other thing we dread most is losing our liberty through political megalomania, being reduced to powerless and speechless followers when pigs dress up in men’s wear as in the last episode of Animal Farm while the toiling proletariat looks on, bewildered and flabbergasted. National and international events preoccupy our mind with the meaning and genealogy of State. Authoritarian state, democratic state, and what not. In the light of current political affairs, we cannot help thinking like Nietzsche that a state was initially and basically repressive in character; it was meant to bend down stiff-necked and otherwise, free nomadic people to the will and regulations set up single-mindedly by a self-proclaimed small circle of chieftains. The retrograde tendency to slip back into the dark past of repressive statehood is rekindled with the advent of any dull megalomaniac who manages to hoist himself up to the highest position.
A press release mentioned the PM’s meeting with the French President in Paris. An incomplete information without the whys and what for. Taxpayers’ money, after all. Call it information if you wish. One question comes up: how do we become paranoid ? In the mode of classroom monologue answer: through deep distrust of those who wield power.
What we wish to see more is an investigative press which digs out and leaves no stones unturned to reveal whole stories of wild fellows who unduly overstayed their appointment in key posts with all the trappings of privilege and power, like the one whose ‘latet ine fatigué’ and resigned some time back. The public would appreciate such stories of parasites who should be exposed and pushed to the exit door of their luxurious offices.
Amid apprehensions of overbearing opaque political rule and fears of a rise in crime rate as summer comes closer, our hope lies in the fact that sensitive souls are fully aware that the sole pursuit of material gains desiccates the heart. No illusion on any super-wealthy local fellow parting with a chunk of his wealth for public welfare through donations of some sort. Yet very encouraging to see compatriots like Mr Hossein Edoo publishing stories in Urdu a few months ago, sculptors devoting their time to giving life and form to ideas, others devoting their free time to gardening beautifully, and many others musing on how to give sound and rhythm to thoughts and emotions.
* Published in print edition on 10 October 2014