Home for Carnival
By Malaika Crichlow
As I flew home to rekindle the love-hate affair I have with my homeland, the beautiful twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago, I was excited, but I also felt some trepidation towards what the trip would hold. Which family member or close family friend would say something to spoil the whole trip? You know the usual scenario when people have no cover for their mouth. But then I said to myself, why are you giving people the power to do that? You have worked so hard to love yourself and to get past the opinions of others. Why is that the first mental space you go back to? Why are you always expecting the negative? It seemed to me that although I had made progress within myself, old habits are hard to die, and we revert back to what we know and what is comfortable. But this trip I made the promise to myself that I would make this Carnival mine meaning I would have fun my way and not in the way that the other people said was the way to have fun. I was going to go to the parties I wanted to go to not parties that were the “in” thing to attend. I wasn’t going to conform to any rules regarding my costume such as whether to wear boots or sneakers or go to get my makeup done professionally (although I don’t think negatively of those who do conform because if that’s how they have fun then that’s great), but I tried that before and didn’t have fun that way. This time, I wanted to focus and listen to myself and decide what made me happy. It was kind of another journey about self discovery one could say. So, suffice it to say, I made a conscious effort once I recognized my negative thinking to think positively instead and observe if this would manifest a positive outcome and it did.
I had one of the best trips home I ever had. As the plane landed on home soil, I had already made an English friend with links for Nottingham Carnival. While I partied at a cooler fete later that night, with a good friend from my youth and his girlfriend, my eyes feasted on the magnificent male specimens Trinidad held. How could I have forgotten how beautiful my people were in all manner of shades and ethnicity? I enjoyed the extra care given to ensure I attended certain events. The friendly cashier at Peake’s gas station, the family who made time to see me, and drove through the insane traffic just to pick me up so we could laugh and eat together were all highlights of the trip. I felt so loved and appreciated I was buzzing with happiness.
One of the memories that remained vivid in my mind involved liming at a house way up in the St. Ann’s Hills with a breathtaking view of Port-of-Spain and just enjoying a relaxed conversion on the commercialization of carnival among other things while making tweaks to my costume. While our band rested carnival Monday, there were the good laughs and stories my sister and I had with two middle-aged men around the savannah, their ole talk and jokes about the obviously drunk coconut vendor who was their friend and the many colorful characters that passed us as we sat enjoying the savannah breeze and sights.
It’s the little things that made this trip special such as my aunt driving around with me looking for coconut ice cream. Or taking the time to take us to Mayaro for a home cooked meal of curry crab and dumplings made by the loving hands of other aunties. My little cousins staying home from school Ash Wednesday to see us and taking us to the beach, where we looked at the majestic Mayaro waves pounding the surf at high tide. The frozen callaloo prepared just for me to carry back to Miami. Seeing baby cousins now bigger than me and seeing big cousins who have loved me since I was a baby.
I didn’t have anyone say not one awful or snide comment. At all the events and in the band, everyone was enjoying themselves with a fervor of togetherness and unity that I hadn’t seen in a long time. With the exception of the photographers who still seemed focused on one type of beauty instead of the wide variety at their disposal, I was really impressed with the band I played with Fantasy. My costume was well made and is still intact; the organization was good and there were great vibes. The food was acceptable and edible, but more important than the band was crossing the stage with my sister for the first time in years. That was worth the wait. Seeing long time friends from school and chippin down the road while sharing champagne with some of the patrons of the band was the sweetest ting. This trip home, to me, represented freedom. Freedom to be myself and I saw this theme expressed by many throughout my trip. I saw this freedom, this total feeling of abandon, in the tall Indo-Trinidadian man waving the British Flag with such vigor, as if to let us know he is our cultural ambassador in Britain.
This trip was full of love, family and great friends, but it also taught me the power of my mind over the outcome of my experiences. A lesson well learned and appreciated.
Malaika Crichlow10 Posts
Malaika Crichlow is a daughter of the twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago. She resides in Miami, Florida and has been for the past 19 years. She is an aspiring author who hopes to publish children’s books, novels on Caribbean life, and books of poetry. Writing has always been a passion and sometimes a distant dream, but always brings her unparalleled joy. When she is not writing, she is a mother, a nurse, a student, and a lover of life and laughter.