Horizon at Sandy Point

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Photo album: Khanta Dhanook Ganase

Old photos - black and white, small, even slightly out of focus - have the power to take you back to understand moments in a person's life. If that person is someone as close as a husband or brother, mother or sister, father or son, photos become touchstones for emotional memory. Family photos are place maps you can use to rekindle feelings - how close you were, how happy, how comfortable -  information and remembrance.

Here are some photos from the life of Khanta Dhanook Ganase, the boy from Arima who went to Africa - Ghana and Kenya - and finally settled in  Draguignan France. A chronology is suggested, but each image is its own talking point. Enjoy!

The first is Ganase Dharrie Maharaj, who came from India when the colonial power was recruiting sugar cane workers. He would have arrived in Trinidad in the later decades of 1800s. Legend has it that he simply walked to the docks and got on a ship bound for Trinidad. After his five years' indentureship, he chose to stay in Trinidad. Together with three or four other jahaji brothers, he founded Trinidad's first bus company. He also founded a few branches of Maharajs. His grandson took Ganase as his surname, Khanta Dhanook Ganase. Other branches took Dharrie, and others Maharaj. Ganase lived to 95 years old. This is the story of Khanta's family.(See previous blog post for the fuller story: )

Ganase Dharrie Maharaj, the one who came from India
Khanta's  parents: Dhanook Maharaj and Dukhanee
 The selection of photos of Khanta Dhanook Ganase in his earliest decades are mainly from ID photos. In all of them, he was a man who was always smiling. Here he is as a young man in his twenties, in uniform and a professional in the aviation industry.
The boy from Arima: one of the earliest photos of Khanta: you can see the features of  sons and grandsons.
In his RAF greatcoat, hat at a rakish angle
Kenya Airways?

Khanta at the Eiffel tower 1949: "The two chaps were university mates from UK. They all came touring France by bicyclette in August 1949 and stayed at la cité universitaire in Paris during the summer holiday."

Khanta met Adrienne LeComte, a girl from Versailles, in September 1949 in London. In 1950, she came to Trinidad to marry him.

Those men and their flying machines

In France?

Khanta's pride

Beach beauty

These are photos of Adrienne and Khanta, and their children in Arima and later in Piarco

Before Indra

Arima house

Indra, Rikhi, Ranji, Vidia, Carl, Krishen and Nadine
These photos are in no particular order. You're invited to say what your memories are at those times. Send emails and the information can be added or clarified.

Adrienne with two!

Beach races with Rikhi and Indra

Piarco house with Rikhi, Indra, Vidia, Carl and Ranji

Travelling with Vidia, on the way to see the Statue of Liberty in New York

House in Piarco: Indra, Rikhi, Ranji, Vidia, Carl

Arima house

First two: Indra and Rikhi

First three: Indra, Rikhi and Ranji

Arima house

A backyard with coconut trees: Piarco

At the house in Piarco

At the house in Piarco

The aviation engineer in London and Kenya.

In London with the RAF

Chief engineer and his crew at Kenya Airways
Festive occasion in Kenya

River lime with other Dharrie Maharaj cousins in Trinidad

Adrienne says that Khanta always loved roses. So this rosebush in Draguignan is his tribute and final resting place.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Inward Journey 3

Continuing this interrogation of living with dying: as only the living might do. You should note that this metaphorical language should not be taken for scientific or literal fact.

To paraphrase
Hawking et al
A black hole is a space-time singularity
A dying star of infinite mass
Collapsing upon itself
From which not even light can escape
A place in the universe that is so enigmatic
That it requires a theory
Merging gravity with other fundamental forces of nature.
You can detect the presence of a black hole only by the pull it exerts
Upon giant stars in its event horizon
Inescapably attracted to the invisible heart

To lose a child
However old however young
Is to fall towards a black hole
Inexorably to face our own extinction
Loss so inconsolable
Unimaginable by those
Who have their futures still
Learning to inhabit
A world without imagination
Becomes the event horizon
In which existing continues
Ever in the orbit of this singularity
This inevitable dying alive

Barely alive after surgery
Limbs lie heavy
Groggy slur upon thickened tongue
No wonder, visitors to this wreck of pallid flesh
Unsmiling unanswering unable
Do not return
Terrified as they must be by this inert shade
Of the animate friend companion colleague
Gone beyond the event horizon of the black hole
Inside closed eyes
I feel the tug a gentle passing
To another realm
Easy to let it go
Go into the night, like falling asleep
Freefall, gravity jerks me back:
To lose children in this way
Is to lose the world
That calls me back
To daughter’s embrace
To light on son’s face
To go or not to go...

This body needs blood, declares an angry nurse
Is that all a body needs?
No black hole white light mystery
Just blood

A fortnight since
You came to this bed
You are withdrawing
Into slurred speech gestures
Eyes opening wide but briefly
Is this how we go gently into that good night
No fireworks
Barely a whimper
Should we sing you softly on your way
Allow you to shut down
From exhaustion of inactivity

They say astronauts returning to earth
Have to be taught to walk again
To regain control over muscles
Become unused to gravity
They must be carried from the landing craft
What do angels need returning from earth:
Do they relearn to fly?

To frame these phrases of loss
Is not to make less of pain or grief
But picking at life scabs
To leave indelible cicatrix
Tattoos of remembrance on tough skin

Is dying a fall into a black hole?
Or instead, do we pass through another kind of hole in the universe?
A wormhole

A wormhole unlike a black hole
Also called an Einstein-Rosen bridge
is a hypothetical topographical feature that might be a shortcut
Connecting two separate and distant points in space time
Pathway to an alternate universe
Maybe there is a heaven after all
Somewhere above the sky
Where we’ll meet on the other side
By and by!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Inward Journey 2

Another few chapters of intense feeling, and maybe, this writing will be done. Hopefully, it will not become a habit; we will not become addicts to this word-mongering!


My father lived without major illness or accident
Most of his life
Worked and played harder
Gusto in every endeavor
Farmer fisherman traveller
Someone who so loved to feed his family
And to eat heartily
Struck down by bilious poor digestion
Plagued by ulcers til they were incurable
He stomached them all
Forcing feeling down
Swallowing to quell the burning
A core of existence in flames
Explodes in a million searing suns
Spews hordes of memories yearnings desires
Into a sea of morphine dreams
Extinguishes the stars

Losing a husband
After 70 years
Must be like losing that fifth sense
That keeps you treading water
In a rising tide
The heart lurches on
Involuntary propulsion
Through a sea of faces and places
Time divided by this watershed
Another life shed
70 years of coupling uncoupled
The sky shifts
Glaciers melt
Tears fill the valley
Mainstay and mooring disappear
Loss is the pole star

Pain puckers the brow
Headaches unrelieved
No ginger, tiger balm, acupuncture
Soursop leaf tea
To cure a life lived pure
Now become a novitiate
To life's last drug
Composes the features
Fists unclench
Eyes open
Smiles play at lips relaxing
There’s an awakening they say
When a body will sit up take food talk
As if the rest was merely a dream
Something miraculous is happening
Some change is coming

You came home that night
Fell out of the shower
Met the immoveable unbreakable
Shattering the upper arm in a million fragments
Or three
Just lie me down til tomorrow
Jagged loose broken tile inside a sack of skin
Can break the unbroken
Unglue the undemented mind:
Immobility may be a response
Pain must be the answer
No living without pain
No pain but lets us know 
how we are alive

Friday, October 14, 2016

Inward journeys

Perhaps I haven't written much this year because many things I want to say might be perceived as darker. Morbid mom, too morbid! Well, comes a time when you have to say and be damned. So here goes. This is the start of a small series, written in a different form. Let me know what you think.

Passages and lines inspired by a cousin who is walking her own walk now

Living with diabetes
My mother
Was always taking pills, at specific times,
Before meals, at the end of the day…
Routine to regulate sugar
Too sweet her blood may be
But acrid the tongue
Retorts like the tail of the scorpion
Scorpio she was
She had our respect, maybe love too
Tough love at the end of the day
Making women of us
All of us, with a little mother’s clay
Could we say that she died of diabetes?
Complications of a condition
Compounded by a broken heart.

Breast cancer
They told my little cousin
A daughter’s age
Two years ago she gave up both breasts
Took back her life
Now here she lies on white sheets in a place called Vitas
Refuge for body and soul's ease
No cell
But a sentence:
Something migrated to the brain

The hospital bed
Becomes a land of counterpane
Room for reflection
Untravelled space
meditation mat
where prison is a brain racked with pain
Here she conserves inward
For outside is a phalanx of people
Pity comes unbidden to their faces
How much time until time becomes irrelevant
How little time to reach the otherwise unknowable

Let us take comfort in death’s presence
Come, sit, we may not speak
Death smiles:
Let long silences fill our companionship.
Be not afraid it whispers
Come let’s be on a new adventure
Precipice and watershed
Shall we call it lifeshed
Trust trust trust the footing you cannot see
Open the heart to new suns moons nebulae
“We are stardust we are golden”
Old language falls away.
We can be friends, death says
Even as we walk these miles
Not to the end, just a walk on the milky way
No one knows the distance like I do
Death says
Stepping on stars scattered like the scans of your brain
Trust, and I will bring you safely home