I’m sure almost everyone has heard the infamous expression “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well I am going to test this theory by trying my absolute best to post a picture of somewhere I have travelled and give my story behind it.
Ideally, it should be one thousand words but truthfully I don’t think I will be able to do that every time but I shall try.
Have a look at the picture below and understand its story.
I had been living in Japan for almost two and a half years and I decided in the summer of 2010 it was time to make a return 10 day trip home. I LOVE surprises, I live for them, and what better Christmas present I can give my family than the temporary return of their prodigal son.
I was plotting with one of my best friends, Chantal, on my surprise since July. As the date drew nearer the happier I became. I was practically levitating.
At 1am on December 20th, I arrived at Piarco International Airport in the island of Trinidad. Beaming with pure glee, Chantal greeted me with a bouquet of flowers, which I later told my mother that I bought for her.
On the forty minute drive down the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, we talked about everything. Not a moment of silence. It felt as if I never left. I was back home.
One of our conversations centred around how would she explain to my parents why was she in my neighbourhood. After much discussion we came up with the not so exciting story that she was in the area, had gotten a flat tyre and that my house was closest place she could possibly go for help.
I would then run from behind the front gate shout “SURPRISE!” and my parents will both start weeping with overwhelming joy and we would all embrace each other like they do in the movies when the long lost son finally returns. This may I add was Chantal’s idea.
She refused to use my initial story of her being pregnant and not knowing who the father is and she was so devastated and ashamed that she didn’t know who to talk to.
We arrived just before 2am. My parents opened the front door, my mother wearing a barely there black nighty and my father wearing ill fitting underwear. Chantal began to recite her story, then I sprung from behind and shouted “SURPRISE!” My parents started rolling with laughter. I brushed it off citing it as initial shock. Of course, when they embrace me, the tears would be never ending. I hugged them and they still kept on laughing uncontrollably.
I gave up on it on the tears and told my mom I was famished, expecting a delicious “trini” meal. She then asked me “Do you want onions on your hot dog.” I hungrily replied “Anything Ma.”
That night I went to bed exhausted but unequivocally happy. I was sleeping in my bed, in my pink house, in my home, in my room. I quickly fell into an indistinct dream and woke up fours later. I was terribly jet-lagged.
A few days later, I got very ill. A nasty cold was quickly spreading its way across the country. Sleep deprivation and the extreme differences in temperature between Japan and Trinidad had made me the perfect candidate for falling victim to this virus.
For the rest of my trip I was pretty much bed ridden. This is not how I had envisioned my trip. I was supposed to be lying semi-nude on Maracas beach, eating ‘bake and shark’, soaking in the warm Caribbean sun on my pale skin; taking long car rides with my friends heading to nowhere in particular but thoroughly enjoying the journey; dancing the night away to the electrifying sounds of sweet soca music and barely remembering the night before.
But this is not what was happening. I was alone in my bed in taupe coloured room, cold, shivering aftering puking for an eternity. My trip was ruined. I was sad.
Christmas morning came.
For as long as I could remember my mother has always asked my father, sister and I every year for the same Christmas present and that is for us to go to church with her on Christmas morning.
I am not exactly the most religious person, and neither is my father, but we always begrudgingly agreed because service is usually at 7am but almost always did because we love her.
Somehow, on that morning my sickness temporarily disappeared. I was well enough to continue the tradition of our early morning Christmas service. My mother was elated.
After the service at the very humble yet inviting Waterloo Presbyterian Church, I told my parents I want to see the Temple in the Sea. That’s how we come to the picture above. It is one of the iconic images of Trinidad and Tobago and in spite of living so close to it, I had embarrassingly never seen it.
It’s funny how life is. We always take for granted the things around us, the people dearest to us. It was a breathtaking morning, the sky was the most brilliant blue but most of all, I was feeling mildly better.
By mother drove a short distance and we finally arrived at the famed Siewdass Sadhu- Temple in the Sea nestled perfectly in the Gulf of Paria. It was a simple structure, no different from other temples I had seen but there was something strangely captivating about it.
There is a loneliness about it but that is precisely what makes it so beautiful. There was nothing around it except the open sea. As we walked closer it, it seemed as if it was luring us in, welcoming us to say a simple hello.
We explored a bit and then sun began to punish us with it rays. It was time to go.
As we were walking back to the car, my father began telling me the history of the temple. He said “Son, a man build this temple to show the entire world the unwavering love her had for his deceased wife. That’s true love, son.”
I then replied, “Dad, that’s the Taj Mahal you are talking about! I read the history on the sign before we entered.”
We then drove home listening to Christmas carols playing on the radio and making fun of my dad and his historical faux pas.