Saturday, February 11, 2006

About my self and why I write

My name is Robert H. Mahesh, and I am an Indo-Guyanese immigrant of New York for the past twenty-four years. I have been looking a bit more closely at our Indo-Guyanese story as dislocated immigrants, because we have been living witnesses of that dislocation, which came about because of circumstances beyond our control in our Motherland of Guyana.

Fortunately, we have not been completely destroyed, but we have survived despite the several wrong-doings that confronted our community. If we do not tell and document our story from our perspective, no one will do so for us. In my humble way, I have been writing pieces of our story under the heading, “Glimpses of Living Indo-Guyanese History,” in prose, poetry and prayers, reflecting some of my personal experiences on that living road of ‘Dislocation and Survival.’

My true-to-life story “A Pilgrimage to the Place of his Birth in Guyana,” (self-published in New York in 1995) is a living example of my abiding interest in our living story, which keeps unfolding before our very eyes. Who are better qualified than us to write our story from our perspectives? Is it not true too that that writing was often over-looked by us? You be the judge.

I am the only son of an illiterate indentured East Indian immigrant. My father went to Guyana in 1909 on the Sutlej, and I myself have become an Indo-Guyanese immigrant in the United States in 1979. My book tells about my difficulty of getting a teaching job, because I was not a Christian but a Hindu. Although I was qualified, I was turned away by the Christian manager from my own school at De-Willem, West Coast Demerara, Guyana, but was fortunately employed by a goodly Catholic priest in the Pomeroon River, Essequibo, far away from my home at De-Kinderen, West Coast Demerara, Guyana.

I journeyed in the teaching profession for twenty-five years (1954-1979) and rose from a Pupil Teacher to Deputy Headmaster and after working in six schools. I graduated from the Government Teachers’ Training College (1961-1962 batch) and from the University of Guyana in 1970 with a BA, DipEd., and without a high school education. My parents could not afford to send me to high school, but I moved on academically by self-study, determination and perseverance, which have been documented in my book.

I know that every Guyanese ethnic group also has its story and each group must begin to write its story from its perspective as I have done. But it is important to do that writing truthfully, otherwise it will bring discredit to its writers. Our writings will help to build our young Guyanese store-houses of History and Literature collections for posterity, otherwise we will continue to read stories about other peoples and their countries. Such a situation will only help to continue to enslave us. Our writings will liberate us and give us confidence and a boldness which will build true independence.

Join me in writing and sharing. I truly believe that when we write our stories truthfully, it will help to liberate us from our hurts. We have the power through our pen and independent thinking, and that power can truly liberate and free us from the so many injustices that were committed against our community. Only our truthful documentations will bring closure and healing to the injuries caused by many against us. Our writings will expose those injustices and draw them to the attention of the reading world, who may raise their voices in condemnation, so that those wrongs may not be repeated against others. While our truthful writings will liberate us, the opposite will serve to enslave us and perpetuate the hurt.

Let us liberate ourselves through our writings and thereby, teach some very valuable lessons about our ‘Dislocation and Survival,’ to our generations yet to come, and to others who may wish to read them. It is my understanding that ‘Literature is Life,’ and all its writings are either true or false stories, about people of all ages and nationalities. I know too, that those stories are expressed through the written word either by prose or poetry, and they reflect defeats, victories, falsehood, truth, pain, sadness and many other human qualities, in a sharing educational way. Tagore said that the written word crosses oceans and mountains and is never changed. It helps to unite not only minds of the present, but also the minds of the present with those of the remote past.

(Written: Thursday February 9, 2006).

I will be very happy to receive any feedback on the thoughts that I have expressed above. You can communicate with me by telephone or email, which are as follows:

Tel: (718) 835 – 4989.
Email: roberthmahesh@yahoo.com

Some of my works in prose

I have written a number of works in prose, but only my book has been published so far. Among my works are:

1. A Pilgrimage to the Place of his Birth in Guyana. ( Self-published 1995)

2. My very first twenty-four hour Pilgrimage to the Shri Trimurti Bhawan Mandir in New York, in observance of Maha Shiva Ratri. A personal experience of spiritual learning, growth and historical significance. (2001).

3. A Booklet on the Marlborough Primary School in the Pomeroon River, Guyana. Recollections from 1954 when I first started to teach as a seventeen-year-old Pupil Teacher, to 1997 when I revisited the school as a sixty-one-year-old man, forty-three years after, from New York. (1997).

4. A Pictorial remembrance of the passing of Dr. Cheddi B Jagan, Late President of Guyana and Father of our Nation. From a collection of Newspaper clipping Tributes. (2000).

5. ‘An essay on the characteristics that distinguish terrorism from other forms of political violence. Illustrate your discussion with examples from various historical periods and geographical locations.’ A St. John’s University Graduate History 219 Paper. (Fall 2002).

6. ‘A New Global Human Order,’ by Dr. Cheddi B Jagan, Late President of the Republic of Guyana, South America. A St. John’s University Graduate History 812 Paper. (Spring 2002).

7. ‘A Biography of Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, Late President of the Republic of Guyana, South America.’ A St. John’s University Graduate History 401 Paper. (Spring 2002).

8. ‘Reasons for Guyanese migration to New York City, United States of America (with reference to Richmond Hill, Queens, New Immigrant Community) and the effect of American modernization on the community, which in turn led to the indirect modernization of Guyana, South America.’ A St. John’s University Graduate History 757 Paper. (Fall 2001).

9. ‘Guyanese East Indian Businesses on Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. A case of dislocation and survival.’ A St. John’s University Graduate History 120 Paper. (Spring 2003).

10. ‘Reasons why people left Guyana, South America and migrated in large numbers to Richmond Hill, Queens, New York area in the United States in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.’ A St. John’s University Graduate History 710 Paper. (Fall 2001).

11. An only brother’s final good-bye to his only beloved big sister. (Booklet 2000).

All the above writings have been done because of my living experiences, which have been connected to the above topics. They all consist of my perspectives.
(Written: Saturday February 11, 2006).

About my book

GLIMPSES OF LIVING INDO-GUYANESE HISTORY

About my book, self-published in New York 1995

“A Pilgrimage to the Place of his Birth in Guyana.”

By: Robert H. Mahesh, BA, DipEd.

My book tells about my true-to-life Indo-Guyanese story as a seventeen-year-old sugar estate boy from Pln. De-Kinderen, West Coast Demerara, Guyana, South America. It recalls how I found it difficult to get a teaching job, because I was not a Christian although I had passed the Pupil Teachers’ Appointment Examination in nineteen fifty-two. I was turned away by two Christian priests, one being from my own school at De-Willem, West Coast Demerara, where I had brought first of four passes at the Pupil Teachers’ Appointment examination at the age of sixteen. Only sixty passes were allowed in the County of Demerara, when thousands wrote the examination, and you could not write the examination if you were over sixteen years of age.

Eventually, a goodly Catholic priest employed me as a seventeen-year-old Pupil Teacher in the Pomeroon River, Essequibo, Guyana in nineteen fifty-four, far away from my home. I taught for twenty-five years in six schools, and rose from the Pupil Teacher status to that of Deputy Headmaster, before migrating to the United States with my family in nineteen seventy-nine. Deteriorating political, social and economic conditions at home caused me to migrate. The book ends when I returned to the place of my birth in March nineteen ninety-five, as a fifty-nine-year-old man from New York, to participate in a Hindu Memorial service at the Meten-Meer-Zorg Hindu Temple. My illiterate immigrant father used to take me to worship at that temple as a little boy, when the temple was originally located at De-Kinderen.

In that service I thanked God for my poor immigrant father and for all His help to my father and to my family and I. I also left a message of hope by telling the congregation that in the same way that my father and I drew strength and courage from our religion and culture, similarly they could also draw strength and courage, from the same religion and culture, no matter what the circumstances and still survive.

My book is a living testimony of a very small part of our ‘Dislocation and Survival’ story, which led to the changing faces of the Lefferts Library and Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. It can be valuable encouragement to all those who are poor and struggling in life. My book also shows how I progressed educationally without a high school education, which my parents could not afford, to become a Fourth Batch History Graduate from the University of Guyana in nineteen seventy. The book is a wonderful lesson in the value of self-effort, determination and perseverance. It is also an example which boldly demonstrates the fact, that if we do not tell and write our story from our perspective, no one will do so for us. I have also called upon the other ethnic groups in Guyana to tell and write their stories as well. I did this in the epilogue of my book.

The beginning of my book has a ‘Prayer for a Pilgrimage to the Place of my Birth,’ and in a note to the reader I made it clear that my story is not about a king or queen, a prince or princess, a superstar or celebrity, but about a poor East Indian sugar estate boy from Guyana. Too many stories I declared have been written about the fore-going listed category, and nothing has been written about us. It is time that we begin to write our own stories. On the back cover of my book I have written a special ‘Tribute to Family Love,’ which showed the great value of father’s love, mother’s love, brother’s love and sister’s love. All these persist from the cradle to the grave. Many have failed to recognize their value only when the hour is too late. I also declared that politicians who dislocate family lives, by their un-Godly misrule, can never conquer or destroy that indomitable family love, which is a gift from God.

(Written: Thursday Feb. 9, 2006).

That you will read my book and support a budding Indo-Guyanese writer is my fervent hope. For copies of my book write to:

Robert H, Mahesh,
104-32, 108 Street,
Richmond Hill, Queens,
New York, 11419.

Tel: (718) 835 – 4989.
Email: roberthmahesh@yahoo.com

Monday, January 16, 2006

We always remember our country of our birth

Why is it difficult to understand why it is difficult to forget the country of our birth?

Saturday, December 31, 2005

We must document our history

If we as Indian Guyanese do not document our history then no one will do it for us since we are living witnesses of our status as immigrants in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. Our whole story which covers a period of 167 years, starting from India in 1838 when our forefathers went to British Guiana as indentured immigrants, that first wave was a north to south movement.

Today their children have become immigrants because of policital, social & economic forces beyond our control. Our movement started from Guyana in 1965 to the present and is a movement in the opposite direction from south to north. We in second movement are fortunate to be educated unlike our forefathers and therefore we are qualified to document our stories from our perspective.

Other ethnic groups in Guyana have their stories too and should document them also. I would like to encourage Indo Guyanese to begin this documentation so as to enrich our young Guyanese Literature and History store houses for furture generations and others who may wish to read same.

Please feel free to post your comments and feedback.