Ask not what Helen can do for you . . .

Have you ever wondered where all the formers have gone? You know, those used-to-be-this or used-to-be-that people who evidently now qualify for where-are-they-now attention? It seems I’m one of them: a former somebody. Some individuals I’ve never met before actually address me in the street by my first name. Others walk up to me at the supermarket to tell me: “I know you.” To which I usually reply, with a shameless plastic smile: “Really? I’m sure I don’t know you. What makes you think you know me?”

At this point they will scratch their heads, place a hand on their check, roll eyes, as if in deep thought. (Does squinting and looking upward have some special effect on our sense of recall?) Then, when they think they’ve hit pay dirt, they’ll say: “Yes, that’s it . . . you used to be . . .”

Rufus Bousquet

Rufus Bousquet: Former Foreign Affairs Minister. Where is he now and what is he doing? 

Such encounters often leave me perplexed, I don’t know, like I should still be doing what I used to be doing and don’t know why I’m not still doing it. Often I wonder: is it better to be a former who was quickly forgotten once out of the spotlight? Or a former well remembered for all the worst reasons . . . or a never-was-er? Then again, for what are never-was-ers best remembered? My special jury is still out on such questions.

Usually, those who say they remember me from an earlier life will add that they used to so enjoy what I used to do. Which then sets me wondering why they had kept that to themselves and why it had taken them so long to locate me in their memory banks.

So, if anyone has been wondering about a certain former STAR editor (and no, I’m not referring to her), wonder no more. She is happily married, currently mothering two adorable, smart-mouthed girls, and, when time permits, trying to stay sane by doing some writing and photography.

Permit me a small digression; the earlier mentioned her refers to fellow-former, whom I now congratulate in her new position: Nicole McDonald. I can just hear her saying, “Eliza? Eliza who?” The ingrate; after all I taught her. But seriously, I know Nicole will shine in her new job, just as she did when we were together at the STAR.

But to go on: some months ago I bumped into a former (yes!) government minister and caught myself wondering where all the former ministers and also-rans had gone. I note that a few have popped up since June 6, as if from nowhere. I guess they couldn’t have been doing anything of much importance otherwise they wouldn’t have been as readily available for placement on the new boards and wherever else there’s a public-service vacancy. You ever wonder about that? You don’t see or hear of these people for decades, or for as long as their party is not in office, but as soon as “de partee” is returned, however, so are they.

I used to like Damian Greaves. I’d always found him to be approachable and forthright. He was up-front even about his vasectomy. So where is he now? What about Calixte George? Walter Francois? Petrus Compton? Ignatius Jean? Therold Prudent? Marcus Nicholas? Where has Doddy disappeared to?

Where are all the used-to-bes, the persistent wanted-to-bes, too, who had led many to believe they were the cure to all that ailed Helen? They were the political equivalent of gwen anba fey. What are they doing now? I know they can’t all be dead. Why aren’t they writing op-eds? Why aren’t they sharing all that knowledge and wisdom they claimed to possess while in government, or while heading important statutory bodies? What are they doing to ameliorate Helen’s worsening condition? How are they contributing to her recovery from the mess to which they had all contributed, one way or another, over the years?

Notice how all of a sudden everyone (please read everyone remotely connected to the UWP) is donating wheelchairs and books and everything else under the sun? Didn’t they have access to such life-saving items before June 6? If you are concerned about the development of your country and people shouldn’t you be reaching out, regardless of which party is in office? Are you saying now your concern for bursaries and scholarships has always been seasonal?

All I’m saying is, whether you are a political used-to-be or some kind of also-ran, your voice and your good deeds should be audible and visible regardless of season. It serves no one, not even yourself—and certainly not the land that gave us birth, all of us—to bury yourself in some cocoon the minute your party has been evicted from public office. Come to think about it, the House opposition is supposed to see itself as an important part of the day’s government. Pointless lying more or less dormant until it’s time to take another shot at being returned to office. Ideally, we’re all supposed to be working for our nation’s development, in or out of government!

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