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Think Piece: Tanti at De Oval

Essay by kikiUp  •  April 9, 2018  •  Coursework  •  1,604 Words (7 Pages)  •  322 Views

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Think Piece

“Paul Keens-Douglas was born in September of 1942 in San Juan, Trinidad, but spent his early childhood in Grenada where his family resides and where he attended Presentation Boys College . Paul Keens-Douglas is a playwright, writer and performer whose voice is nicely recognized in the Caribbean. His stories present engaging colloquial language, vivid imagery and relatable tales . As one writer puts it, “Paul Keens-Douglas celebrates our rich cultural amalgam and Caribbean landscapes like nobody else does. With a bubbling well of humour, humanity and heart, he reaches into the innermost crevices of ourselves and our cultures, and brings us back to joyful feeling, to the real sweetness of our societies.”

Paul Keens-Douglas short story “Tanti At De Oval” was published in 1992 but written in 1976. It is based on the writer’s aunt, Tanti Merle, and her first visit to The Queen’s Park Oval (the ‘Oval’) in Trinidad to watch an important cricket match between Trinidad and the Combined Islands.’

My first impression of this was “why, in the world do I have to do this in the first place.” But after quietly sitting down and listening to the audio, I realised that it was quite entertaining and enlightening, it reflected the Caribbean people’s culture, passion and manner of expression that to me expresses their enthusiasm and joy for living. In the piece Paul Keens-Douglas used a variety of slangs. In analysing this piece ‘Tanti At De Oval’ I noticed different issues were identified in this story and expressed in his dialogue. Issues like gender, nationalism, the Caribbean language and how cricket was viewed in the Caribbean.

Tanti Merle was an elderly woman only sixty-five year’s old living in Trinidad but originated from St Vincent and proud to be one. She is a ‘fussy’ old woman who likes to be in control, this is indicated where he said “So ah tell she "choose yu own taxi". She say she want ah red taxi. Now tell me why your Tanti Merle must drive. In ah red taxi” I also noticed her loud and boisterous nature. Shown where he said “An' is den Tanti Merle start up, She tell ah fella in front she to take off he hat, She say it barrin' she. Well he start to cuss she, an she start to cuss he An' I tryin' to put peace, but ah frighten, Because is a real 'Bad-John' Tanti interfere with.” On the other hand being an elderly woman in that time, and going to the game in support of the Combined islands could be seen as being unusual by Keens-Douglas response when realized he had to carry Tanti Merle to an important cricket tournament like Trinidad vs the Combined island in Queen Park Oval. However, women were present, loving the atmosphere and excitement of watching the games just as much as the men. Keens-Douglas portrayed Tanti as being a hindrance to him from in fully enjoying the match. This is shown where keen-Douglas says “Ah mean to say, yu had de whole year, To send Tanti Merle to de Oval, But why today, eh? Today of all days, Trinidad versus de Islands, ah big match like dat.” Cricket was seen in Caribbean as male dominated ‘where Tanti going’ Although it was a man’s game Tanti merle was so passionate about her national team that when the loudspeaker say ‘match eh tie it draw’, Tanti Merle was able to rouse the crowd to a near riot in defence of her team.

Paul Keens-Douglas mastered his art of storytelling in a poetic form using local dialect to express his impression of life in Trinidad and Tanti Merle was a hilarious representative of that. The Caribbean language is referred to as creole a ‘language that has evolved as a result of the Europeans who colonised our islands during the period of slavery and beyond.’ (Rochford) In ‘Tanti at de oval’ we see how Paul used his understanding of Trinidad dialect to express his views and experience with Tanti and to give his audience an idea and view of that experience throughout the piece. According to (Rochford) ‘Dialect is defined as any variety of a language characteristic of a particular group of the language‘s speakers. The term applied most often to regional factors, but it can also be defined by other factors such as geographical, ethnic, socio-economic or gender group’s speech pattern.’ Throughout the piece he was able to project the hilariousness, the humorousness of their conflicts in an expressive language that can be understood by anyone in or from the Caribbean region. This poetic form could still hold its own with ‘spoken word’ and ‘rapso’ of today.

Thirdly, in this piece we can also see how the Caribbean people including Tanti Merle express



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