PORT OF SPAIN — It was a love thing at Piarco International Airport on Tuesday night as former prime minister Patrick Manning returned home and was mobbed by emotional supporters.
Manning, with the support of a walking stick, made his way through the arrival gates of the airport just before midnight with his wife, Hazel, by his side.
Manning, former political leader of the People’s National Movement, suffered a stroke on January 23 this year at his Vistabella home. He spent a few days at the San Fernando General Hospital and was then flown to Washington DC for further treatment. He then stayed with relatives in the US and continued his rehabilitative process.
Since he left earlier this year, the country has not seen Manning.
Six months later, on his return home, the former prime minister looked visibly different as he seemed to have lost a lot of weight, but his eyes brightened and he smiled joyfully when he saw the overwhelming show of support for him.
There was speculation as to whether Manning would be able to walk and talk again following the stroke. On Wednesday, he walked out of the airport, and although he did not give a speech, he spoke briefly and acknowledged faces he recognised, including some members of the media.
As Manning exited the terminal, about six men and security officers held their hands and formed a circle around him and Mrs Manning to avoid the crowd from toppling them.
With the circle of protection, Manning walked out of the terminal and through the glass doors, a thick crowd following him.
On two occasions, he stopped and tried in vain to say something.
On the second occasion, he kept asking whether the people could hear him. His speech was careful and slow and not as strong as it was before.
His security called for silence. Manning tried to speak, but it was apparent he could not raise his voice loudly for everyone to hear him, so he decided to make his way to the waiting Range Rover. He and Mrs Manning got in the vehicle, and after listening to some women offer their blessings to him for a couple of minutes, the vehicle drove off.
Several women were teary-eyed as they shouted, “God bless you, Manning,” “God heal you, Manning!” (Express)