Vaneisa: The solitary silence of words, and launching Son of Grace

Writing is a solitary experience. It’s you and your thoughts—all the chatter is internal. I do not quiver at the notion of solitude; I’m quite happy to be ensconced within my brain.

When I finished with the book I had been working on for five or six years, Son of Grace, the biography of Sir Frank Worrell, I emerged into a world that seemed to be a constant flurry of interactions.

Photo: West Indies batsman Frank Worrell goes on the attack.

First, with the publisher, then with the logistics of getting physical copies of the book into the country, then checking out bookshops, and then planning a launch.

It has felt like a hubbub of activity, all of which required dealing with people and discovering the intricacies of the post-publication world. Often, I wanted to just retreat, especially when the details of organising a launch ­assaulted me.

I managed it because I was determined to invite people I knew personally, some of whom I had not seen in years. It felt right as I was happy to reconnect. Still, I was anxious, wondering if it would go well—without mishap at least.

They say nothing ever goes exactly according to plan, so I was prepared in that sense.

I could not have imagined that it would have exceeded my expectations the way it did. The launch on Tuesday was well attended, the Dalai Llama pub provided precisely the kind of ambience that suits my disposition.

Former West Indies cricketers Sir Clive Lloyd (left) and Bryan Davis (right) have a word with Queen’s Park Cricket Club president Nigel Camacho during the launch of Son of Grace at the Dalai Llama Pub in Woodbrook on 23 April 2024.
(via Son of Grace)

It was wonderful to see familiar faces, and most people commented on the good vibes of the evening. It was worth it.

Emerita Professor of History Bridget Brereton was the feature speaker, and although she declared herself nothing of a cricket historian, she spoke about the book in the context within which I had written it: as a West Indian biography that sought to locate its subject in a historical framework.

Bryan Davis, a former West Indies Test player, movingly shared his personal reminiscences about Sir Frank. His stories about a young scared newcomer being welcomed by this “demi-god” endorsed what had been an abiding quality of Worrell: his ­nurturing mentorship.

Former West Indies cricketer Bryan Davis speaks about his relationship with late West Indies captain Frank Worrell during the launch of Son of Grace at the Dalai Llama Pub in Woodbrook on 23 April 2024.
(via Son of Grace)

Professor Gerard Hutchinson readily agreed to take the role of master of ceremonies, although I know it must have been a challenge for him to find the time.

As I sat there listening to them, it struck me that they have something in common. Each in their own space has been committed to public service. Without fanfare, they have been selfless in their contributions to our society.

Bridget is a beloved historian, not simply because of the breadth of her knowledge, but because of the generosity with which she lends her expertise to anyone who seeks it.

Bryan has done the same, sharing his insights into contemporary cricket in his newspaper columns and coaching and managing youngsters for years.

Author and columnist Vaneisa Baksh (front, left) sit alongside Professor Gerard Hutchinson during the launch of Son of Grace, which is a biography of former West Indies cricket captain Frank Worrell, at the Dalai Llama Pub in Woodbrook on 23 April 2024.
(via Son of Grace)

Anyone who knows Gerard has seen how he extends himself in extraordinary ways. His academic work as a professor of psychiatry, his continuous availability to patients in need, his support for musicians, and now, as a senator.

It is a dizzying array and I ­often wonder how he manages to stretch himself so thin.

It made me feel that the people who were speaking at the podium were perfectly aligned to the spirit of Sir Frank and the qualities I feel he embodied.

Photo: (From left) Iconic West Indies cricketers Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott–otherwise known as the ‘Three Ws’.
(via Skynews)

So, when it came to my turn, I didn’t think it necessary to talk about the book itself but to invoke those characteristics of nurturing and mentorship which still exist in our society, though rather sparingly.

I also raised, for the umpteenth time, the idea that we should be telling our stories using our voices and not having people tell them for us.

It had occurred to me that in truth, we have a huge corpus of literature, fiction and non-fiction, and that the issue really was not whether we were telling our stories. The problem, the big problem, is that these voices are ­largely shunted aside.

Author Vaneisa Baksh speaks during the launch of Son of Grace, the biography of iconic West Indies cricket captain Frank Worrell, at the Dalai Llama Pub in Woodbrook on 23 April 2024.
(via Son of Grace)

I’d jotted down some names from a bookshelf in my living room: Bridget Brereton, BC Pires, Keith Smith, Jeremy Taylor, Reginald Dumas, Gordon Rohlehr, Kenneth Ramchand, CLR James, VS Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Terrence Farrell, Earl Lovelace, Wayne Brown, Debbie Jacob, Michael Anthony, Jackie Hinkson, Kim Johnson, Sam Selvon, Judy Raymond, Raymond Ramcharitar, George John, Owen Baptiste, Ken Gordon, Anu Lakhan, Brinsley Samaroo.

I could have gone on and on, because the more I looked at the shelves, the more I felt astonished at what a cornucopia already exists.

Photo: Cover image of The Illustrated Story of Pan.
(Courtesy Kim Johnson)

So why then are they not the books being circulated en masse throughout our society? They should be available in schools, in public libraries, they should be part of the curriculum at all levels.

I am not a fan of the idea that they should be segmented into categories, like history or sport, and so on. As a collective, they are stories about ourselves. They are interesting, lively, and often beautifully crafted narratives that reveal much about who we are and where we come from.

I tell you, if people could read these works, they would come to a closer understanding of their identity and feel that sense of belonging that has gone missing.

Author Vaneisa Baksh autographs copies of her book during the launch of Son of Grace at the Dalai Llama Pub in Woodbrook on 23 April 2024.
(via Son of Grace)

I can’t help myself—I really believe in the power of words. I’m part of one of the Bocas Lit Fest panels today from 2.30pm at the AV room at NALIS. I will be using my words!

Editor’s Note: Son of Grace is available at Paper-Based on Alcazar Street and Metropolitan on Ariapita Avenue, as well as at the Bocas Lit Fest. It is also available online. Click HERE to purchase online.

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One comment

  1. Awesome stuff , too many of our historians , story tellers and intelligent minds have passed without ,writing what they know . We need to change that we need to write more .

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