“[…] Dr Keith Rowley previously promised, however, that once a majority of the population was vaccinated, only the protected would be allowed to celebrate this colourful festival. This brought about protests, of course.
“[…] Now here he was, in front of the cameras once again. All the conditions had been met and his attire was casual. He wore a blue blazer with a Hawaiian designed shirt. This could only mean…”
Seventeen-year-old St George’s College student Sade Hinkson is the fourth shortlisted writer for the 16-18 category for the Wired868 Write Start competition. Their topic is to ‘describe the ways in which you think the first post-Covid-19 Carnival will be different from its predecessors’:
The year is 2025 and the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging through the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The population of the isles had been reduced by at least 27%. Now there were only the survivors—those who were vaccinated.
On 16 March 2024, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley, made the announcement that the Covid-19 virus which terrorised the country for the past four years, was slowly diminishing. Along with this news, he proclaimed that 97% of the population had become fully vaccinated.
At this point, the nation of Trinidad and Tobago came to a standstill. Birds stopped chirping. Cars were at a halt and every eye was tuned into the big announcement the Prime Minister had promised. Every Trinbagonian held their breath.
It was rumoured that Carnival 2025 would be discussed at that day’s conference but a rumour was all we assumed it to be.
Carnival is a significant part of our culture and we often prayed for the day that the Prime Minister would allow the big trucks and carnival bands to infest the streets of Port of Spain once again. But by the second year, citizens had given up hope of the return of the festival, having been denied by Dr Rowley continuously.
He had previously promised, however, that once a majority of the population was vaccinated, only the protected would be allowed to celebrate this colourful festival. This brought about protests, of course. It was all the media spoke about for weeks; but, in the end, we couldn’t deny the intelligence behind the decision.
Now here he was, in front of the cameras once again. All the conditions had been met and his attire was casual. He wore a blue blazer with a Hawaiian designed shirt. This could only mean…
“Carnival will resume in March 2027!” He exclaimed. Cheers erupted from every house. Amidst the loud noise, I somehow dozed off.
After years of multiple variants, Covid-19 had finally lessened and in true Trinbagonian style it was time to celebrate; and what better way to express gratitude than celebrate through song and dance—whining and grinding, stick fighting and revelry and listening to the sweet sounds of Skiffle Bunch on Coffee.
I could already hear Street, Despers, Exodus and Laventille Rhythm Section beating the old steel pan through the streets. Yes! Carnival. I could hear the pulsating soca music, Point Fortin Rhythm Section beating that iron, sweat pouring down the faces, the gleaning of eyes from the Sections players as they amped up their selections. Yes! Carnival.
I couldn’t help but feel joyous. My aunt called my mother shouting “It’s Carnival!”
Weeks passed after the announcement, men and women rushed to the gym to shed the weight gained during the pandemic so that they could flaunt their bodies through the streets. ‘Wining classes’ were held to ‘put de rhythm’ back into Trinbagonians. People were reserving their spots in bands months in advance, and foreigners were already booking flights.
Finally, my first Carnival experience playing mas. Months passed and Carnival neared. Trinbagonians and visitors were anxious. Despite the cloud of despair, Ronnie and Caro had invited their clients to collect their package. They had collaborated with Patrice Roberts to create a tribe called ‘Freedom’.
The crimson red costume on the mannequin stirred up the excitement in all the customers who laid eyes on it. The one piece’s sequins sparkled in all its glory and, per usual, there were feathers but they had been arranged into a breathtaking but short train.
The costume came with a gold and red feathery headpiece and a complimentary gold mask. I could tell that the mask was there to provide security to those who were still wary about the ordeal.
Carnival Sunday, police officers were issuing countless warnings to masqueraders on how to have a safe and enjoyable Carnival. I was aware that this was a usual part of the experience, but now more than ever they were stressing the importance of cleanliness and safe practices—as if we hadn’t been hearing these instructions for years.
Soon enough, Carnival Monday was here. Before the sun was even up, music trucks were heard throughout the streets playing recent soca hits from Voice, Erphaan Alves, the ‘retired’ monk Machel Montano and so much more.
To my surprise, not many people were on the road. Although there were reports that Ronnie and Caro x Patrice had been sold out months in advance, there were about 20 persons there for the most. Everyone had kept on their mask and tried to self-distance but as soon as we hit the stage we danced as recklessly as we could.
The day ended and the police commissioner was on the news reporting on the success of Carnival Monday. Police officers were stationed about the country’s capital and, thankfully, no incidents took place. Carnival was finally back into full swing, but everyone was still cautious of practising cleanliness. Although the stress and trauma of the pandemic clouded the minds of Trinbagonians, their love for Carnival surpassed the worries.
Bang! Bang! I awoke with a start to a noise.
The Prime Minister was still speaking and laying the groundwork for Carnival. Only vaccinated persons would be allowed to play mas. Mas bands would consist of not more than 10 individuals per section. Soca Monarch, Chutney Monarch, Calypso Monarch would be held virtually. All-inclusive fetes will be held virtually.
“Essentially, Carnival will now be held virtually,” the Prime Minister said.
I rolled my eyes at the false hope of a normal Carnival and went back to sleep.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 will announce the winners of the inaugural Write Start competition on 13 December 2021. The first place winner will get TT$6,000, a six-month mobile plan from bmobile, and two complimentary movie tickets to CinemaONE.
Click HERE for more information on the Wired868 Write Start prize structure and do share your favourite essays!