“My Story” Chapter 02

“My Story” – by Randall Butisingh.

(Reminiscences during my life beginning 1913)

CHAPTER TWO

When I was born on December 1, 1912, my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandparents had already died.  I was about two when my maternal grandmother died.  I remember her, fair complexioned with almond-shaped eyes, a Nepalese by nationality; her husband tall and dark was Punjabi.  My mother told me that I was like my grandfather,.  I knew very little of my father’s ancestors.  He told us that his father was an interpreter and his mother was mulatto or of mixed race.  When my eldest sister Rose was born, she was very fair – my parents were brown – my father said that she resembled his mother.  When she grew up she was acclaimed the prettiest girl in the village.

My father grew up with Indians.  He always tried to present an Indian front.  He wore Indian garb, the dhoti (the loin cloth), was able to speak the Indian dialect, was a singer of the various ragas – modes of Indian music – and he had books printed in Hindi.  Although he was semi literate, he bought and read the newspapers.  He was interested in History.  He kept an old copy of English History.  I believe I was motivated by him to read both Hindi and English, in which I have acquired some degree of proficiency.

I am able to write of most of my experiences at this very early age because I had a very sensitive and impressionable mind.  I could recall events right back into my childhood before the age of two..  I recall when just about eighteen months old my mother had made me a coloured shirt.  I wore it and ran to the doorway to show it off.  At the same time a cow was passing.  Attracted by the colour of the garment, it picked me up with its horns and tossed me in a ditch nearby.  My cries caught the attention of my mother who rescued me.  Even today I carry the scar of that encounter.

A little after that incident, I recall living in a wooden house with a bedroom, living room and gallery; a part of the latter was used as a kitchen.  We still used mud stoves and sometimes a coal pot, which was also used for heating irons to press our clothes. My father, at that time had a good job in town and it was a period of good living for my sister and me. We got nice clothes, not many, but more than what others got, sweets and toys. I had a kettledrum for Christmas and my sister a big doll.  My father was able to buy a bicycle, and so far as I can remember, it was the first one owned by anyone in the village. There were no motorcars in the village.  I recall faintly that the first car that came into the village hit me.  It must have been going at a very slow rate, because they were able to retrieve me uninjured from under it.

At that time also, my parents kept a small herd of cows from which we got milk.  I used to take my cup with me at milking time and he would fill it with milk fresh and warm from the udders of the cow.  In those days the cows were fed exclusively on grass.  I remember smelling their sweet breath, and seeing how gentle they were. We had a butter churn of a half-gallon capacity and at times we would churn butter, some of which we would sell  to buyers in town.

I remember when our herd, those that were not giving milk and the steers were put in a pasture not far off, supervised by a paid cowminder.  They would remain there until they are ready to calve when they are brought home.  I remember one of our cows, in the rainy season got stuck in a ditch for a few days.  The red headed crow, the king among the other crows that were black headed, thinking it dead, swooped down annd picked out one of its eyes.  Shortly after, my father discovered it and with great diffuculty, with help, pulled it out and took it home.  It survived and was able to produce milk.

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