I stalled in writing but had written this earlier when I had started my “spiritual biography”. This is an exert from what I had written.
I was 13 years of age and mama took me to the doctor because I would have pain in my legs. The doctor listened to my heart and heard a murmur. He said I possibly had rheumatic fever and that left me with a murmur of the heart. I was sent to the hospital for more specialized doctors to take a look at me. There was no modern tools like now. The doctors only listened with a stethoscope. I was hospitalized for a few days and the heart specialist doctor sent me to a convalescent home for children where I spent about 6 weeks. I remember my mom crying when she heard the news that I was suffering with a heart murmur and my father was concerned. My whole family was sad.
During my stay at the hospital I had to stay in the cardiac ward and was in the same room with about 10 people(females), and was the only young person there. One day this elderly lady obliquely opposite me died heart failure. I was terrified. They closed her off with curtains but I was scared of her being a ghost and seeing her. She was a senior lady with gray hair and my imagination of what she would look like as a ghost was most definitely occupying my mind. That was one of the longest night for me. The ward was semi-dark as the nurses would turn most of the lights out. I had to pee but was so afraid to come out of my bed and walk down the hall. It took a lot of courage to do so. I dashed to the bathroom saying to myself I will not be afraid although I can feel the fear sensations in me. I said “God please help me, please take away my fear”I thought of death and wondered “was I going to die?” This must be serious for them to put me with these severely ill people.
The Convalescent Home
At the convalescent home I made friends with some girls my age and there were other kids who were more ill than me. It was a very long room with multiple beds side by side. The food was terrible and I missed home and school and I stayed there for 6 long weeks. We had breakfast, lunch, tea time at 4 pm and dinner at wound 5:30 or 6 p.m. The most terrible thing I had to eat was liver(i think cow liver). They made us eat it. Being from a Hindu home this was not something we would never eat I did not even know that it was a very strict thing to not eat this because this was not discussed at home. I was not very learned about it and did not want to go hungry. Tea time at 4pm heralded the worst sweet bread you could eat. Sometimes the they would bring soup and I would still be hungry after eating it. One day my friend Latchmi (who was 16 and the eldest patient there)in the bed next to me, traded my soup for hers. Her bowl had more food than mine. I was happy to trade but I did not know that she suffered from kidney disease and could not have salt. She was fed up of no salt and that’s why she traded. I was stupid to do so but did not know any better. I just know that I was going to be full and she was my friend so we traded.
My mother, family members, villagers and relatives visited as often as possible and I looked forward to their visits and the oranges and bananas they would bring. Mama always hugged me and I know she wanted to cry. I don’t remember specifically all who visited me but I do remember one particular visitor. It was Bhagwan – who years later would become my husband. I was surprised by his visit because he was my brothers’s friends. My brothers and their friends would usually hang out in the front of my house on a bench so everyone was concerned about my well being. I was shy at 13, and he would have been 18 so there was not a romantic thing or sort but I was intrigued by his visit. I felt that he was the smartest boy in the village and he came to see me and that felt tingly or exciting. Many years later after we were married I asked him what did he feel then. He said he just felt sad about the situation and thought that I was a such a very nice, beautiful girl for this to have happened to. 🙂
When I was released it took me a long time to catch up with school work. I think I was in form 2 or 3 in school. At the time I felt like crying because I prided myself in doing well at school. I had to attend the heart clinic every 3 months for them to check my heart and get an injection every month. My butt was always sore. Sometimes I had to put a hot rag to help ease the pain. It was a rather big needle and I could feel the “Penudu – penicillin” seep into my body. I took injections every month until I was 17- 18 years of age. One day while at the heart clinic at the hospital, I met the parents of Latchmi from the convalescent home. She had passed away. I felt sad.
The doctor told me not to do any strenuous activity. As a result I did not take part in sports( in school they called it Physical Education) and had a note from the doctor to give to the school. My mom never give me too much work. I heard from my aunts recently and they said that my mom always said that I was a ‘delicate’ child. This is why she must have said it.
When my husband came to ask for my hand in marriage, my mom told him I could not do “hard work” meaning not too much strenuous work. My husband said that he would buy a washing machine for me and take care of me. In those days many people in Trinidad did not have washers and dryers.
Many years later after having my 2 kids and coming to the USA at my visit to the doctor – he said that there is no murmur. My heart is perfectly healthy 🙂
Thus I grew up thinking about life, death and God and wondered about such things.
My past life adventures will continue when I get the writing bug again but I had most of this written already so just decided to share today.
Everything in our lives is the exchange of energy. It is what we do with our energy that drives our world.
As we eat an apple, it soon becomes a part of us. So whatever we eat each day is always becoming part or who we are. The apple tree bore apples because it got the nutrition all the elements of nature. So the tree was necessary to convert the elements to food for our digestive system. According to the science of Ayurveda, every food has a hidden nature and eating the right kind of food for our nature helps us.
Similarly as someone says some kind or angry words to us it becomes part of us. For example if someone says they love you, energies or impulses move within you and there’s a kind of feeling in the heart. The subtle body records this and it becomes part of you. There was a certain energy being given by the person who created the words that got transferred to you.
So just imagine if they said that they hated you. This would have created chaotic energy within you and you could have easily reacted and passed this on to someone else.
When we look at a flower we get a beautiful feeling from the flower. So the energy that created the flower, has been received maybe in terms of its color, beauty or fragrance. We are receiving the intelligent and beautiful energy of the creator. It is why we use flowers for wedding, funerals, pujas, for any beautiful occasion or to patch a quarrel.
Another way that energy is exchanged is through sounds. Hearing a song on the radio soon becomes part of you. You might soon begin hearing it within you when you are not even listening. Do you see how our brain and nervous system works. Everything and everyone gives and receive energy.
Different kinds of music affects our brain and nervous system. We all know about the effect of classical music. The energy of exchange is in the sound itself.
Mantras go at deeper level to affect us also. The way and feeling and pronunciation of the mantra also causes a different kind of energy to be exchanged in the human body. Did you know you can actually feel the effect. Since it is sound it works on a similar but not the same to music.
When we sing kirtan or gospel or songs to God there is an exchange here also. We connect with the person singing but we connect with each other through our emotions and our connection and ideology of praising God together. We exchange good energy together. Kirtan combines the emotion with some of the words of mantras or names of God having a more profound effect in the subtle layer.
Scientists have now found that water holds memory. Good thoughts of love and gratitude changes the subtle energy of the water beautifully, while hate or negative thoughts creates some ugly looking energy. You can see the movie “Secret of Water” or catch stuff on the internet. The ancients knew about blessing food and water.
So the whole universe came into being just for us to exchange energies with it and we can never be separated because we need the whole universe(which includes us). This is the creation of the Divine. This is the immutability and the infinity of the Divine.
The ability to take this life and NOT create chaotic energy in the world is your challenge. The only thing that energy cannot change is the soul. This is your vehicle to live and experience this world through all it’s rough and happy times. Let us use our resources and our expressions wisely.
This seems a good place to describe Christmas since it’s Christmas time now in 2020.
At Christmas time we enjoyed similar food like what’s on our Sunday menu, with the added things like macaroni pie and homemade cake. It was the only time we had a case or 2 of soft drinks(soda). We got a whole 12 oz soda to drink by ourselves and did not have to share with each other. We even bought these non-alcoholic drinks called “Cydrax’ or “Peardrax”. We got apples and sometimes grapes. Later when I was in my late teens, I remember we would have the nuts that you have to crack like we have nowadays.
On Christmas eve, Mama would make these cakes with the eggs from our chickens and it was the best tasting homemade cake. I tried making this cake here but it never tastes the same because of the eggs. The yellow of the eggs we had was much more yellow than the ones I have bought in the past in the grocery store here.
Does anyone remember a baking drum?
Before we had a stove mama used to bake in this baking drum. My father had to cut it out. I found this picture on the internet.
It was similar to this except it only had one section cut out to bake in – not 2 layers like this one. At the bottom is what you call a coalpot. This was used for cooking in the older days. You load it with coals and light it up. At the top of the drum we used coconut shells and wood to light a fire. So, this was done in the yard and not indoors. Of course, I was very small when we had this. We just had a table top gas stove and when I was around 13, we got a gas stove with an oven similar to modern times.
Christmas throughout the years changed. In my teenage years I remember this great fruitcake that mama would make. You had to soak dried fruits like raisins and mixed lemon and lime peel in wine for a few days before you made the cake. I think people add other kinds of alcohol to make.
I remember being very happy at Christmas time. In elementary school we had “treat” day. On the last day of school before the holiday season was a great day at school. You get to wear a dress instead of the standard uniform and the school would give each student this brown bag with the following – an apple, a balloon, a squeaky little finger toy that made noise when you press it and 1 candy. Sometimes there were students who were absent quite a lot but they would show up on treat day. Lol. Apples were a treat because it was imported and not affordable by many people.
The members of the church would come around caroling in and it was fun to see them sing the Christmas carols. My mother liked it and would give them a few coins as a donation but my father of course did not like it. We all learned carols and was always singing at home. Throughout the Christmas season the two radio stations played a lot of Christmas music and most people on the island always had their radios on. Besides American Christmas classics there was parang music and local calypso type Christmas music. You would find yourself humming around the house “Silent night”, “I’ll be home for Christmas”, “the 12 days of Christmas”, “Parang, parang, parang”, “Drink ah rum and ah punch ah creamer” (lol) and many others. I loved Christmas time.
We did not grow up with a lot of toys since money was scarce but I do remember getting a plastic tea set on two different Christmases. Mama would ask me what I want and I did not know what to get because we did not know the array of toys that the stores carried. It would appear Christmas morning on the net(we had a net to keep out mosquitos over the bed). She said Santa Claus brought it but I had doubts. I enjoyed putting soda and cake in that set and eating and drinking from it. My sisters could have gotten similar and also dolls. My brothers could have gotten a toy gun and sack or a little truck or car. Sean says he remembers getting toy soldiers. As I grew older it was fun stuffing all kinds of stuff into the sock that my smallest brother Sean would hang up for Santa Claus to fill. He believed and it was so much fun.
When my sisters and I were teenagers, we would hang up balloons for decoration. This was common among some villagers. My mother would sew new curtains and would buy a new plastic table cloth. So, the house had a different smell. It smelled of the plastic, apples and new curtains. We might put some kind of trinket on the table and everything looked and smelled so nice. Some people did cut the branches of a tree and decorated it and put the lights up. We did not have a Christmas tree until I was about 21 years of age and working and able to buy one. The house would be so sparkling, so new, smelling so great. It is one of my most cherished memories of Christmas.
So, it was a beautiful time but there were some disturbances. Throughout the years my father would sometimes come home drunk and pull all the new curtains down and quarrel. Our Christmas mood would be gone. Tears would come to my eyes. My mother worked so hard to make it a wonderful Christmas.
The time I drank whiskey.
My brothers were in their early twenties I was around 19 years of age. On Christmas eve or Christmas day my brothers Chunka and Toyer would hang with their friends in the village and visit each other’s house. There they would have a drink with whatever that house had to offer. It was mostly whiskey or “Old Oak” rum. They would eat fruit cake or cookies etc. Some of them would play a guitar, hit a bottle and spoon(to make music) and they would sing parang and have a merry time. They would also sing “we wish you a Merry Christmas”. So, you could imagine that after visiting a few houses they would eventually have one too many. That was there way of enjoying Christmas.
I remember one year, the girls in the village who were really the sisters of my brother’s friends did something similar. We just went to Droee’s house (a cousin that lived next door) and we had whiskey with coconut water added to it. (That was a favorite drink on the island). I had never drunk alcohol so only after one or two drinks it was too much for me. The strange thing is I started talking with an American accent. Lol. I felt what you called “tipsy”. I did not really like the taste of alcohol and it did not make me feel happy. In later years I did taste a beer but did not like that either. So, I never do alcohol. My brothers picked up smoking cigarettes but I never did.
Christmas times holds different memories for everyone in life as the whole world is touched by the celebrations one way or another.
Will probably write about when my eldest brother left to make his way to America and a few other occurrences. We will see what is coming:-)
It’s been a while since I last wrote so this first paragraph is just a reminder for everyone reading.
Before I continue, I only now realize that others reading may be part of the events that I write about. This is how I saw things so don’t put too much into it if you saw it in a different way. The object of this little story is to write about my life and not justify, accuse or prove anything. We cannot be ashamed of our past because it is part of what shaped us. Our inner strengths and weaknesses are always tested in life. If we had the story of our ancestors from them, themselves about life, now that would be a treat. So this is for my children.
The Grater Incident
I wrote so much about my father already but I have one more incident to talk about because I don’t know how I can connect later in the story.
I remember my father making my sister Betsy kneel down on a grater. Yes! a grater that you grated food on. The grater we had was huge and not in the way they are made nowadays. In those days they were huge and made differently. I found a picture.
I remember that my mother was not at home and Vady, Sean and I were halfway crying and asking him to stop. We were helpless. Betsy knelt down on it and we kept begging papa to stop. She was there on it for a few minutes and we saw the bruise after. I recently spoke to my sister because I could not remember why he did it. She said because she did not know her times table. We all had good grades but she said she did not. That was how scary growing up was at times.
On to more lighter things.
What foods did you grow up with?
Throughout the years we bought all foodstuff but supplemented with growing our own rice for 1 or 2 years and when I was in high school, I remember my mother growing a vegetable garden in Dow Village where her parents were growing theirs. I don’t know the logistics of the land ownership.
I remember the rice field. I loved to go there and wade in the water and look for snails(we called them conchs). All us kids looked for snails and looked out for crabs. There were some scary times when villagers said that an alligator was spotted on some other villager’s rice field. So, I was weary about that. It was also very lonely and looked dreary when there were no other villagers tending to their rice fields. It was a large empty space with many rice fields extending outwards and surrounded by large trees and brush. It looked like you were in the middle of nowhere.
My mother did not want me to go and help although I begged her so I only went a few times. She said that I would get sick. My aunts told me that my mother said that I was a ‘delicate’ child. Anyways my brothers got to go. I had to stay home and I remember I had to cook dhal at 12yrs. Mama would not let me cook the rice because you had to strain it without a strainer. With the dahl made, it was easy to make rice when she got home because everyone would be hungry. The rice field was not too far. You had to walk maybe about 2 miles from the back of the house.
When the rice was picked it had to be beaten on the ground to dislodge the grains. Then it had to be dried in the sun. To lay it out flat these hemp bags (gotten from purchasing something was ripped apart and was like a small sheet). We had this huge wooden box to store the rice once it was dried. The rice was then taken to mill to have the outer shell removed, in portions as needed. It was hard work so my parents only did this maybe for a few seasons. The rest of the time we bought rice.
Early on we did not have a refrigerator and when we did have one, there was not much leftovers (if any) to be stored. It was just to store butter or vegetables and have ice. Our meals were always freshly cooked. For breakfast and dinner, it was roti and some kind of vegetable-curried or stir fried. For lunch it was rice, split peas dhal and some kind of vegetable.
On Sundays we had red beans or lentils instead of split peas dhal sometimes. We would also have curried chicken. Eventually as we got older my mom had time to make dhalpouri roti’s on Sundays. So on Sundays was our big meal:- for breakfast dhalpouri roti and curried channa(garbanzo beans) and aloo(potatoes), for lunch curried or stew chicken, Chinese style fried rice and red kidney beans. We would not have salad as it is done here. We would have a leaf of lettuce with a few pieces of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
I must admit that the job of helping cook dhalpouri roti throughout my teenage years made me really proficient in making a really good dhalpouri 😊.
So on Sundays was a lazy day after a heavy meal. We did not do much chores – just fight to get hold of the comic section of the newspaper while father was reading the other parts.
In elementary school we came home for lunch but in high school we took our lunch. So, we would take to school whatever we had for breakfast. The vegetable was stuffed into a “sadaa” roti(which is kind of roti like a pita bread). So, we could not take anything that had a gravy. Some of the favorites were fried potatoes or fried “moko” or plantain. For my readers who are not familiar “moko” is a kind of banana similar to plantain. When it was ripe you sliced and fried it. There are many kinds of bananas just as there are many kinds of apples. Some kinds of bananas were boiled when ripe and fried and some kinds was used green – sliced thinly and cooked and eaten with rice or roti. I remember we had one of those banana trees. Many villagers would have all kinds of banana trees.
Sometimes we would get money to buy a soda at school. Only once or twice I bought lunch at “Archie Shop”. It was a shop close to the Vessigny Secondary School. It was crowded at lunchtime with half the school. Sean, remembers enjoying bread and cheese from that shop. The cheese was quite good but I was lactose intolerant although I did not know that at the time.
At home we had also what we called a “dasheen patch”. It’s where we grew this kind of taro leaf that when cooked with coconut milk made a delicious kind of spinach. It is also used to make “callaloo” – a favorite on the island. We also had two sour cherry trees and a chenet tree(also known as Genip, Quenepe, Mamon, Spanish lime and Guinep), a pommecythere tree and a chataigne tree. The pommeceythere tree was in the gutter at the back of the house so it was hard to get the fruit. The chataigne (kind of jackfruit) tree was also in the back and grew very tall. My father had to get this long stick and extend it from the kitchen or the top of the back stairs of the house to pick off the chatigne. The green mature ones were cleaned (with coconut oil on your hands or it blackened your hand) and curried. I never liked cleaning this or eating it but now as an adult I love it. It takes so good with paratha rotis.:-). We collected the huge seeds of the ripe fruit that fell and boiled them with salt. They were very delicious and the nearest thing I can say it tastes like is similar to roasted water chestnuts.
Some things on the island were seasonal. There is a particular time(I think in the rainy season) when “crabs would run”. That’s what they called it. The crabs that lived in the mangroves would be plentiful and be scuttling about. The young men in the village would go crab hunting and according to them it was a tough thing and you could get lost. I think they liked doing it because it was a challenge. Some parents would not let their sons go because they could get hurt or lost. My brothers Toyer and Chunka would go with a group. ( I think my eldest brother Sona would have gone when he was a teenager; he left home at 20 yrs of age). They would bring back the live crabs in the these hemp bags and it was stored in a barrel. Sometimes in some seasons they got a good haul and we could have crabs for lunch for a few days because you could prepare some of them and let the others live. They were given water and fed with grass(yeah grass lol). These crabs were covered with hair so after killing them all the the legs had to be scraped before it was cooked. I remember helping with this. Nobody liked doing it but curried crabs tasted really good.
Sometimes my father would go at the back of this abandoned house(Duck’s house) opposite us and dig for yams. Wild yams grew in a lot of places. many people would go into the “bush” and dig for yams. It was a huge black root that was slimy when peeled. It was peeled, cut into pieces, boiled and fried with seasoning and eaten with some kind of gravy – salted fish and tomatoes or fresh curried fish if you have or just by itself. Part of the diet of most villagers also constituted of smoked herring, canned sardines and salted fish.
We also had chickens for a while for eggs. We did not have a coop. They would roam our yard and nearby and return to sleep on this guava tree we had. We would feed them dried corn. We would say “come tee tee tee” and start throwing down the corn. They would all come running and we could count if any was missing. We knew all the hatch-lings. So this was the opportunity to occasionally catch the chicken for food. Sometimes my brothers would run it down. Lol. We also had a pet dog named “brownie”( I changed the name of the dog for some reasons). Brownie would run down the fowl and have it cornered. Throughout my childhood we always had a dog with the same name. He roamed freely around the yard and sometimes maybe the neighbor’s yard.
Sometimes my mother would ask some nearby neighbor who is accustomed to cutting the head of a chicken to do the job. I remember the first time I saw one being killed and was confused and tormented. On this particular day my brother Chunka was going to snip the head off. As he did that(with a regular knife) I could see the blood spill and the life leave the chicken as they would do it under running water. I don’t know how old I was but my mother was probably not paying attention or she would have chased me away. After it was completely dead, I saw them put scalding water to the chicken and take out the feathers. Then when I saw the insides of the chicken, I was flabbergasted that my mother was doing this. Then it was cooked and we had to eat it. I got over it but I never really liked the taste of chicken and hardly ate it when I was little. When I got married I ate it more frequently (highly seasoned) because my husband liked it. I had a problem cleaning or seasoning a chicken so he usually did that. When he passed, I became vegetarian.
I have to relate an incident with the chickens. These fowl were not white but had many colored feathers and I heard my mother would say a Dominicker breed. I don’t know how many went missing but remember this particular incident. There were 2 hatch-lings that became like pets. On one the feathers were completely white( I don’t know – freak of nature) and the other was gray but they hatched together. So, my sisters, little brother and me found ourselves fascinated with the chickens spent time petting these chickens and my sister give then names. They were called ‘whitey’ and ‘birdy’. We saw the chickens grow up just like all the others roaming around but these 2 were quite tame and and they would eat from your hand. So it was heart breaking when one of them (the white one) was stolen. We never knew what happened to it but we had a suspicion that maybe one of our neighbors got it because it was so tame. Nobody really had fences then and the lay of the land made it difficult to put a fence and it was expensive to do that.
There were some small tiffs with neighbors over boundaries or small things as expected with any community anywhere but it was not serious to make enemies for life. Us kids, with a little bit of caution would end up speaking to our neighbor’s kids although we knew that there was a quarrel that happened. We saw them at school. Some of the neighbors were related to us.
How did we pass the time?
We got 1 toy each at Christmas sometimes but it only lasted a month or two. So how did we spend our time? Our yard was not flat so you could not play anything really. It was a bunch of tiny hills and hollows and you had to be careful walking around or sweeping the yard. We invented our own things to do around the house which was like chasing dragon flies, picking sour cherries, teasing each other or betting on car numbers. Betting on number cars was simply picking a letter of the alphabet and counting how many cars had that letter as they went by. We would also meet with other nearby kids at the school grounds when school was out in the evening or on weekends. There, we pitched marbles, played hopscotch or “peesay”( a game like hopscotch but played with 6 boxes and a stone), skipped rope, played hide and seek, hoop(catch me if you can), “may I”, and cowboys and Indians. I described the school grounds in detail so you can picture the following:
We would skate down the hill behind the church on coconut branches (there were coconut trees, other tall trees and shrubs) from the top of the school down to the large sport field area. It was kind of steep there so sometimes we would go at the back of our neighbor’s (Mr. Mack) house and slide from there. Mr. Mack’s house was adjacent at an angle to the Church so at the back of their yard the steep slope of the whole hill encompassing the school was also there. It was a little dangerous but so much fun. The way the dried coconut branch was, made it easier to grab hold of it as it slid down the hill. It’s sort of how kids here slide on snow. Our parents did not like this and I don’t think Mr. Mack did either but no one would carry news, right? My brother would not want me to slide in case I get hurt and he would be blamed but I did do it a few times. There was also this particular tree we called a “bara” tree and we loved looking for the fruit. It was a small fruit that would blow very far from the tall tree. The fun to find one was more than eating it.
My smallest brother Sean, when he was around 13(not sure) had a very successful business selling chenet. You put out a chair or a made-up table and put the chenet in bunches on it, so that people would know that you were selling. He made enough to go to the movies or buy some clothes. My Mom would sell sour cherry and also make a cherry stew that she sold to the school children for extra money. She also sold “ice-blocks”. “Ice-blocks” was a frozen treat made of flavored syrup or sugar and condense milk and water frozen in and ice tray – hence the term “block”.
From 10 years of age on-wards we had chores, complexity depending on age. It’s hard when you are writing about a whole period of time as with everything I write but it’s the only way I can get the story going. I don’t remember my brothers chores but as I mentioned earlier when we had a cow it was Sona’s chore to take care of it. Toyer and Chunka probably helped in taking care of the goats when we had them or working in the rice fields. We did not have those for the whole period so I don’t remember what they did after that. All I remember is my sisters and I having to do household chores – like making the beds and sweeping the house, sweeping the yard, cutting vegetables or shelling peas, cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes. We all learned to cook overtime. The one thing my mother did not let us do was doing the laundry.
Mama spent a lot of her time over the tub doing laundry. She was an ardent foster or stickler for cleanliness. We did not own a lot of clothes hence she was always over the tub scrubbing clothes to ensure we always had clean clothes. We washed a few things during our time at home but most of the time she would do the washing. She loved us so much that she saw that doing laundry was hard work so she alone did it. We all wore uniforms to school(all schools on the island have uniforms) and it had to be washed, starched and iron. She ironed our school clothes until we were able to iron it ourselves. There was a period of time when finances were running better with my brothers working and so she hired someone to wash the clothes. Sometimes mama would not feel well and hired this lady by the name of Leah to do the laundry for us. Mama would also provide her with lunch.
Here’s what the scrub board look like. Our tub was different to this one. It was a half of barrel(cut in two).
We did not own a lot of clothes but we always had clothes. I can remember while in elementary school besides my uniform, I had one “going out” dress and a few dresses to wear at home. It was the same with my siblings. This “going out” dress was something you did not wear at home but kept it to wear if you had to go into San Fernando or visit relatives or attend anything. If there was a wedding in the village then you got a new dress sewn. My mom had to save money to buy the material to give to seamstress to sew.
Most of the time she got it through “truss”( Trinidadian term for trust) from this vendor who came around in his van. He would sell all kinds of linen and some other things. We mostly bought clothing material. “Truss” is like a loan. You got it and payed for it in installments (or in full) on his next visit. His name was “Sumday”( I don’t know his correct name) but he came by monthly. This is the way we bought clothes for uniforms as well. We bought groceries from “Chong-que” shop in La Brea and sometimes it was on trust.
High School uniforms in Trinidad at that time mostly consisted of a shirt and skirt for girls and shirt and pants for boys. We had hand me downs. Vady got my white shirt and then Betsy got it from her. It was so worn out by washing by the time Betsy inherited it, that it was very thin and was not so white. My brothers also inherited hand me downs. I think this was a common thing in the village because everyone had so many children.
Everyone had one pair of shoes that they went to elementary school with and a pair of slippers – rubber slippers or other kind that you roamed about in. Of course no one in the village as far as I know wore shoes in the house. This is an eastern custom. In high school you had to own a gym shoe to do sports. I remember going to elementary school with a hole in my shoe and it getting wet with the huge puddles in the sidewalk in front of the school. I did get a new one after a few weeks but my mother did not know I was going to school with with hole in my shoe. I was still a child. Mama said “don’t you know that you would get sick”. Later on when I did get sick I often wondered. Will write about it later.
We never thought of ourselves as lacking stuff or poor. I think most kids in the area and village were of similar circumstances. There were some children that came with better school bags and school supplies but there were others who came bare-feet to school.
Things were always improving economically as we were growing up and when we got our first jobs we all helped. My brother Toyer built a whole new kitchen and bathroom when he was working at the bank. My brother Chunka, when he started to work for the oil company, created the yard that is still there now. It was dug up and paved to make it even with 2 steps to go from the top of the yard to the bottom. I took out a loan at the bank I worked at and had the house painted( it was never panted when it was built and I hated the shabby color of the concrete).
The good old days. Life is always richer in experiences rather than richer in money. I never thought of us as poor. Neither my siblings. Sometimes I did wish for more clothes to attend bazaars and other events but I knew we my parents could not afford it – life was just life, sometimes wonderful and sometimes troubling. We did not have much rules. We knew right from wrong without being told much. We knew we could not lie or cheat or steal and we must be kind.
I was a quiet child and was more introspective of the world around me. I observed things and people. I knew who liked me at school and who did not. I remember in “ABC” class(kindergarten class here), some of the girls chasing me around the school teasing me. It was awful and there was not reason for it. It was because I did so well in class. Maybe because they knew my father, I have no idea. I knew that some teachers did not like me because I did better in class than their friends’ children who were in the class also. At a young age, I knew that because my parents were Hindu and it was a Presbyterian school there was some favoritism. I did not say anything to anyone. I grasped a lot about people since then. I will write a little more on race, religion and my relationship with God in a later chapters.
Regardless, it was the “the good old” days. There was nothing else to compare it to. It was just what it was – life. I look back now and loved that life, loved that village.
Live the best life you can, no matter where, when, or with who😊.
I cannot say what I am going to write about next because I always have so much to say and end up not having to write about what I promised. It think I will write about Christmas in Rousillac since it’s Christmas time. Let’s see.
Before I continue, I only now realize that others reading may be part of the events that I write about. This is how I saw things so don’t put too much into it if you saw it in a different way. The object of this little story is to write about my life and not justify, accuse or prove anything. We cannot be ashamed of our past because it is part of what shaped us. Our inner strengths and weaknesses are always tested in life. Anyway, I don’t want to get to philosophical at this point, but my children will read and tell their children one day of how life was in Trinidad. If we had the story of our ancestors from them, themselves about life back in India before they immigrated, now that would be a treat.
So, what happened next?
I felt violated. I felt ashamed. I felt weird. I hated that some were laughing at me. I was quite young and innocent in things and at that point was in the phase of not liking boys. This boy was from another class – probably 3 yrs. older than me
So, I was crying buckets of tears when I reached the principal office. The other students were there to relate the story. I remember being called into the principal office and relating my story. I left the office and the kid (my brother Chunka, nicknamed him “Big Eye Grieve” because he had big eyes) was called in. I think he got strokes with a belt. Yes, we still had that kind of punishment in school for more serious things.
That same afternoon before we got dismissed as I was washing my teachers drinking glass, it broke and I got a cut on where my pinkie finger and hand met. Two mishaps in one day. It was indeed my unlucky day. So, why was I washing the teacher’s glass? It was customary that if a student did well in class you get to help the teacher. In this case it was a privilege to wash the teachers drinking glass and us students looked forward to if we were chosen that duty for a week. I was at the time in Miss Marion class and that classroom had the only sink in the first floor of the school. The only other sink in the school was in the principal’s office.
The cut was a bit deep as I saw flesh when the blood started pouring out. My teacher and the other nearby teachers Mr. Kelvin and Miss Pearl helped in cleaning and putting a band aid. They were a bit anxious and concerned and I could hear them talking about my father – how he might come to school and cause trouble.
My father indeed knew how to cause trouble. Back when I was a baby or toddler and my brothers attended the elementary school there was trouble.
Here’s what I was told:
My second brother Toyer, did not like school and would sometimes hang out in the back of the church out of sight and miss class so he did get into trouble. One of the teachers put him to sit in front of the class facing the class whole day and from that day he did miss class. He was indeed a bit mischievous and had the trait of a leader so of course he would get into some harmless trouble now and again. Part of the routine in school was to say the Lord’s Prayer, prayer after lunch and a prayer before school’s daily dismissal. All the classes in the whole top floor had to join in the prayer together. One day Toyer was caught by Miss Samdaye saying “samdaye mud ass” instead of the prayer.( I really don’t know where he got that from because my parents never cursed at home.) So, she hit him. It must have had a bruise and he went home crying. My father donned a broad belt with a cutlass in a scabbard and went to school. I think he was not wearing a shirt. I’m sure he must have created such a scene and frightened the whole school. The teachers were scared (I would be). Since the school had just been dismissed, some of the students were on their way out or had already left. Imagine if all the students were in the buiding? They would have freaked out.
So, from that day the teachers were very cautious in dealing with my siblings and I. We were good students though. If I can digress for a moment – throughout the years I remember most of us had very good grades and did not cause trouble. I remember always placing in the top 3 from standard 1-4 and in the top 10 in standard 5. We were well known to do well in school by neighbors and relatives. At one time one of my cousins would come over to take lessons from Toyer (who was in High School at the time) to prepare them to write the Common Entrance Examination. This was an island wide examination for 11 and 12-year old’s in Elementary school. If you passed you get a chance to attend a Government public High school for free. We still had to buy books, uniform and supplies. If you failed then you stayed in elementary school until standard 6 (I am guessing until you are about 15 or 16 years of age) or if your parents had money then they paid a fee for you to attend a private school. Thank God we all passed and my brother Toyer scored high in the exam so he got to go to Naparima Boys High School in San Fernando. It was one of the most prestigious schools in the South of the island.
So, now you know why the teachers were very concerned about the kiss and the cut in my hand! They just hoped that my father would not come into school and quarrel with everyone. Luckily, he did not. I just told what happened and knowing that the boy got punished was probably enough for my father.
Nobody knew this but his “bark was worse than his bite”. When he did not have any alcohol, he was quiet as a lamb and hardly even talk to us children. In the village inn(bar) I don’t know but he probably cursed and carried on if he got drunk. So, he had a reputation.
He did beat my brothers once(or maybe more, I don’t know, I never got hit)with his belt. He would say “get my broad belt and we would all be scared”. I spoke to Chunka recently and he said that he and Toyer got a beating for stealing some arts and crafts things from the school. He would never allow stealing. We never had paper to draw on, much less for art and craft stuff. We had only books to do our school subjects and one drawing book (this was a book without lines that we could do drawing in school) We did not have any extra pencils or crayons to do drawings at home. Nowadays, children don’t know how they are privileged.
In the village my father’s nick name was “Ganjar.” I was told that when my father was in his youth he would sell marijuana (I looked it up but I am vague about the history. It says it was banned) to people in the village and that’s how he got the name. In those days it was not done in the same cultural context that it is done right now. It was like an equivalent to taking a smoke or drink after a long day’s work. In India the elevated sadhus would drink a drink (called bang) made out of it to bring down the energy in their systems. So, selling this was not in the same connotation of today’s thinking.
He would read the daily newspaper (Express or Guardian), listen to the radio or sometimes potter around things in the car repairing or I don’t know checking the engine. Another pastime would be just sitting in the gallery (front porch area – everyone had one and that was a favorite pastime for everyone in the village) and rubbing the top of his head. He would wave at the people in cars who passed by and called him out. They would shout out as the car passed by “Mush” which was his nick name on the bus route he worked. He was a bus driver for the Public Transportation Service Cooperation and this was the job I knew him to work for most of my life at home. He was well known on the southern part the island and well-liked by the people who traveled by bus from Point Fortin to Cedros or Point Fortin to San Fernando. He was an excellent driver and his bus made it on time or sometimes in a shorter estimated time so people were anxious to get “Mush” as their driver when they took the bus. After high school I worked in Pt Fortin and when I encountered anyone who knew my father, they had good things to say. So, there were some good things about my father.
My siblings and I were very embarrassed by him sometimes when he was drunk and would curse one of our neighbors (miss Dolly). We did not like that one bit and my brothers would coax him to come home and stop cursing. He did not always listen. One of the most embarrassing moments was when he was drunk and would be just in his underwear and bathe in the front yard. Fellow high school students and teachers knew where we lived and it was embarrassing if they saw him on their way to Vessigny Secondary school(the high school I attended).
When I would go anywhere in the village old and young would ask me “are you Ganjar’s daughter” and give a weird look. Sometimes as soon as they knew that they would not want to have nothing to do with me. It happened to my other siblings I think also. There were a few people who did not care. Because of this my mother said she did not really have any friends. Well, she did not have time for that but if she meant that if there was some event (like a yagna, puja or wedding) taking place in the village. She would sometimes be shunned by some.
Oh well, too much on my father, but this is one of the reasons I don’t like alcohol. It ruined him. Besides the first time I tasted it I did not like it so I never indulge in alcohol. My brothers drink occasional alcohol but my sisters don’t. I think Betsy might have an occasional glass of wine.
Alcohol ruins a lot of people’s lives.
Yet to come – my experience in High school, my hospital stay, my speaking in tongues and more 😊
The school played an important part in village life so I will attempt to describe it in a little more detail. The above pictures of the school, church and cemetery are not exactly the same when I was growing up but it is close. I am not sure what year it was taken.
It stood on a hill along the Southern Main Road. It was a two-storey(British term for 2 floors) building that probably accommodated plus or minus 350 students. On one side of the school, along the road was the local cemetery. It extended backwards to I would say half – to 1mile to the back and was also sloping downwards. The cemetery were mostly just graves with a few tombs but there was one tomb that stood out more than the others. It had a tiny building structure which was called ‘Ajodhasingh’s tomb’, so it served as a marker to anyone trying to describe where their loved one was buried. We did not have any relative buried there because being a Hindu we burned the dead. The land extended further backwards, and no one lived at the back.
Directly at the back of the school was a paved area that extended to the church yard and we called it ‘the courtyard’. It was large enough for the whole of the upper floor (consisted of standard 4-6 grades) students to line up when the school bell rang. You then proceeded in single file to enter the school.
Students in 4-6 standards (similar to 4-6 grades like in the US but not equivalent) were designated into one of five houses, sort of like in the Harry Potter movie. Each house represented one day of the week. You were required to wear a button with the color of your house (I remember having a white button) so if you did something everyone knew which house you belonged to. The main thing the houses were created for was sports day and cleaning/beautifying the school premises. On sports day, you tied or wore a ribbon of your house as you took part in running, walking races, egg and spoon and other races. The other house duties were sweeping the classroom and the school yard and making sure the flower beds at the front of the school looked good. (We had no janitors). A senior student was appointed house captain and together with a teacher was responsible to designating duties. It was like this- Monday house will do the cleaning on Monday and Tuesday would clean on Tuesday etc. A teacher would be judging the whole week on who did the best job. Whichever house did the best job was the winner for that week. I don’t remember if there were any rewards.
At the back of the paved area the land dropped sharply so it was a steep slope. (Over the years the land began to cave in. I don’t know what it looks like today and they have built a new school). There was a track back there with patches of bamboo growing. We called it the bamboo patch. We could not play there because it was a little treacherous. It was a bit scary because the tall bamboo grew like in a grove so the sunlight did not filter in in certain areas and it would be dark. Also it was adjacent to the cemetery and we (all school kids) were afraid of ghosts. But it did not stop us. Sometimes during lunch-time we would dare each other to go in the bamboo patch or the cemetery. You never pointed to a grave or else the ghost would get you. If you did then you had to slightly bite your fingers. Lol.
The school had school concerts where lots of people in the village would attend. It was also a place for the Village Council to meet. The village council was made of a few people from the village about village affairs. I honestly don’t know what they did because my father never attended.
The school and the church raised money by holding bazaars. A bazaar is like a fair with goodies to eat and games to play. It had games like bobbing for apples or spin the wheel for a chance of winning a trinket. It was very similar to those in the US back then. So, it is not unusual that it was a place for local boys to check out or meet local girls.
The school was also used as a place where these vans would come to immunize the villagers. I remember getting vaccinated against polio and small pox.
In the time of no TV, the school was a place to get some news. The news was brought through “film shows”( film projection). For example, news of how and why the need was there to be vaccinated against polio, or any kind of political or world news. Someone would drive around the village in a car with a “Mike”( this was 2 megaphones facing opposite directions attached to the hood of car. It was very loud) announcing when the film show will be held at a particular date and time. People were always excited to see a film show.
I have to digress a little from the school here to talk about how we got the latest news etc.
When I was small I only remember seeing only like two or three film shows and as the world changed more people had radios. (We only got a TV when I was like in my late teens). I don’t know exactly how many people had radios. There were only 2 radio stations at the time.
I remember we would listen on the radio to the “BBC World News.” From London. Around 7 o’clock every evening the transmission on the radio would begin – “This is the voice of the British Broadcasting service operating at (can’t remember the frequency number)’’ and it would make a noise of the radio transmitter (shhhh). They would say another line and then it would go make another noise. So, it was a live radio transmission that came through the radio station studio. My father was an avid listener of daily news so we all became avid listeners of the daily news 😊.
The radio was an important part of life. We would hear news from the island and from America. We knew of the Presidents that got elected, the space race, the moon landing and I remember we liked John F Kennedy. We heard all the music that tantalized America such as the Beatles and all the other popular music. There was country music too and a favorite on the island was Jim Reeves. I can still hear his haunting melody “If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do. The angels beckoned me” etc. We had few Indian radio programs( Hindi songs etc). It was half hour early in the morning (around 6 am)where it was more inspirational and then an hour in the evening. – In one station it would be half an hour in the evening with Hans Hanuman Singh and on the other station half an hour with Pat Mathura. Here we would listen to music from Hindi movies and many people would know the famous actors and the famous movies. On Hindu religious festivals days, we would hear Bhajans and kirtans. On Muslim holiday celebrations there would be a program wishing everyone ‘Eid Mubarak etc.’
As time went by, we would eventually see movies at the drive-in theater in Point Fortin. Since it was a bunch of us, my father would have one or two of my elder brothers hide in the trunk of the car while he bought the tickets( tickets were sold on head count). This was very common thing with some people attending the drive-in. I am not sure how many people in the village attended but I can tell you that in every household there was an average of 7-12 children.
The Rousillac Presbyterian Church was on the other side of the school along the main road. At the back of the church stood the church bell. I think they rang it on certain occasions. Here the land also sloped downwards to a large flat area. You had to be careful going down. This flat area was like a large field. It was here they would have sports day or where the local boys played cricket. I played one or two cricket games here when I was a teenager and had joined this teenage youth group. It did not last long but just had the experience of play on the field. It was not completely flat. While running to catch a ball your foot could get stuck in a hole and you can twist your ankle and fall down. I remember one of my brothers saying that it was so because people would tie their cow there and it created these little holes. Since it was in the tropics we had very rainy weather, so if it was soggy a lot, and I can see it getting these holes as the cattle grazed there. When the school used it, it was no longer used for cattle but that remnant was there and there was no money to fix that.
Next to this field was a large area of bushes, trees and shrubs. There was a track also to go further into the bush where it was real forest like. Among the bushes there were several tiny tracks that resulted from human traffic going back and forth. I remember there was a house way to the back here.
So, this area was perfect to play hide and seek or catch me if you can. We usually got an hour for lunch so us kids would finish eating(I went home for lunch because I lived so close and would hurry back to school after eating) and hustle to the back of the school to play in this area. It was here that this weird, not so good experience happened.
I was around 8 years of age and it was a fine sunny day. My friends and I were playing in these bushes together with most of the school. Then out of nowhere this boy from another class(so I did not know him) came and kissed me right on my cheek. All the boys and the girls began to laugh and I started to cry. The girls said ” go and tell the teacher, go and tell the principal”. I was crying the whole way as made my way over the field, up the hill on my way to the principal office. A lot of kids were following me to see what would happen.
Check back to see what transpired. You will not be disappointed 😊
I still have to get the picture of my house in the old days. If anyone reading has one, can you text it to me.
It’s hard to write on a timeline kind of basis but I will try to weave it as best I can.
So what was life like in while we lived in the first house? Since I was quite small then I don’t remember much so most of my memory will be when we lived in the second house that was built after demolishing the old house. (The materials of the old house was used to make a kitchen that was separate from the main house). I have to tell of this incident that happened to my sister Vady(she was after me in order of birth).
As I said earlier, Mama was always busy doing chores. My elder brothers were probably at school or outside playing and don’t recall where Papa was. Vady was probably somewhere between 2-3 yrs. of age, so that would make me about 5. After cooking there was always some firewood burning in the ‘chulha” and my mother would have like a cup or small pot of water heating on the cinders. This water was used to mix powdered milk for my sister like how we do with formula. So she was probably hungry and wanted “tea”(that’s what we called it) and was just tall enough to reach that cup of scalding/boiling water and it fell over her chest and ran down her body.
She started to bawl in pain and my mother came running. It was a total panic situation, where Mama was crying, I probably was but I remember mother did not know what to do so she started applying mud to the wound, thinking it would cool it. I don’t remember how they got Vady,( I spoke to my brother recently and he said my father had a car – I did not know this) to the hospital. It was a hospital run by the Shell company(approximately 45-60 minutes away) where my father worked and they took good care of her. It was a bad burn – first, second- and third-degree burns. She could have died they said. It was like her whole body was bandaged from the middle of her chest to her navel area- the brunt of the burn on the chest where the water fell on her. She was kept in a room by herself and I could remember accompanying my parents to see her. She would cry so much that the doctors did not allow Mama to see her too much because it would hamper her recovery. When she did come home it was still painful when Mama would apply some kind of ointment to it. It took a long time to heal. She still has a huge scar.
My mother did not think Vady was tall enough to reach that water and always blamed herself. I’m sure my father blamed my mother. It happened to Vady, but it happened to all of us. Life was very tough for my mother. I can imagine Mama pregnant and having so much to do and take care of all of us.
In the first and second house, we had barrels to collect rain water. A make shift piece of galvanize was connected at an angle to allow water to flow into the barrels from the roof. It was the main way we got water, but we also got water from the nearby school. Some people in the village had these large copper containers(shaped like a bowl) to collect water. We had to supplement the water by toting it from the nearby school which had outdoor water taps for students to get a drink. The way it was built it was easy to put a bucket or other container under it and collect your water. Lots of villagers did this.
To tote the water, my elder brothers used a box cart and these large tin cans for the water (you got these by buying oil or biscuits and cleaned and used it when it was empty). From time to time someone from some government agency on the island would come around to spray the barrels with some chemical to kill mosquitoes. When they did the water smelled and tasted terrible. When you cooked with it, it was ok. Later on, when I was probably around 8 or 9 we got a water tap. It was not like you had water connected in the house. It was in the yard. We connected a hose to our kitchen. Sometimes we did not get water in the tap as they would “lock it off” meaning that the Water and Sewage Authority turned it off. We never knew if they were rationing or they were running new lines or fixing old ones. We had one public tap(near Dan’s house)in that part of the village at the bottom of the hill where I lived. Because of gravity there would always be a trickle of water flowing there. If there was no water there and rain did not fall then that would be a cause for concern. It seldom happened.
There were times that we owned a cow for milk. There was a short time we also owned goats (to sell to people). I was very small when we had the cow(first house). I only saw this cow once. The cow was usually tied some distance away from our house(I would estimate about 1 or 2 miles away). My parents would seek permission from the land owner to tie the cow. There was a lot of open land(called ‘paartee” land) that people owned and did not use. You would always be on the lookout for good grass for the cow to graze. Sometimes they tied the cow in the back of the school or in the cemetery or in the “paartee.” So, someone had to go and take water for the cow and make sure it had enough grass to feed on or you would have to cut grass with a grass knife. My eldest brother Sona(also called Mahadeo), took care of the cow. We called the cow ‘Latchmee” and Mama and Sona would say that the cow was tame and smart. They would go with the bucket of water or a bucket to get milk(when it had a young one) and hit it and call “Latchmee’ and the cow would come running. According to where the cow was you did not tie it but allow it to roam freely if it had a big area to feed on.
Goods and Garbage.
There was absolutely no waste. If you bought anything in a jar or can or similar container, it was cleaned and kept to put, sugar, spices, baking powder or anything else. We did not buy anything in boxes. At the market you would buy things that the store keeper would wrap in small piece of brown paper. If you bought vegetables you carried your own basket for it. Of course, things changed gradually as modernization took place. When it did change and we had garbage trucks I was already married.
Life is the flavor of the past. If we hold on to what people think or thought of us then we are living in their illusion- for only we can know who we are on the inside. If you hold on to the past emotions or things of such, then you take it to your future in this life or the next as a samskara or vasana. It’s good to just look out of the adventure and just watch it 😊
Coming up I still have to write about what I mentioned before and will include the night my mama took pills and tried to commit suicide. Also I will say a little of what Mama said about what they had to do during the last world war. Not part of my experience but my mother is part of my story. It is only while writing do I know how much I have to say😊
I was trying to find a picture of my home to post, so it delayed my posting. I will add it when/if I get one. I found this picture of my parents. Only when I start to write do I see that I can wrote so much so bear with me if things are sometimes in sequenced. 🙂
I cannot talk about birth unless I speak of my mother. My mother was the greatest woman I knew. She was one of 10 siblings. Being the second eldest daughter, she had to do a lot of housework and take care of the smaller children. Her elder sister got married at an early age and left home.
My grandmother and grandfather(mother’s side) were third or 4th generation immigrants. They worked very hard growing vegetables for a living. I’m not sure if my grandfather worked in the cane fields first before growing vegetables. The whole village did some kind of vegetable farming or had a few cows to get milk. The villagers would buy a bottle of milk from the milk farmers.
When I was born I don’t exactly know how there house was but here’s how it was as I remember as an 11 yr old. It was in better condition than how I described my home above. It was also wooden and actually It had 3 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a porch(we called it a gallery – from the British). Everything was always clean(just like in the house I grew up in). My grandparents home was built on stilts but it was not very tall. The under of the house was “lepayed” and it was good to sit there and feel the breeze. I loved visiting my grandparents and picking fruits from the plum tree and pommecythere tree. They had a big yard so it was fun to run round around and play and even take a walk along the trail to where the vegetable farming took place. It was like an adventure. Along the way there was a scary tree(for and 8 yr old) that the people around said that it had ghosts there. It was very dark under that tree and I remember that if I were walking there by myself I would run pass that area as fast as I could. lol.
My mother at 16 was very pretty and pretty much a mother or housewife without technically being one. She cooked, clean, give the children baths, food etc. So, when she got with my father at 18 her life was the same. Hard work and sacrifice to feed and clothe us, with small salary that my father brought in. When we lived in that house that I described he was s driver working for the oil company named “Shell”. He later became a bus driver with the pubic transportation system on the island. On Fridays when he got his pay check he would visit the rum shop and have one too many and would sometimes come home drunk and abuse my mother with the worse words. At times he would hit her so she would pack us up and move to my grandparents’ home. After a few days my father would come and beg for her to come back. My grandfather(nana) would tell her who would take care of her when he was gone and she had so many children. It happened when she had 2 then 3 then 4 children and so on. It was a thing we all had to live with – an alcoholic father. There was a lot of quarrel in the house.
My father had a different story. He became that way because his mother died when he was a small boy. He was taken care of by family but sometimes he said he did not get food to eat. He would leave home and joined the company of other youths and not live within the dynamics of the strict brahmin family. There were different kind of dynamics in that family at that time. My grandfather by my father(Ajaah) was a pundit – the village Hindu priest. He lived to be 108 – I do remember him a little as he lay in the box to be burnt and my father crying at home. I was probably about 2 yrs, I am guessing. So my father without a “real “ mother in his life became “own-way”( grew up defying my grandfather and that’s where he learned to drink alcohol). It is why my father’s family never really cared to embrace our family. My father had another side to him that he did not talk about but demonstrated to us. He could put his two feet behind his head and walk on his hands. He did not teach us yoga but he learnt it from a relative (not sure how they were related). So, he could even pull in his abdomen and it would look like a bowl. He would give us a show but never showed us how to do it. He was fearless in a way and some of the stories he would tell us about people and incidents was sometimes unbelievable. Let me relate this little thing. As I said, we had an outhouse but my father would always go 3 houses distance away and use the one at the local elementary (Rousillac Presbyterian School). The school had a church on it’s grounds as well as the local cemetery. We would always hear ghost(our word for ghosts was jumbie- now I wonder if it was related to the word “zombie”) stories so as kids we did not want to be at the school premises when it was dark. My father would visit the school outhouse at 4 am and he would tell us he would hear noises coming from the inside of the school. He related this incident; “I was smoking cigarette when this man wearing pajamas came out of nowhere and asked me for a cigarette. I am telling you, frankoment”( Frankoment – meaning that it was true, vivid, real). I digressed too much.
Anyway, that’s a little synopsis of my home. I was the 4th child. I had 3 brothers before me. My mother longed for a girl and so she would sometimes dress my brother before me in a dress. That’s what the picture shows. That’s one of my brothers in a dress. My mother’s pregnancy with me was very difficult and unlike her other pregnancies. She could barely eat any food and was quite weak. She just felt like staying quiet.(perhaps I came with the seed of meditation) She lived on crackers which led my siblings to tease me “biscuit child” There was this particular Jacob’s cracker that she ate all the time. I was the only child born in the hospital out of us all. Everyone else was home birth by midwife. I was born the day before Navraatri at the San Fernando General Hospital. My father was very happy he had a girl and for the next 2 or 3 years my parents lived some of their happiest days together. They had a period of prosperity. He had stopped drinking alcohol and had even bought a car number plate “2177”.lol. They actually went to the movies. Mama would say that there was a saying “a girl born after 3 boys is good luck”. Indeed, they had some good luck.
I don’t want to delve into much details about relatives.
To be continued – growing up – school, village life, my sister’s big accident where she almost died, my embarrassing moment, one of my brothers play hookey, my fathers belt, my mothers faith in God etc., at 13 being told you had a hole in the heart, my experience of speaking in tongues and much much more.
Death is coming. Well, for all of us someday, you never know when. No one ever wants to talk about it so there are no conversations. The message of the universe is loud and clear that we must look at it as thousands perish daily. So you can look at your life and make peace with yourself. Looking at death also means looking at the life you lived.
I was born in a tiny, 1-bedroom wooden hut on a small piece of land that was like a precipice. The wood was like that of an old log cabin except it was not that neat. The strips of wood was heavy and wider and sometimes uneven. It was like an old shack just put together. The roof was made of just one layer of think corrugated galvanized sheet metal. With the rainy weather there it was not surprising that there were parts of rotted wood and holes in the roof. There was a small kitchen(probably the size of the small standard bathroom) There was no electricity or running water so there was not a semblance of a modern kitchen. Instead of a stove, there was a stand where stood a “chulha.” It is a little semi-circular structure made of dirt with 3 pillars to rest a pot on. It’s hard to describe. I will have to draw it. You use firewood with kerosene to start the fire. It made the best tasting rotis you would eat😊.
My mother and father and 5 of us kids(2 of my siblings were not born yet) slept in that one bedroom and there was a few leaks in the roof so at night sometimes you wake up to water coming through the roof. My parents had to put containers to collect the water. So, some of us would wake up. I remember listening to the pita patter of the rain on the galvanize roofing. Later my parents built a better house (casted with concrete)where my 6th and 7th sibling was born in. Oh yeah, we had an outhouse. Everybody in the village had outhouses but I hated it. So, you learn to appreciate the modern conveniences of this time. Most people take it for granted.
I will continue to write about my life so if you are interested please check my blog daily – well regularly. I will not be pausing to make it in perfect grammar etc because it will halt my writing:-). Read about school and how at 13, I thought that I would not live long etc.
You come home from the grocery store and drop the grocery
down. Question: how do you treat the food? Do you chuck it on the floor like
trash or do you thing of it as your precious cargo? As I shared earlier in a
previous video about where out food comes from, now where it goes when it
reaches your home is another thing to think of. The way we take care and treat
our food is important. It’s just as sacred as the one who created it. We get
busy but if we get in the good habit of putting it away in the pantry and refrigerator
with a good feeling then we are already putting good vibes in our food. Our
food puja starts there. Because food is plentiful here in America, we kind of
take it for granted. – like it’s just something we eat. The quality of food is
tied to the way we treat it also.
How do you eat an apple? Do you cut it up and eat it with a fork? After washing the apple and your hands, you can cut it up or just bite into it. You might find you enjoy it better by using your hands to eat it rather than using cutlery because our hands give out energy also. If you have good vibes your energy is transmitted to the apple. Also natural intelligence in the body is sort of connecting to the apple. This is why many people will ask someone such as a saint or guru to touch or bless their food. So, as you form a sacred relationship with God and even have a reverence for your food then the food will actually taste better and have good vibrations. You can check about the effects of prayer or good thoughts on water.
In Ayurveda food is classified into 3 types – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. You can read about them if you wish. As I did sadhana I began to become aware of the affect of foods on my system. I never tried limiting myself from foods such as onions and garlic but I moved away from them because I would notice the difference in my body. Usually you get advice on what to eat on the path(more sattvic food) but the path was leading me to experience the effects of the food on the body. So, when I go to the grocery, I can hold the foods in my hand and sometimes I need to put it up to my forehead and I would know the nature or effect of that food so I would buy it or not. Sometimes it may be a little cloudy in knowing and I would buy but the moment I put it in my mouth I can feel it. So, after many years, guess what? All the foods that yogis would say to stay away from, it naturally came about in me to not have those foods because of the way I felt when I eat it. Then it had dawned on me, that this is how the science of food classification came about in Ayurveda. My Guruji always said that things would happen automatically. This is why I believe in this path, although I sometimes I doubted it a bit at first.
Nowadays, some people are thinking about going back to a
diet that our ancestors ate. Would that work – maybe, maybe not. Here are some
things to consider:
Our whole digestive system has changed. Our digestive system
is made up of different organisms that help us digest. With the kinds of food
and preservatives we have been using for decades has caused some of the
organisms to die off so we are having a hard time digesting some food.
We as a species have changed from our ancestors and the needs of the body will keep changing. Because of some reason our bodies can no longer digest wheat products whether it is our change or the wheat changed. Also, there is a psychological change in consciousness in our feelings as conscious beings towards the animals and the planet. So is nature changing our nature? An adult does not eat the food of a toddler. In the same way as more humans becomes more conscious beings then is it possible that diets have to change?
Our job and lifestyles have changed so the amount and kind
of food we eat have changed and will continue to change. This is why experts
come up with one diet after the next. The portions and other things will keep
changing. We live in a changing universe. Nothing is stagnant.
They come out with one superfood after the next and everyone gets on it but food alone does not make us healthy – our habits, our thoughts, energies from our relationships(people) places, animals and things also. Of course, you have to eat plenty of fresh food and vegetables, stay away from junk food and don’t eat things that have too much additives as all experts say. But as you do sadhana you will have to pay attention and change your diet as you change – sattvic thoughts, sattvic food, sattvic energy etc.