edge

No News is Good News

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay
Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay
My name is Annette Sirju and this month makes it four years since I’ve read a newspaper or listened to the radio or television news.

People sometimes show they are surprised when they hear my surname and then see me. But, you know, we live in a calaloo culture: everything is mixed up.

I was born in Dinsley Village. I went to Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary. I was in the first class taken in to Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive. I live in Diego Martin now.

The day I met my husband, he told me his first name was Parasuram. I was, like, “Para-rara-rara-rara-what?” So my family and all my friends and I call him, “Sirj”. My husband takes humour in all these things.

Sirj and me are like chalk and cheese. I am more outgoing, he is a bit introverted. But we get along just fine. We are different personalities but with a very good fit.

For a long time, I used to hike a lot. I took up a hike in Tobago. I had to hustle to get to the boat on the docks after work and [the hiking group] saved a seat for me. I was the last person to board and it was a large group, almost 20 people. When I sat, I saw this man reading a book. He looked up to see who they were saving the seat for and then he put his nose back down in the book. The A/C was right above me and I asked him if he would switch seats with me. I asked him if I could borrow his Readers’ Digest. He nodded. Silence throughout.

When we got to Tobago, by the time I’d unpacked and showered, everyone else but him had left for dinner. So we walked out the road together. But we couldn’t find the rest of the group so we sat in the guest house lobby and chatted for hours. You’d swear we knew one another for a long time. After the four days there, we exchanged numbers.

My first husband is East Indian as well. People always tell me I have “a type” and that might be so – but I know they’re attracted to me! So my 28-year-old daughter, Chantal, does Indian dance. It was Divali time and, on the boat back to Trinidad, I told Sirj Chantal had a show coming up. He agreed to go and I picked him up and he came. Then he invited me to a show at NAPA. I didn’t know the NAPA A/C was so cold! I didn’t have a sweater, so he took my hands in his and rubbed them together to get them warm. I thought that was so sweet but I had no interest in him romantically. We were just friends.

We became very good friends, just supportive friends. He lived in Curepe, I in Diego Martin. He doesn’t drive, I do. So we’d meet and go have pudding – that man has so much patience. I’d ramble on and he’d just listen and throw in his two cents now and then. He’s very quiet by nature. A GREAT listener.

After some months, I realised Sirj was a very respectable man. And, over the years, I’d learned that it was really, really hard, I can tell you, to find such.

One time, we ended up spending a whole night together, just chatting, and I felt so pleased that he showed me full respect. In the morning, I asked him if he had a girlfriend. He said no and I was surprised because this was a very nice man. I initiated the romance from there because I felt, “This is a really nice catch!” Big woman like me, I was so nervous to tell him how I felt. He said, “Let’s try.” And this month makes it nine years we’re together. We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary in July. He gets along very well with my son, Kevin, too.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWe don’t quarrel, we don’t fight, we don’t cuss, we live so good together. In Diego Martin. And he still don’t drive. And I don’t see him ever looking to drive. I tell him it’s a good thing anyway because these roads are so crazy. He’s happy to take his bus or maxi.

I can’t make roti. But I make a mean curry.

I do not feel very patriotic at this time. Sometimes I don’t even want to say it’s “my” country. There are a lot of positives about it – but there are too many negatives. So many people pray for the country. I don’t feel it. I even question God sometimes.

On the front page of every newspaper, all the time, it’s crime, crime, crime. Top story on the news always crime. Persons have to know themselves and I know myself. I realised that, from reading sad things happening all the time, I started getting very depressed.

Reading the news, hearing the news, even looking at a newspaper, I felt sad. I couldn’t sleep very well. I decided, for me to function day-to-day, I had to cut out reading papers and all forms of news.

People say to me, “What? You don’t read the papers? You don’t watch the news? How you functioning?” Well, I’m alive and I’m going about my business without feeling sad. Mentally, I’ve been far better off this last four years.

Everyone at work knows I don’t read the news so, when I get to the office, they don’t discuss bad news in front of me. Sometimes, not frequently, they will say, “I know you don’t want the news but I have to tell you this story”. And it does still sadden me.

I’m not living in a fantasy land. It’s not that I’m pretending that all that bad stuff is not happening. It’s that I need to function. At home, at work, with my family and friends, I just need to be able to function. I have to protect myself. Even on television, I look at comedy shows and game shows. If I have to read, it’ll be some joke book. I’ve deliberately incorporated these light things in my life.

Four years ago, I got cable TV and, once that came on, I never looked at local television again. I don’t look at American news, either. But I look at the Travel Show on the BBC. I look for [uplifting] stories about people and documentaries. I’m never up-to-date on whatever horror is happening in Syria or Afghanistan or wherever this week.

I think it’s important to hold on to some sort of hope. We go to the free shows the Ministry puts on at NAPA and I say to Sirj, “Why don’t they highlight that?” There’s so much beautiful talent in Trinidad! Why isn’t THAT on the front page of the newspaper? So much good news, it’s just so amazing.

I love the nature in Trinidad. I wish the country could be kept cleaner than it is. You go to beautiful sites in Trinidad and see garbage. Why would anyone carry a KFC bucket into a river?

I’m old-fashioned. My mother raised me to do the right thing.

Mistakes are there to be made. Learn and move on.

When you work, work hard. And when you play, play hard. And NEVER mix the two!

A Trini is freedom.

I love Tobago. I want to retire there. I mean, I love Trinidad & Tobago. But, right now, Tobago is at the top of my list. Not as much violence, beaches, food, relaxation. It is Trinidad & Tobago but, for now, I say Tobago.

No News is Good News

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay
Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay
My name is Annette Sirju and this month makes it four years since I’ve read a newspaper or listened to the radio or television news.

People sometimes show they are surprised when they hear my surname and then see me. But, you know, we live in a calaloo culture: everything is mixed up.

I was born in Dinsley Village. I went to Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary. I was in the first class taken in to Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive. I live in Diego Martin now.

The day I met my husband, he told me his first name was Parasuram. I was, like, “Para-rara-rara-rara-what?” So my family and all my friends and I call him, “Sirj”. My husband takes humour in all these things.

Sirj and me are like chalk and cheese. I am more outgoing, he is a bit introverted. But we get along just fine. We are different personalities but with a very good fit.

For a long time, I used to hike a lot. I took up a hike in Tobago. I had to hustle to get to the boat on the docks after work and [the hiking group] saved a seat for me. I was the last person to board and it was a large group, almost 20 people. When I sat, I saw this man reading a book. He looked up to see who they were saving the seat for and then he put his nose back down in the book. The A/C was right above me and I asked him if he would switch seats with me. I asked him if I could borrow his Readers’ Digest. He nodded. Silence throughout.

When we got to Tobago, by the time I’d unpacked and showered, everyone else but him had left for dinner. So we walked out the road together. But we couldn’t find the rest of the group so we sat in the guest house lobby and chatted for hours. You’d swear we knew one another for a long time. After the four days there, we exchanged numbers.

My first husband is East Indian as well. People always tell me I have “a type” and that might be so – but I know they’re attracted to me! So my 28-year-old daughter, Chantal, does Indian dance. It was Divali time and, on the boat back to Trinidad, I told Sirj Chantal had a show coming up. He agreed to go and I picked him up and he came. Then he invited me to a show at NAPA. I didn’t know the NAPA A/C was so cold! I didn’t have a sweater, so he took my hands in his and rubbed them together to get them warm. I thought that was so sweet but I had no interest in him romantically. We were just friends.

We became very good friends, just supportive friends. He lived in Curepe, I in Diego Martin. He doesn’t drive, I do. So we’d meet and go have pudding – that man has so much patience. I’d ramble on and he’d just listen and throw in his two cents now and then. He’s very quiet by nature. A GREAT listener.

After some months, I realised Sirj was a very respectable man. And, over the years, I’d learned that it was really, really hard, I can tell you, to find such.

One time, we ended up spending a whole night together, just chatting, and I felt so pleased that he showed me full respect. In the morning, I asked him if he had a girlfriend. He said no and I was surprised because this was a very nice man. I initiated the romance from there because I felt, “This is a really nice catch!” Big woman like me, I was so nervous to tell him how I felt. He said, “Let’s try.” And this month makes it nine years we’re together. We celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary in July. He gets along very well with my son, Kevin, too.

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayWe don’t quarrel, we don’t fight, we don’t cuss, we live so good together. In Diego Martin. And he still don’t drive. And I don’t see him ever looking to drive. I tell him it’s a good thing anyway because these roads are so crazy. He’s happy to take his bus or maxi.

I can’t make roti. But I make a mean curry.

I do not feel very patriotic at this time. Sometimes I don’t even want to say it’s “my” country. There are a lot of positives about it – but there are too many negatives. So many people pray for the country. I don’t feel it. I even question God sometimes.

On the front page of every newspaper, all the time, it’s crime, crime, crime. Top story on the news always crime. Persons have to know themselves and I know myself. I realised that, from reading sad things happening all the time, I started getting very depressed.

Reading the news, hearing the news, even looking at a newspaper, I felt sad. I couldn’t sleep very well. I decided, for me to function day-to-day, I had to cut out reading papers and all forms of news.

People say to me, “What? You don’t read the papers? You don’t watch the news? How you functioning?” Well, I’m alive and I’m going about my business without feeling sad. Mentally, I’ve been far better off this last four years.

Everyone at work knows I don’t read the news so, when I get to the office, they don’t discuss bad news in front of me. Sometimes, not frequently, they will say, “I know you don’t want the news but I have to tell you this story”. And it does still sadden me.

I’m not living in a fantasy land. It’s not that I’m pretending that all that bad stuff is not happening. It’s that I need to function. At home, at work, with my family and friends, I just need to be able to function. I have to protect myself. Even on television, I look at comedy shows and game shows. If I have to read, it’ll be some joke book. I’ve deliberately incorporated these light things in my life.

Four years ago, I got cable TV and, once that came on, I never looked at local television again. I don’t look at American news, either. But I look at the Travel Show on the BBC. I look for [uplifting] stories about people and documentaries. I’m never up-to-date on whatever horror is happening in Syria or Afghanistan or wherever this week.

I think it’s important to hold on to some sort of hope. We go to the free shows the Ministry puts on at NAPA and I say to Sirj, “Why don’t they highlight that?” There’s so much beautiful talent in Trinidad! Why isn’t THAT on the front page of the newspaper? So much good news, it’s just so amazing.

I love the nature in Trinidad. I wish the country could be kept cleaner than it is. You go to beautiful sites in Trinidad and see garbage. Why would anyone carry a KFC bucket into a river?

I’m old-fashioned. My mother raised me to do the right thing.

Mistakes are there to be made. Learn and move on.

When you work, work hard. And when you play, play hard. And NEVER mix the two!

A Trini is freedom.

I love Tobago. I want to retire there. I mean, I love Trinidad & Tobago. But, right now, Tobago is at the top of my list. Not as much violence, beaches, food, relaxation. It is Trinidad & Tobago but, for now, I say Tobago.