NATION

Widow: Intermarriage Will Remove Prejudices

Widow Latileta Naqiri Singh believes inter-marriage will help to diffuse racial tension, remove prejudices and promote national unity. She is thankful for the Constitution for promoting unity and giving hope
22 Jul 2015 16:20
Widow: Intermarriage Will Remove Prejudices
Family matriarch Latileta Naqiri Singh (circled) surrounded by members of her family after the funeral of her husband.Photo: Jaynett Prakash

Widow Latileta Naqiri Singh believes inter-marriage will help to diffuse racial tension, remove prejudices and promote national unity.

She is thankful for the Constitution for promoting unity and giving hope to their children.

Mrs Singh, 61, an iTaukei of Solomon descent, was commenting after the burial of her Indo-Fijian husband Lochan Triloc Singh, 59, in Lautoka.

The Singhs have five children, more than 30 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. They all live in Vanuakula settlement with other relatives in one big happy community nestled among the canefields of Drasa.

Mrs Singh said: “Love conquers all. We had to overcome the cultural, religious and racial sensitivities of the time to marry. I am from Natalaicake Village in Ba. He is from Lautoka,” he said.

“He came from a staunch Hindu background and me from an Anglican background. Gradually, he began to warm towards my religion and eventually joined. He even donated a piece of our land here in front of our home for our church. He helped build it too.

“Triloc felt at home in our community. He regarded everyone equal. There is no Indo-Fijian or iTaukei, we are all one, he believed.

“Now my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren call themselves Fijians.”

 

Equal citizenry

She welcomed the Constitutional provision of equal citizenry and the common identity.

“It’s the best thing that has happened to this country. It makes my children feel a sense of belonging in this country,” he said.

Triloc, as he is commonly known, left his home in Lautoka as a young man looking for a place in life. He went where his heart took him.

He was regarded as a rebel. He broke family traditions and married Latileta  Naqiri.

Mrs Singh said Triloc loved the iTaukei way of life and “he felt at home among us.”

That move kept him away from his Indo-Fijian family for a long time. He was a driver but he was sort of a jack of all trades. iTaukei men who live in the area described him as “the man, the real man.”

One said: “He was humble, loving, generous and compassionate. He embraced the iTaukei culture and loved his wife and children. He was shy and not a man of many words. But he was a doer.”

Even Anglican Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho paid tribute to Triloc as a man who supported his family and the church.

Triloc played an influential role in building the settlement. There are now 50 houses and the families are all related.

 

Unique community

Many residents are trilingual, iTaukei, Hindi and English. During the family church service, on the eve of the funeral, Bishop Qiliho preached in English, the prayers were said in iTaukei and English and the hymns were sung in Hindi. Around the kava (yaqona) bowl, everyone from different ethnic backgrounds sat cross-legged in a relaxed atmosphere.

It was like a melting pot for all the cultures. Triloc was loved by his siblings. They came from all over Fiji and overseas to pay their last respect.

Sister Mala Maharaj who flew in from New Zealand with her daughter Milan, said: “We loved him and respected his choice. We are proud for what he has done here.”

Milan, who spoke on behalf of the Singh family during the funeral service said: “Lochan Mama (uncle) was a great man. He was quite the character, with an exuberant personality and a charming smile. He was a man who lived his life on his own terms but he remained humble for the people he cared for. His ability to connect with people and create a bond is evident today by looking around the room everyone who is here has been impacted by this beautiful person. With a heart of gold and a happy go lucky nature, Lochan Mama was someone who made his presence known. We are truly grateful to have a genuine and loving person like Lochan Mama in our lives.”

It was hard to find a photo of him. He was a modest person and liked to stay in the background.

Mrs Singh said she never regretted marrying Triloc.

“We are teaching our posterity to continue his legacy. He has planted a seed for peace and tolerance in our community. That intermarriage is fine and beautiful when there is real and genuine love.”

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 


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