Permission Please | Yuh is ah Trini

Triniglish|Trinididioms spoken and explained #71
Yuh is ah Trini|"Permission Please"

One thing that children who grew up in the islands during the 60's, 70's and  80's know and remember to this day is licks! We got licks for any reason and most times without reason. If, when getting licks during spelling drills, you did not cry or show that the blows mattered the teacher added strokes until you were literally vanquished. The learning process took on its own meaning and the licks that were meant to 'motivate' the students to get it right simply scared the hell out of children and removed any joy or desire to attend school. Yes, if you are smiling (I am wondering why) because you can recall those days in school then you have passed the test and can proudly say that "Yuh is ah Trini!". 

School days were memorable indeed but most of the memories were that of licks or good memories of student teachers playing guitars and singing "Michael row the boat ashore" or some of the patriotic national songs that are unknown to children today. Well for this posting I want to help you recall something that we all did during class. The act of asking for permission to leave to use the bathroom or to simply speak during class had to be done by first asking for "permission please".

Permission sir or permission miss had to be said but with that also came a very unique and formal way of expressing your desire to get the teacher's attention. First one had to stand at attention and make a fist, then   just like a military salute extend your index finger across ones forehead and say, "permission please". Some children also extended both the index and middle finger instead of the pointer finger only. Now after standing in this position for a while (in retrospect if felt like forever) came the anxiety... a decision was forthcoming. If the answer was "no" then there was disappointment and the a hard seat awaited after the answer that was a  disappointment. Then there was the flip side when permission was granted and with that came a sense of accomplishment especially if it meant leaving the classroom for a few minutes. Sometimes even when permission was granted but you took too long to return to the classroom out came the whip and after a few strokes one was left wondering what the hell happened?

Now that I recall those days I consider the act of asking for permission, especially with the semi military style salute to the teacher, I cannot help but smile and even wonder where did that silly salute start. Of course the obvious conclusion would be to blame the colonial masters for the implementation of that gesture. However, taking into consideration that the US military also had a significant presence in Trinidad it could be that the locals adopted the practice from the American military. If you have an idea or know how the gesture originated then please leave a note that could add to or resolve the origin of the gesture to salute while asking for permission from the primary school  teacher (primary school - standards 1 through 7) .

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