My mother loved the silly season, the entire length and breath of Barbados changed at that time, the very air that we breathed seemed different. Elections were in the air. Everyone became very politically conscious and they took sides. You were either a Bee or a Dem, there was no place for an in between. They were “diehards” on both sides. No matter where you went during the silly season, politics was always the discussion.
During the silly season, if there was a meeting nearby, my mother and I would go and listen to what the speakers had to say. We would go to the little spot meetings and the big meetings in Oistins. Political meetings in Barbados are somewhat festive, a lot of people go to be seen and it was no different when I was a little girl. The name meeting is quite accurate, it was the place where people met up with their friends and listened to what the politicians has to say.
I remember some of the speakers who went on to become prominent. Some of them were eloquent, some kept my attention, others did not. Sometimes the atmosphere became charged by the words which ignited feelings within those in attendance. Way back then, I learnt that speaking on a political platform was not the easiest thing to do. It takes a charismatic person with a big personality. I listened and tried to make sense out of what I heard. It was the starting point that developed my love for politics.
I soon learned that songs were an integral part of the silly season, from out of nowhere, songs became attached to parties or particular individuals. There was a chorus “butt he, Billy butt he!” that the people sang for Billie Miller who was the representative for the City of Bridgetown, then The Mighty Gabby sang the “Stinging Bees” and the Mighty Gryner sang “ Mr. T.”
For me the silly season brought the excitement of the political meetings, then the anticipation of the climax of who was going to win. Somehow the silly season to me reflected Christmas, there was the hustle and bustle of preparing for the big Election Day. When that day came the atmosphere seemed changed. There was a Sunday quiet that developed. Everyone seemed to be anxiously waiting for the unknown.
The first time that I was old enough to remember an Election Day; I realized that it was different. It was a rainy morning, very rainy, no sun in the sky just grey clouds filled with rain. It was gloomy to everyone but the many egrets that rested on the trees by the pond. They seemed to take turns flying around. They were certainly having fun in the rain. Maybe it was the grey sky that set the mood my mother was in. So I thought, because she was standing looking out the back door at the birds in the pond which was behind the house. It was early maybe before 7 a.m. She seemed worried as though something weighed heavily on her mind. I asked her what had happened and she said that she was trying to decide who to vote for. She did not know who to vote for because in her opinion both parties were the same. Maybe it helped her sort out her thoughts, so she spoke to me before she went to vote. Maybe to her the day predicted the bleak reality that broken promises are made to the poor.
To her politicians were people who you saw at election time, once every five years, they promised the world and after they were elected, you never saw them again. She wanted to vote for someone who would be of help to her and her children. She wondered if her vote would make a difference to how we lived then and how it would impact our future. She wanted to understand the unknown. It made me wonder if other people were making their decisions based on confidence or on their fears. I never found out, but my mother went and exercised her right in the way she thought best at that time.
Looking back, I can recall my mother loved the silly season for it filled her with hope. But Election Day was a day to hate because that day brought to life her fears that the plight of the poor would remain unchanged. Now I know that her thoughts, her fears are just as relevant today as they were yesterday because things never really changed.