Do you remember?

Written By : KARAM RAMRAKHA. (Karam C. Ramrakha, prominent lawyer and ex-Fiji M.P. now living in Sydney, Australia, after what he describes as the eclipse of his political career, reminisces
11 Jul 2011 12:00

Written By : KARAM RAMRAKHA. (Karam C. Ramrakha, prominent lawyer and ex-Fiji M.P. now living in Sydney, Australia, after what he describes as the eclipse of his political career, reminisces on past Fiji).

I came across this old fading photograph of my father with four i-Taukei all dressed to their nines as we put it.
For the life of me I could not recall the names of the i-Taukei and ask if readers can help.
The British were wary of my father as he had strong feelings for Independence for India and often exiled him to areas where there were fewer Indians.
One such transfer was to Nabouwalu where he came into contact with George Toganivalu, father of the famous Toganivalu brothers William, David, Joshua, and finally Julian.
In Bua he made many i-Taukei friends and admired their lifestyle, and was impressed by their village society and mores..
He also mastered the Fijian language and was an accredited i-Taukei interpreter in Fiji’s Courts.
For this he would receive the princely sum of 25 pounds each year.
But how do we treasure old memories? In the old days we used to put the photographs in a shoebox or an album if we could afford one.
Now taking photographs is child’s play.
The Digital camera gives us so much scope. Prints are inexpensive but photos can be stored on the computer.
It was while doing this that I came across this photo of my Father and the i-Taukei.
It infuriated me that I could have treated this precious memory so carelessly.
There is a lesson for all of us in this.
Preserve your past. Write your past. Read your past.
Again do you mourn the loss of material things.I do.
In vain we Hindus warn of love of material things, warning us that it is the world of Maya… a Sanskrit word which emphasis how ephemeral material possession is. It is here and when we are gone it is still here. So as one commentator put it .. it is Cosmic Illusion
Still, Hinduism apart, I pine for my old Fijian Bible. I believe that the Bible is an inspired book while we can laugh at incidents like the Tower of Babel. As we Hindus say we are God’s puppets, and the Bible says we are clay in which God breathed life.
Hinduism likewise tells us we are made of clay.
But a strong Catholic education with the Marist Brothers in Fiji served me well.
At Marist Brothers Darlinghurst in 1950 I was the only non-Catholic in the school.
As a senior student reminded my wife, Usha, on our 50th Anniversary gathering of the MBHS Darlinghurst Old Boys, Here he was a non-Catholic and he won the Religion Prize, and carried off the English prize when it was not his mother tongue. But to return to the Fijian Bible.
In 1956 I had to buy a copy of the Bible to administer oaths as a newly appointed Commissioner for Oaths.
I went to Udai Vir Singh who owned Suva Book Shop, which his son runs to this day. He placed three identical Bibles in front of me, and said Take a pick. I did.
The English one cost 30 shillings, the one in Hindi 15 shillings and the Fijian Bible eight shillings. I bought the latter.
It is languishing there somewhere. Woe is me. I pine for it. I used to read it to try and improve my knowledge of vosa vaka-viti which I am ashamed to say I was afraid to speak because I felt my pronunciation of that language inadequate. Oh, well, in my next life.
Finally has anyone seen my copy of a Hindi book Veer Panch Rattan? It is a book of war ballads in verse. Now for this one and my Fijian Bible I offer 50 dollars each if they will deliver it to Mr Peter Lomas at the Fiji Sun.

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