Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boy from India

It's the latter part of the 1800s. Another boy walks away from wrenching poverty. He walks across India to a wharf where a wooden boat rocks at anchor. There's more water here than he has ever seen in his life. Barely 16, thin and hopeful, he squats on his heels and watches the endless ocean. There's land on the other side he's heard. Small islands where sugar cane, coffee, cocoa are being planted. The work is hard, the estate owners unrelenting. But at the end of the day, there's naan and more. Behind him, there's nothing to hope for.

He finds the labour office, a man at a small desk and gives a family name, Maharaj. Yes, he's 16, old enough to be his own man.

On the boat,  he is young and able enough to make himself useful, not to become seasick. The boat is an island on kalapani, and rolls incessantly, but it's a rhythm that rocks him to sleep at night. He joins others in puja, shares their food and storytelling. The days are fair. The nights full of stars. One day, the wind changes, there's a smell that brings back memories of dark rivers and deep jungle. Land is near. In Trinidad, they are quarantined on an ark of an island before being released to the work assignments.

Many many years later, Aja looks at strong sons and many grand-children, even greats, and wonders if he's still that boy who dared to walk across a continent for bread and freedom. Or maybe he doesn't. He pulls up his dhoti, crosses his legs and smiles.

1 comment:

  1. A fiction on arrivals from India - the boy who would be the great grand father, the ancestor of the Ganase clan, Nelika, whose blood runs in your veins.

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