Indian Arrival Day in Guyana, South America is carved into the calendar as May 5, 1838. There is nothing about this date that should be celebrated. The day marks the day that my ancestors landed into a foreign land. They were taken under false pretenses. They were promised a better life, sustainable pay, only to be made as a joke while earning little to no income. They were brought in as indentured servants. The new, updated version of slavery. The demand for workers in the West Indies was high, since the abolishment of slavery had taken place. This is how the period of indentureship was conceived.
…The irony that they spent their lives working on sugar plantations, nothing was sweet about this deal with the devil. They were recruited in India, made to believe that they were only going to another part of India to earn a better life for their families. They were unaware that they would be traveling across the world. They were taken advantage of so much, so illiterate that they used their thumb print in lieu of a signature. They had no clue of the future that was being graphed for them.
… My ancestors, if I could have warned you. I would have told you. I would have begged you. I would have pleaded with you. Please! Don’t sever our roots! Don’t you see, the gap that will be created, the disconnect will be that of a broken thread. Lost. Dispersed. Disassembled. Forgotten by the next few generations, only to be dug up again by your great great grandchildren who are now asking the same painful question, “where did we come from?” I wouldn’t let you get on those ships. To be degraded for centuries. To be referred to as a coolie laborer. But I can’t go back in time. What I can do, is I can thank you for trying to make a better life for us. We remember you by saying our last names out loud, by passing it on to our children. We honor you in more ways than you can imagine. We value your hard work and dedication. The cultural gap that was born when Indians arrived at Guyana is one that is seen with all Indians around the Caribbean. I have been a witness to the situations in which Indians from India do not view the Indo-Caribbean’s as their own, largely due to the loss of languages. My ancestors did not get to teach their mother tongue, because they were too occupied with learning the language of their colonizers. The sacrifices they made for us at the cost of detaching us from our cultural roots, each day passes, and we claw on harder to keep a grip of who we once we were…lost at sea, in the kalapani.
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