It was around 1946 when this young life took its first serious turn. ‡My father wasn’t so young and able-bodied anymore. His eyesight was all but diminished, his health began to turn and he was no longer able to work and support us.
Due to a large family and my brother baring sole support of this family, I had to help him any way possible to bring in an income. Unfortunately I was unable to complete my education. School was not free and that was the end of that. I became my brother’s assistant in selling his handcrafted wares.
I loved to fly a good kite and between the ages of 1o-11, I began to make them. At the suggestion of my mama (maternal uncle) who said to me, “Why not make lots of kites and try selling them in my shop?” I did. I turned out a couple dozen.
The first time I began my entrepreneurial trek towards my mama’s ºdukan, I was intercepted by a group of naughty troublemaking boys along the way. They ganged up grabbing me at first, then I was pushed down to the ground, they seized all of my kites and darted off in a dash of dust!
As soon as I was able I got up and ran home with wounded pride and empty hands. I arrived sweaty, dusty and it was with tear-filled eyes that I desperately tried to describe my unexpected experience.
A week later I had more kites made and this time my father escorted me with my delivery to the dukaan. He walked tall and proud with his limited sight, his ººlakari dunda and no one bothered me, you can be sure. We walked the same way and again those boys were there playing. They noticed me it’s certain but none dared approach me now!
I once had a delightful German Shepherd Dog. He was just a sweet little pup when I got him; so very playful and curious like me, though I thought for some reason a bit devilish and so I named him Devil. To me he had the most beautiful face.
When he was small, as he drank milk from his bowl, his tummy would get really round! Then when he’d had enough and was feeling drunkenly full, he’d take a few steps with his short little legs. These stub-like legs did not serve him well with a tummy that round and he’d find himself rolling down the grassy slope of the yard at the side of the house.
I would go down the little hill, fetch him back up and he’d return to his milk bowl. All that rolling must’ve made him thirsty! He’d of course end up rolling back down again; I think we’re playing a game of fetch but I’m the one fetching! **Finally I said to him, “Pagala, you just stay there till your milk tummy is small again!”
‡My father never in all his life had he seen a doctor, not until his very last day
º dukan Hindi for shop [grocery]
ºº lakari dunda is Fiji-Hindi for wooden walking stick
**pagala Hindi for crazy