Youth Buzz (March/April 2005)

The Caribbean Examinations Council celebrates some of the region's brightest youngsters; with a short story by Liana Baboolal

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CXC champs

For high-flying sport stars and successful celebrities of the Caribbean, congratulations and praise are common rewards. The hardworking students of the region, on the other hand, who apply themselves with the same dedication and discipline, rarely feature in magazines or on TV. Caribbean Beat is pleased to join the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in congratulating the following seven young women and men, all top achievers in the 2004 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examinations, on their exceptional endeavours and remarkable results.

From St Vincent and the Grenadines, Kamal Wood of the St Vincent Grammer School took the award for most outstanding student overall in the region. Kamal had previously won academic awards for excellence on two occasions, and will be soon enrolling at the University of the West Indies with a well-earned scholarship.

Over in Jamaica, Daniel Thomas of Ardenne High School received the award for most outstanding performance in sciences, and was also his school’s valedictorian for 2004. An avid music fan — he plays the piano, saxophone, and guitar — Daniel also loves swimming. He wants to apply his impressive scientific talent to a career in medicine and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon.

Kimala Swanston from St Kitts and Nevis, where she attends Charlestown Secondary School, was another high flyer last year, picking up the award for most outstanding performance in business education. She put her success down to the “large amounts of time and effort she put into her work.” Away from school, she enjoys the piano, swimming, and her church’s youth choir.

In Barbados, Emma Chapman of Queen’s College picked up the award for most outstanding performance in visual arts two-dimensional work. A skilled artist who already makes her own jewellery, soaps, and candles, Emma is no stranger to awards — she won the bronze medal in the visual arts amateur category at the Barbados National Independence Festival of Creative Arts in 2003. She wants to focus on a career in illustration or jewellery design.

Demekos Williams from Raymond Gardiner High School in the Turks and Caicos Islands took the award for most outstanding performance in visual arts three-dimensional work. Modest in receipt of the award, Demekos was quick to thank those around him, attributing his success to “God’s grace, determination, consistency, a great art teacher, and encouraging classmates and parents.” Demekos is yet to commit himself to one career, holding up medicine or law as strong possibilities.

The award for most outstanding performance in technical vocational subjects went to aspiring engineer Donrick Slocombe of Grenada. A student at Grenada Boys Secondary School, he described the CXC exam experience as “many trying times and nights of hard work.” An avid drummer and music fan, Donrick wants to pursue a career incorporating elements from his two favourite subjects — technical drawing and building technology.

And from Trinidad and Tobago, Liana Baboolal of Naparima Girls High School received the award for the best short story written in the English “A” examination. Her vivid and well-crafted piece, based on a photograph of an elderly man, is reproduced below

Well done, top performers of 2004!

 

“Perhaps today he would remember”

by Liana Baboolal

He hungrily gulped in the fresh air, the clean tang of the sweet smell of rain still lingered in the atmosphere and his nostrils welcomed it — it was something he knew. All the lush vegetation around him blended into a monotonous shade of green. Everything seemed so clean and new — almost rejuvenated. Although great, big tufts of grey lurked around ominously in the sky overhead, he felt calm . . . serene. Perhaps today he would remember which way home was.

He had been walking for days, it seemed. His wet suit hung tiredly from his gaunt body and once again he smothered the pangs of hunger assaulting his stomach. Noticing a speck at the end of the long, winding road, his heartbeat accelerated — was this home? He pushed his old bones to walk a little faster, maybe he would be home soon. As he got closer and closer to the end of the road, the speck began to take on a definite form, and with a laden heart, he realised that a shack was the only thing that stood out among the blur of green.

On reaching the tiny shack — obviously abandoned, since it was overwhelmed by clinging green vines — he suddenly felt tired. All his strength seemed to be sapped away by an unseen force and he lowered his tired form to the grassy ground. Cradling his legs to his chest, he rocked back and forth, trying to draw some comfort from the soothing movement.

That was the way Susan found him. His hair stood up in all different directions, wrinkled creases marred his brow, and his whole posture was that of a frightened, confused man. A twig snapped under her feet and he suddenly jumped up, his bones creaking in protest.

The young woman before him smiled. A smile that seemed to be a brilliant beam of sunlight in his otherwise melancholy world. Her rich, chocolate-brown eyes were filled with warmth and understanding. These eyes mesmerised him — they seemed to reach out to him in an unspoken, yet thankfully loud, message.

He found himself offering up one wrinkled, trembling hand and, without a thought, the young woman grasped it — hung onto it as though it were something to be treasured, and he felt the warmth of her hand spread all through his entire body. That warmth, combined with the warmth of her smile and the warmth in her beautiful dark eyes, seemed to banish all the cold loneliness and bewilderment in his heart.

Susan found her eyes welling up with tears, and tried her best to remain standing. This time he had been gone for so many days that it seemed like a miracle that he was alive.

“Home?” he asked, his voice sounding as trusting and as innocent as that of a child. “Yes, home, grandpa,” she reassured him, as she led him slowly out into the road where her car was parked.

His bearded face split into a grin as he spotted her car. He was so very thankful that he did not have to walk again — he was completely fed up of walking. As Susan saw his grateful smile, she once again cursed the disease that had robbed her grandfather of all his intelligence, vitality, and all his control of life itself, leaving in its wake this scared, confused shell of an old man — Alzheimer’s, the disease that her grandfather, a renowned doctor, had tried to fight, but had lost.