Thu | Sep 21, 2023

Carolyn Cooper | Rubbing butter on the cat’s mouth at SSL

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2023 | 1:29 AM

We certainly know how fi tek bad tings mek joke. The insecurity of operations at Stocks and Securities Ltd (SSL) has brought out the best in Jamaican comedians. Even as we lament the catastrophic losses so many investors have suffered, we have found a way to turn tragedy into comedy.

It’s therapeutic. If you’re one of the devastated investors in SSL who has been robbed blind, you would go off your head if you kept focusing on the crime. You have to balance up and wheel an come again. Mi feel it fi di 87-year-old widow who has been cleaned out. That’s no laughing matter.

As for Usain Bolt! It hurt mi to mi heart. After all those years of sacrifice and rigorous training that resulted in glory for Jamaica on the world stage! It’s so painful to know that Bolt’s retirement savings gone like Sammy mouth. Vanished! Still, I had a good laugh when a perceptive man on Tik-Tok gave this ranking of powerful forces in Jamaica: God. Jesus. Bob Marley. Usain Bolt.

BAD-MIND AN GRUDGEFUL

Despite Bolt’s international stature, he knew that bad-mind an grudgeful detractors would try to put him in his place. Back in Trelawny bush! The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘bad-minded’ as a West Indian word meaning “malicious, unsympathetic, or cynical”. The definition in the Dictionary of Jamaican English (DJE) is “Ungenerous, thinking ill, evil-minded.” In the Jamaican language, ‘bad-mind’ is usually paired with ‘grudgeful’, which the DJE defines as ‘envious’.

In a 2016 ‘Profile’ interview with Ian Boyne, Bolt recalled a disturbing conversation with a neighbour: “I used to live near a lawyer. I remember when I moved in he said to mi, ‘Listen, be careful yu know.’ Mi seh, ‘Weh yu mean?’ Im seh, ‘They don’t like to see young people strive. Because when I came in here, I was just twenty-three and then they weren’t happy to see mi in this complex’.”

Bolt said he “couldn’t believe it”. At first! Then, he realised the lawyer was right. He told Boyne, “And when it start happening to me a couple a times, ah seh, ‘No! I have to buy a house and move out so I can have mi own place’ .... I had to rush and come out.” Unlike Bolt’s neighbour who identified ageism as the primary issue of exclusion, Ian Boyne went straight to the problem of colour prejudice in Jamaican society: “Some of the lighter-skin people ....”

Bolt interrupted him to add: “Dem nuh too happy fi see yu. Because a lot of dem, because dem go school an work years an years fi reach ...” Boyne interjected, “True, an you just come up.” Bolt agreed: “An me just come up. Because of sports mi get everything. An mi a live here, so mi a do dis, dem nuh happy.” Boyne exclaimed, “So bad-mind is a part of it. Yu experience bad-mind a Jamaica!” Bolt replied, “Strong, man! Strong, strong!”

PROFESSIONAL SPORT IS WORK

The contrast Bolt draws between himself and those who “go school an work years an years fi reach” does not fully acknowledge the fact that professional sport is work. The statement Boyne makes and Bolt repeats about just coming up fails to take into account all of the years of preparation that enabled the athlete to earn a very good living.

Bolt may not have gone to school for tertiary education. But he surely knows that it takes both brawn and brains to excel on the field. Perhaps, Bolt meant that it’s bad-mind people who refuse to understand just how much work it takes to become a professional athlete.

So was it bad-mind an grudgeful, plain and simple, that caused Bolt’s account at SSL to be ransacked? Did envious account executives decide that he didn’t deserve to be so wealthy? The woman who confessed to stealing from clients did not name Bolt as one of her victims. This seems to mean that other employees may have been in on the scam. Perhaps, even top management!

‘AN UNREALISTIC REQUEST’

Usain Bolt could not have known that he was rubbing butter pon puss mouth when he decided to invest at Stocks and Securities Ltd. I am indebted to @misspearlygrandson for reminding us in a wicked Tik-Tok video that wi nuh fi rub butter pon puss mouth. The comedian plays the part of both Deem-Ann Phantom and her lawyer. This is how Ms Phantom justifies the fraud perpetrated at SXHell: “If you think about it, nobody in their right mind is going to rub butter into puss mouth and not at least expect di puss to lick dem tongue. That’s an unrealistic request.”

Recognising that he may have taken a joke too far, Miss Pearly’s grandson posted this notice at the end of the video: “This is, no doubt, a very devastating experience for all directly involved. The purpose of the post is not to trivialize any trauma sustained, but to sensitize the public about potential white collar crimes in Jamaica ... ALLEGEDLY!”

In the same spirit of public education, dancehall DJ Gage asks, “SSL Weh Di Money Deh”? His opening line is, “Dis bigger dan joke.” But there are humorous moments such as, “Who put di runner bank book pon lipo?” Liposuction is such a brilliant image for the reduction of Bolt’s fat account. Both the SSL and the Financial Services Commission must answer Gage’s question. It’s on everybody’s lips, like butter pon puss mouth.

- Carolyn Cooper, PhD, is a teacher of English language and literature and a specialist on culture and development. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and karokupa@gmail.com