17 October 2003, 1043 words
This country is beset by problems, so much so that many people think our only hope lies in prayer. But, given the reality of our situation, only the most obdurate could think that there is a benevolent God listening to believers' appeals. It would be far more effective to appeal to science, except that scientific ignorance is so pervasive in this superstitious society that the best we can probably do is appeal to comic-book science for help.
So, maybe terrorists will explode a gamma bomb in Trinidad and the radiation will cause mutations that will create super-heroes. Or maybe the United States is conducting secret genetic experiments here, which will give its Trini subjects super-powers. Or maybe some sort of mystic energy will sweep the land, unlocking the hidden potential that all humans possess.
I see one problem, though: even if such scenarios were possible, there's no guarantee that the Trini super-heroes would be any more effective than their mundane counterparts. Consider:
CudHo Man: The result of a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong, Selwyn C. obtained his powers when scientists tried to combine the DNA of a cow and an Afrocentrist. The intention was to create either a human who could produce chocolate milk or a cow which would insist that white milk was a racist plot to prevent African people from having strong bones and teeth. Instead, the scientists created CudHo Man.
A mild-mannered White professor by day, or whenever he's in America, Selwyn C. transforms into an aggressive Black know-it-all when he visits Trinidad. Possessing four stomachs, he suffers from dyspepsia, constipation, gastric ulcers, and flatulence. This explains his forced smile and general air of irritability. His unique genetic structure gives him the ability to chew his food for days, after which he vomits it out in the form of a horrible mess, usually over Indians. But he only does this for a suitable fee, equivalent to the salary of a Central Bank board member. His mission is to show that no cows are sacred, and bull will always pay.
Hanuman Man: The genesis of Satanand M.'s powers go back to his great-grandfather who, while traversing the kali pani from India to Trinidad, underwent a genetic mutation under the tropical sun which transformed him from a chamar to a brahmin. One hundred years later, the effects of this would be seen when his great-grandson, although born and bred in Trinidad, would speak English with a Hindi accent and Hindi with a large banana daiquiri.
Satanand M.'s father was also a super-hero, with the power to use guns and foul language. As he grew older, Satanand M.'s powers began to manifest. He gained the ability to see racial conspiracies through solid walls, leap dougla children with a single horrified scream, and eat dhalpouri faster than any normal human.
Hanuman Man keeps his secret identity secret by wearing a shirtjac and jowls. This is necessary since, if people knew who he was, they would take him for a monkey. His mission is to eradicate hamburgers and open a McDoubles franchise.
Shortman: Born with a toothy grin, Colm I. gained his powers as he grew &endash; or, rather, didn't. His mother first noticed his unusual abilities when she was baking and Colm I. touched the flour and she ended up making shortbread. As he entered adulthood, he became short-sighted and so entered politics, where he short-changed his constituents. But he compensated for his shortcomings by grinning at everything, including the deaths of babies. His mission is to always wear clean jockey shorts.
Alienman: Born in a galaxy far away, Basdeo P. was sent to Earth when his planet was destroyed by a parasitic oligarchy who turned the sun into a black hole so they could play inter-galactic golf (they needed a fourteenth hole). He has never liked the Theory of Relativity since, although he favours nepotism when concealing foreign bank accounts. The people of Alienman's planet were similar to humans, except that they drank nothing but Johnny Walker Blue and considered it gauche to hold the same opinion for more than two days.
Growing up under the energising rays of a tropical sun, Alienman's metabolism gave him strange powers, like the ability to climb people's backs without a ladder. He is also able to change his appearance to fit whoever he is liming with, though he prefers the company of suspect businessmen and women with ladders in their pantyhose. When he goes out to fight crime, he disguises himself in the garments of his alien forefathers: a dhoti and a turban. In sudden emergencies, he sometimes mixes up the two, which makes the criminals giggle. Alienman's mission is to eradicate racism, especially the kind that prevents him owning million-dollar flats in London.
Born-Again Man: While attending church as a small boy, Patrick M. had a brain seizure. His parents were both overjoyed and worried, since they had never been sure Patrick actually had a brain. A pastor came and prayed for the boy, who recovered completely except that he could never say a whole sentence without including the phrase "Ladies and gentlemen".
It was after this event that Patrick M. discovered he had acquired great powers. He could speak without thinking and think only with the aid of a hard tap. He used the power of shooting off his mouth to fight criminals, and those he couldn't fight he paid to be chauffeurs, community leaders, or just to hang around and say, "You da man!"
As he became older and went to many evangelical meetings, Born-Again Man acquired the power to see the future, and it was always one where the price of oil was high. When his prophecies were wrong, Born-Again Man just borrowed at 15 percent compound interest. He also had the power to never worry about his mistakes since he knew God would provide and, besides, it wasn't his money he was spending. And, with the boy working better than ever, he became father to 1.3 million people, after which he smoked a cigarette. His mission is to fight crime by riding in two cars with a large police escort.
Copyright ©2003 Kevin Baldeosingh