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Sandra Street by Michael Anthony
Michael Anthony was born in 1930 in Mayaro. His father was Nathaniel Anthony and his mother was Eva Jones Lazarus. The young Michael Anthony was brought up in San Fernando in the busy industrial developmental units of Trinidad of that time. He found himself working in the heat and dust of the foundry even as a young boy and this influenced him into thinking of an entirely different sort of occupation for himself. He started thinking of journalism as a viable option but lacked the necessary qualifications for such a job. Michael Anthony soon traveled to England to work towards a Diploma in journalism. In 1963, he managed to produce his first publication called 'The Games were coming' and thereafter there was no looking back for this talented 'giant' among writers of this generation. (Anthony, Michael. "A Giant among Us")
Michael Anthony's Sandra Street is a short story that deals with Steve, a student, who happens to live in Sandra Street. The student is generally unhappy with what he has and also with the place he lives in. He fails to appreciate all of Gods gifts to mankind, such as, the inherent beauty of a blossoming mango flower, and the ageless and timeless beauty of the hills that are the background of his place of abode as well as of his school. Steve, instead, sees the bad side of his companions as well as the street that he lives in -Sandra Street. His teacher, Mr. Blades, reminds him that all this negativity is totally pointless and Steve must be able to appreciate the good around him in order to live a fulfilled and happy life.
The author, Michael Anthony, reinforces the view that people, in general, fail to appreciate what they are actually in possession of; they would prefer to compare themselves unfavorably with others and come up with a lot of unhappiness, something that, if it had been avoided, would have been better. They always want more than they have instead of being satisfied and happy with what they have already. The story opens with the boy, Steve, having handed in his composition on the street where he is living, to his teacher, Mr. Blades. The teacher is a 'composition' enthusiast and he takes much pleasure and delight in handing out topics for composition to the boys of his class every Tuesday. The latest topic having been that of 'Sandra Street', from where a number of boys of the class came to school, since they happened to live there, the teacher now reads out aloud one of the compositions that have been handed in.
One boy, who happened to live on the other side of the town, had criticized Sandra Street by saying that it was very quiet, for one. There was nothing but a school (which the boys went to), and a few houses placed with a lot of distance between each of them. There were, also, according to the boy, a vast wilderness of trees, and the biggest trees of the whole town, maybe even the only trees, were these. They grew on Sandra Street, a street that had nothing to boast of but these formidable trees, and this made Sandra Street almost totally different from the rest of the town, almost like it didn't belong to the town. The boy then proceeds to describe the part of the town in which he is living. He says that the boys who live there can play on the savannah, whereas the boys on Sandra Street can only play on the road, with no big playground like theirs to boast of.
The boy eventually describes Sandra Street as a silly girl who can only run and hide herself in the bushes when threatened. The boys who lived on Sandra Street had written compositions about the beauty of the place, but were not very happy about what the other boy had to say about their street. The teacher, Mr. Blades, is aware of this, and he promises the boys that they would get a chance to write about the other side of the town the very next week. This brings cheer to the lot of boys who live on Sandra Street and they make up their minds to do proper justice to the topic given. However, one boy is dissatisfied with the whole episode. He feels that the teacher is just trying to appease him when he talks about the beauty of Sandra Street. He starts to feel depressed and gives in to melancholy thoughts. He feels that the other boy's composition was, indeed, truthful. He sees Sandra Street now as the boy had seen it, as a place with nothing to commend it.
Steve thinks that the street is actually very quiet, so quiet that the voice of a neighbor calling out to another across a few houses can be heard quite clearly. There were a lot of trees that led to the forest beyond. There was also a river that bordered the forest. There were a few shops, the school where the boys studied, and this was the extent of the whole street. There was absolute quiet and calm and a stillness that even the steel band that played across Sandra Street could not penetrate. Here, at this point, the boy Steve feels that even though he enjoys hearing the melodies of the steel band, he must insist that it is bad since there were no steel bands that played in Sandra Street. He recalls the other boy's composition wherein he says that the women of Sandra Street cannot pass by each other without exchanging a few words; though the boy could not imagine what they talked about, he found if amusing.
Steve, upon reflection, feels that the boy was true in this matter too, as Steve sees the women of Sandra Street talking to each other at every opportunity. What they did talk about, he did not know, but there was a lot of communication between the people of Sandra Street. He makes a statement here where he says that the women of Sandra Street hardly ever left their place to go into town or elsewhere, they were actually, 'independent' of the town. He finds this an amusing fact. While he has been thinking about all this, he has been gazing out at Sandra Street from his window. All of a sudden, he sees his own town for what it actually is; a beautiful place with a lot of trees as well as a river, and timeless hills beyond. It is, actually, his home, as the other side of the town is home to the boy who wrote the composition on Sandra Street. He now realizes that he must fell proud of the fact that he lives on Sandra Street, a quiet, beautiful place that would compare favorably to the other side of the town. The teacher, Mr. Blades approaches
Steve at this point, and startles him out of his reverie. What happens next is an inevitable conclusion to the composition writers' enmity; rival groups of boys from both the other side of town and Sandra Street fight each other in defense of their own homes and streets. But this goes unnoticed by the teacher who invites them to write again on other topics of interest, especially on Sandra Street. Another day arrives and the boy Steve finds himself ruminating again about the various topics of composition that had been written by the boys of his class under Mr. Blades' supervision. The teacher arrives at this point and both stand staring out. Steve finds the hills to be beautiful, but, when he sees his teacher looking at Sandra Street, he starts to feel embarrassed and feels that the paint on the walls of the houses is dirty and that there are no gates or even fences around the houses on the street and this is rather backward when compared to the town.
When the teacher asks him about the gates and Steve answers that he had noticed them as being decrepit before, the teacher loses his temper and says that Steve had not noticed the hills that had been there for centuries and had only noticed insignificant things like there being no gates or fences in Sandra Street. Mr. Blades also points out the mango trees in full blossom that are visible just outside the window and berates him for writing about the noise and dirt of Sandra Street when he could have written about the beauty of the place instead. He criticizes Steve for the lack of 'observation' demonstrated by him in seeing the beauty around him in Sandra Street and also tells him to feel more of love for his place than he is at present demonstrating. He feels that Steve did nothing to defend Sandra Street against adverse comments by his fellow students and this was very wrong of him; when Kenneth wrote about the smallness of Sandra Street,…[continue]
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