Earlier today, after pulling many strings I considered myself very fortunate indeed to be granted last-minute immediate appointments to get the new electronic birth certificates that Trinidad now uses, in preparation for an unheard of appointment tomorrow at 8am to apply for the equally new ‘readable’ passport. So, I took my happy, somewhat-at-times spoiled ass down to the office, ignored all the stares that resulted from both my hair and special treatment and walked up to the window to handle what should have been routine at best business. Nope; this is Trinidad!
For the past forty-something-odd years, I have been (erroneously, it seems) celebrating my date of birth on November 18th. Today, thanks to the slip of someone’s hand, we will now have to move that date up a notch – yep ladies and gentlemen, I am now the holder of a brand-spanking-new electronic birth certificate saying that I entered this world on November 17th! WTF?! I shit you not! Never before have I ever encountered a conversation, seen any documentation that indicated there was ever any discrepancy associated with my date of birth! Oh… and it seems that the passport I currently hold, which could NOT have been issued without the birth certificate I have always used as proof of my existence and that my parents were actually mine, will not be sufficient to correct this error! Wow!
So as I am now embroiled in this conundrum, I, for the first time, am faced with the reality that so many have encountered in varying degrees – having to prove or disprove an aspect of their reality – their history. As I sit with the frustration of having to put my hand on records that pre-date computers, I cannot help but to now acknowledge how victims of identity theft must feel. I highlight this example because for the first time, I too have to find a way to prove to someone/a nation/ a state that the truth of who I am and what I have, until now, taken for granted, is indeed accurate. I, like them, have to validate an existence and disprove someone else’s mistake.
Until today, I have never realized how important it is to me that everything, every.fucking.thing. that I know about myself, my history, my existence, is unsullied and protected! Every day of my life thus far, I have woken up knowing a few certainties about myself: (1) my name (not to be confused with the names I’ve been called in moments of anger, passion or envy, (2) my heritage – who my ‘people’ are, (3) my age – celebrated every year on the same date, (4) how and who I love, (5) how and who I serve. Certainties. This snafu, which some may consider minor or simply an irritant, has for me, brought to the forefront the ease with which our sense of ‘self’ can be affected.
So, I am now the proud owner of a birth certificate that bears the birth date of someone I do not know. To have it corrected to again reflect what I have lived for the past some-odd-years will take quite a bit of jumping through hoops; but jump I will. Protecting one’s identity, the components that one has either been born into or has assimilated along life’s journey, should never be trivialized. I want my date back! MY date! I was born on November 18th; and I will be damned if I allow some bureaucratic incompetence to strip me of that absolute!