AS TOLD TO BC PIRES
My name is Rishi Deosaran and growing up with a twin brother has been one of my life’s most important forces.
My brother and only sibling, Akash, and I were born early on Ash Wednesday morning, March 8, 2000, which is ironic. Because we grew up in a pretty conservative household and never got to play mas.
Akash is two minutes older.
Until we were eight, we lived in a small townhouse next to the University of the West Indies sports grounds but my dad’s dream was always to have his own house and he did it, in Santa Cruz, when I was nine.
That lush green valley and its soothing natural soundscapes is where I really consider “home.” Santa Cruz, the place, nurtured me; in St. Augustine it was my family that did the nurturing.
I live now in Kingston upon Thames in England, a little gem in Greater London. Rel (sic) quiet, rel friendly, rel cold.
But the biggest thing for me is that it’s right by the river (Thames). And the river just makes me calm.
I spend my evenings there when it’s not too miserable out. Study, read, sometimes watch the sunset…at 4 or 5 pm!
At Curepe Presbyterian Primary School, it had a big savannah, where, during recess, we used to play everything from pitch to football to sky-high. That’s when we started getting rel competitive.
He was always just slightly better than me, slightly faster, slightly smarter, slightly better at football and slightly taller. Akash studies astrophysics, eg, while I study environmental science.
Later on, I realised we make up for each other’s weak spots but, in childhood, I was just jealous.
We both passed for St Mary’s College, but Akash came in the top 200 in the country.
He went to some awards ceremony at Centre of Excellence. I tagged along because I wanted to feel special, too.
Joe Cazabon, who taught me environmental science at CIC, pretty much put me on my career path today.
From age 12 to 14, my brother, my mom and myself lived with her parents while my parents were sorting through a mutual and amicable divorce.
After very long suffering with Alzheimers and Parkinson’s diseases, my mom’s father passed away when I was around 14. I witnessed first-hand his deterioration. To see someone who lived their whole life, lose their memories of it (instilled) one of my biggest fears: forgetting the people that make my life what it is, those I promised I’d be ever grateful.
I study environmental science because I want my children to play in the same forests and go to the same beaches, rivers or waterfalls (that I did). Nature taught me compassion and empathy and its grandeur humbled me. Above all, I looked to it for comfort.
If he or she could not experience all those gifts, would I want to bring another life into an economically, socially and climactically harsher world?
I think the answer is yes. To live and learn, and then help another learn to live is a beautiful privilege.
We are fraternal twins.
If one of us was getting licks, we would try our best to make sure the other one got licks, too.
Unfortunately, unlike real life, the lighter-skinned child (me) didn’t get away.
But I’d argue that collective suffering is less painful.
Akash and I never really competed for girls. We weren’t big sagaboys.
We were raised Catholic and went to church somewhat regularly when we were little. It was awful.
My mother’s family are Hindus and Akash and I (grew up wearing) both dress shirts and kurtas.
It’s been a while since I went to a “prayers” but I do like going to temples. They have wonderful energy.
I would say I am still a believer. In my times of need, I’ve turned to someone, something and found solace.
I’d like to believe that there’s an afterlife. I can’t fathom nothingness.
Are you familiar with the golden orange hue of some sunrises? When, early in the morning, that hue collides with the deep verdant greens of trees and leaves, well, that is my favourite colour.
It is a byproduct of the most important process in the world, photosynthesis, one of the foundations of biological life on our planet. It feels maternal, lifegiving and warm.
My favourite book is probably Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
I finished it in a week and read it again the next week.
I have many favourite poets/songwriters. Bob Dylan, David Berman, Mark Kozelek, Dan Bejar, Bill Callahan, Will Toledo, Nick Drake and David Byrne, to name but a few.
I’m just not good at picking favourites.
My favourite film is the original Blade Runner.
Everything about that movie, from the soundtrack (by one of my favourite musicians, Vangelis), to the final line, delivered by Rutger Hauer, on a rooftop in the rain, half-naked: “All those moments will be lost in time…like tears in rain.”
It always gives me goosebumps because the idea of all the beautiful moments in my life being lost is one of my biggest fears. Memories fade, and people do, too.
How lucky I am, to live and love, and to learn from the precious individuals around me, all of whom make me me.
I have always liked soca, but actively enjoying it (came only) after moving to England, when my appreciation of music and art from home deepened.
I relied on it heavily to give myself some form of identity. Those songs have become soundtracks to some of my most fond memories and friends.
“Trinidadian” is a concept I’ve only recently had to grapple with.
One Friday, sitting by the river, listening to music with a friend with beers in hand, I suddenly I felt like I was home again. I felt like Rishi.
Not Rishi the Trinidadian in England. Just Rishi.
I didn’t feel I had to act a certain way or be a certain how, I was just authentically myself. And that, to me, is what makes you a Trini: to be authentic to yourself.
My friends mean so much to me because I believe they made me who I am today. I would be nothing without them.
This sentiment is ten times truer for Trinidad and Tobago.
From the moment I set my mind on studying in England, I knew I was studying it so that I could come home and help make a difference, improve, contribute. Be the reason someone else realised how grateful they should be to live in Trinidad and Tobago.
Without Trinidad and Tobago, I am not Rishi.
Read the full version of this feature on Saturday at www.BCPires.com