Twenty seventh July 1990. The day I confirmed being pregnant for the second time. The first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
On this day, I left the doctor’s office filled with happiness. When my husband (now ex-) met me at the nursing home, he shared my joy. We could not wait to share with our respective families.
On getting home, we each had a shower before joining the rest of his family. We lived at his parents’ home at the time.
It was just about that time that the mood of the evening changed. What was about to unfold was something so unreal to us but yet it was actually happening.
On the television screen of one of our local channels, there was a news reporter, surrounded by two armed men dressed in Muslim garb. We know now that they were Muslimeen, belonging to the Mucurapo Mosque in Northern Trinidad.
At first we thought it was some sort of prank; only in Trinidad could one think that terrorists on the news channel would be a joke. But that is an indication of how far-fetched the idea of terrorism or a coup had been for us.
As we continued looking on the seriousness of the situation became clear. There was a pronouncement by the leader of the group that, “There will be no looting”.
That statement seems to have been a signal. Immediately the crowds in Port of Spain began to riot; there was looting everywhere. The situation was scary.
We heard of hostages in the Red House, at the television station and the radio stations. We heard of shootings and rampant lawlessness. We were put under curfew and could not venture out after six in the evening.
Groceries were being rationed. Goods were scarce. Milk was hard to come by. I remember that distinctly because my then husband and I wanted to make sure I drank enough milk.
We had to settle for a case of chocolate milk.
The atmosphere was so unlike the usual jolly Trini atmosphere. There was a lot of tension; much speculation about outside forces being involved. Hovering helicopters had us scampering inside, unsure of their intention.
But even in the midst of this almost tangible fear and foreboding, we found a way to diffuse it. On our compound there were three families. We got together and organised to cook curried duck and roti (a type of flat unleavened bread).
This was like placing masking tape over a leaking water line: it could not keep off the dripping water. The ever-present fear and concern for our beloved country and people could not be kept at bay by mere morsels of food.
The foremost thought in my mind was of the type of future my darling child would have. We delayed telling anyone of our good news, filled with trepidation about the situation and how severe it could get and how long it would last.
The details of the 1990 Coup in Trinidad can be found on the internet but the reality of the emotional, physical and psychological trauma can only be imagined, unless you have also been in such a situation.
Tell me how does one make the decision to undertake holding a country to ransom?