In need of an orthopaedic cushion, I headed to AA Laquis in the Gulf City Lowlands Mall – “the” place in Tobago for such supplies.
Upon arrival at the mall I was shocked to find the former AA Laquis location empty. The notice on the door thanked valued customers, said that it was a pleasure to have served Tobago for X number of years and that if in need of their products, we could shop at any of their outlets (all in Trinidad) or order online.
I inquired via phone about ordering online and was told it would take two weeks to ship large items and that small ones could be sent via TTPost (which, in my experience, sometimes takes so long that it feels like two weeks – instead of the promised “in approximately two working days”).
Thankfully, I went to Trinidad a few days later and was able to get the item there.
Upon returning to “TAB,” I was met by the inevitable, mere feet from the exit of Tobago Arrivals. I say “the inevitable” because (as most of my friends tell me) “Your eyes are programmed to see animals in distress – no matter how small, far away or hidden they may be.”
As the vehicle (driven by my friend who collected me) pulled off, I noticed a small black creature on the pitch, seemingly dead. A rat? No – it was a dark-coloured kitten. A few feet from it was a blonde kitten. Something was amiss.
I asked my friend to stop the car then hopped out to check on if they were alive, and to move them from the path of oncoming vehicles. What a miracle that they had not been crushed – and a mystery that no one else had seen them and, if they had, moved them.
Picking up the dark one, I realised it was alive. It was newborn, tinier than my palm, eyes still closed, umbilical cord attached and dry. The blonde one was in bad condition – one bulbous eye hanging out of its socket, mouth bloody and something white oozing from its back.
By the time I got home, the blonde one was dead. The dark tabby was very much alive, crying and hungry. I drove quickly to Orange Hill Nature Ranch for goat milk, with which to feed the kitten, using nursing bottles designed for young animals.
Such young animals must be kept warm at all times. For this, I have always used a rubber hot water bottle. Discovering that mine had dry-rotted and was leaking, I decided (rather than use regular bottles filled with hot water) to purchase a new one. Simple enough.
At the first drugstore I visited, I asked for a hot water bottle and was led to a display of baby bottles.
“These are all we have right now,” the attendant said, apparently not knowing what a hot water bottle is.
Another attendant, overhearing and knowing what I wanted, said: “AA Laquis will have it.”
“They are no longer in Tobago,” I said, much to her surprise.
At another drugstore the attendant also did not know what I meant by a hot water bottle – leading me to wonder if the item goes by a different name in Tobago. After trying to explain what it is, I was told that they sell microwavable hot packs. Since I do not have a microwave, that option was ruled out. Plus, I specifically wanted a hot water bottle.
At another establishment, when the cashier told me to go to AA Laquis, her co-worker informed her (much to her shock): “Laquis move out from Tobago!”
“Oh! Well then you will get such an item in Trinidad,” the cashier told me.
I turned to Facebook, asking if anyone knew where I could get a hot water bottle – only to discover that others on the island had also not been able to source that very basic item, even at more popular stores that seemingly sell “everything.”
Various respondents spoke of the traditional red rubber hot water bottles as a thing of the past. Microwavable packs and electric heating pads are the ‘hot’ thing right now.
“How sad and disappointing when commonplace things become unknown,” one friend lamented.
Indeed, it feels like something is lost in the modern world’s so-called “evolution” from the “commonplace” hot water bottle. Even symbolically … in the quest for quick convenience, let us not lose touch with good old fashioned warmth, once known the world over, and as a part of so many homes.
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