A day in the asylum

Sometimes, the mistake made is to try to put structure onto things that don’t really have it. Life is often just a jumble of events and making sense of it is not possible. Today has been one of those day when so many thoughts have gone through my mind that I can understand easily why many people wander around bewildered–about their own lives and about the lives of those around them. So, with no attempt to structure the thoughts, they will flow.

Murder most heinous: beheading, like an animal butchered; chopped many times about the head; shot through the window of her car; kidnapped, raped and mutilated, the body strewn to be found by whoever came across it. Find the killers. Burn them. Burn their houses. Hurl stones at them. Hit them with iron pipes, till their blood spills and runs on the road like rain. Vengeance! Police! Police! Help! What a hope that would be. People who may be useful with enquiries. Hide, before they see that you are an informer. You’ll be killed as quick as you speak. Hide your head. Then, enough. March. March. Pray. March. Pray. Beg for help. Beg for deliverance.

Civil war within your midst, but you never chose sides. An enemy lurks in shadows and on street corners. Sitting in cars, gun on the belt; gun in the hand. Passing by, then bullets fly. ‘Gang-related’ we hear about nearly 2 of every three killings. So many gangs, how can they get recruits who are ready to die. Civil war being waged. But, one side has no arms, no soldiers. The other, coming trampling like the original Thugees; living amongst the people, like ordinary neighbours, but just waiting to kill to gain control.

Imagine, your house, your home, becoming a commodity for which you have to pay in order to continue living as if it’s your home. So offensive an idea. Reminds me of the way that invading soldiers during the Second World War would commandeer property and take over lives.

Nazi soldiers show who is in control of occupied country.
Nazi soldiers show who is in control of occupied country.

They had the force, so they had the rights. Come, pay homage! ‘Big man’, ‘Don’, ‘Capo’, ‘Godfather’. Pay respects: one for me, half for you; two for me, half for you; three for me, half for you. Squeeze! Survival? That’s your problem, poor wretch. Uneducated. Uninformed. Dependent. Always the victims. Always.

“Don’t drive through Mountain View; it’s a volatile area. But, all of east Kingston is volatile. How do people who need to go to St. Thomas reach there? Take a boat, and bypass? How do travellers to the Norman Manley International Airport get there? Take helicopter. Those people have enough money. They are the ones who take the food from the poor. Clichés. Need someone to blame.

Kiss the ring of The Godfather

How many children do you have? Five, sir. All the same father? No, sir; five different fathers. Are any of the fathers living with you? No, sir: all of them are in prison. It’s just me to look after the children. I have no job, sir, but I hustle downtown, selling cigarettes and sweeties. Let’s tie your tubes and stop you having any more children. You’re a burden. They’re a burden. The fathers are a burden.  You’re living lives that make no sense. Chinese investors will be our hope and answer all our prayers. We should learn from how they reached where they are.

One child policy
One child policy

You are getting what you deserve. A wretched life, for a wretched people. Did you vote? I did. I didn’t. Half cared enough. Half were scared. Half didn’t see the point. Half hoped to get work for voting–politicians promised us jobs. Well, no jobs. There’s a world recession. Haven’t you heard? Half didn’t need to; they have friends and friends of friends, and good friends and good school friends, and college friends. Everyone’s so friendly in Jamaica. Don’t it?

A learnèd professor tells us that one million Jamaicans have personality disorders. No kidding! Hold on. How many? We have a population of just under three million. So…about one-in-three persons is a little off their rockers? More or less. It all starts to make sense now. We’re in a mental asylum. The cuckoo’s nest. Some of us get to walk around the gardens and smell the flowers. Go to play cards and other games with our friends. We sit at meals alone or with some people we see, barely recognizing some, thinking we recognize others. Babbling to be heard as the orderly throws some slops in our direction. No one knows what they did to get placed here, but that’s what is happening. It’s just a big madhouse.

All the talk we hear are voices in our heads. Close your ears. “War against crime…” “Community policing…” “Increasing resources…” “Street patrols…” “We will find the killers…” The noise! They make no sense. The voices. La-la-la-la. Can’t hear you!

Houdini in his strait jacket
Houdini in his strait jacket

“Tommy? Can you hear me? You’re sweating. Were you having a nightmare?” You look up at the face of the nurse and doctor. Hypodermic needle in hand. You see the serum. Will it be calming? Take away the pain? “Relax. It will be alright.” That’s all they ever say.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)