Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 17th 2014 Contents SHEREEN ALI
M any of us may know of char-
acters like the mysterious
Bogart, the posturing "tough
guy" who hardly says a word; or Popo
the carpenter, who is always "making the
thing without a name," yet rarely building
anything---just two of the characters
brought vividly to life by the artistry of
Trinidad-born novelist VS Naipaul in his
1959 memoir of childhood, Miguel Street.
VS Naipaul in these short stories created
memorable characters through his deft
way of setting up a scene, his use of creole
dialogue, and his clear plots, evoking char-
acters poignant in their colourful, flawed,
But how many of us have ever heard of
the writing of another older, more sym-
pathetic Naipaul---VS s own father, Seep-
ersad? Seepersad used these same ele-
ments, a generation before his son did, to
tell his own good stories, using the more
compact (and ephemeral) vehicle of news-
papers, not novels. Some of his best stories
were printed in the T&T Guardian in the
Seepersad Naipaul was the centre of
attention on the evening of October 9
when the Friends of Mr Biswas and the
National Library hosted a talk by American
professor Aaron Eastley on the elder
Naipaul s newspaper writing career.
Eastley is the director of graduate studies
at Brigham Young University in Utah. His
talk was part of a series of events planned
by the Friends of Mr Biswas to focus on
the role of T&T journalists. The next in
the series, later this month, will be a talk
by former T&T Guardian editor-in-chief
Lennox Grant on Patrick Chokolingo.
The Central correspondent
Naipaul (1906 -- 1953) was the T&T
Guardian s "Central correspondent" in the
early 1930s. He worked for the paper for
three periods, from 1929 up to just before
his death in 1953.
At the time, said Eastley, the Guardian
was conservative and exclusive; it wrote
for the white urban elite in Port-of-Spain.
But led by a new editor, Galt MacGowan,
the paper decided, from 1929 to the early
1930s, to modernise, and liven up its menu
by appealing to a wider audience, with
more local content. Seepersad Naipaul was
hired as the paper s very first East Indian
It was a collaboration which paid off,
said Eastley, at least for a few short years---
a time when Seepersad Naipaul discovered
a whole new expressive profession---one
which not only let him write stories, but
editorialise through them, and sometimes
even take part in them. Guardian sales
rose; and readers in remoter parts of the
island had something different to read.
Amazingly, Seepersad was largely self-
taught. Eastley sketched for the audience
Seepersad s "harsh home life"---coming
from a broken home, he was farmed out
to relatives; he helped raise cows and goats
in the mornings before going to school
every day barefoot.
In all likelihood, this Naipaul would have
faced a future of rural obscurity. Yet in
school, and out of it, he taught himself
to read, write, and understand more of
the world around him. Literacy was the
key to his escape from the canefields.
That Seepersad became a writer at all
was incredible, said Eastley: "The story
of Seepersad the journalist is a story of
perseverance and luck, audacity, delusion
and resilience," he said, as he shared with
the audience his admiration for a man
who may have been quirky and over-the-
top, but who persisted, despite various
setbacks, to make his own mark in the
Seepersad loved a lively, unusual story.
This not only delighted his editor Mac-
Gowan; it tickled T&T audiences, giving
truth to the idea that sometimes, people
want more than just the facts.
Seepersad loved to write engaging stories
about ordinary people---often very short
stories, yet well told, conjuring up vivid
scenes with economy and effective sensory
Eastley introduced Seepersad s writing
style with quotes from his work, including
this one, the start of a story about an old
man: "Alone, uncared and unlooked for,
save for the sentinel presence of a faithful
dog that seldom leaves his master s bed-
side, a man crippled with age lies conva-
lescing from a long illness in a tiny, palm-
thatched cabin that he s built with his
own hands among the lone coconut palms
on the Caroni coast."
Right away, Seepersad gets the reader
involved in this old man s plight---despite
his derelict, lonesome circumstances, the
old man soldiers on in the tiny cabin he s
bravely built for himself.
Another quote, this time from a crime
story, showed Seepersad s love of active,
emotive language---the kind that uses
screaming headlines, urgent verbs and sen-
sational details to sell newspapers: "Green-
eyed jealousy made this man kill the only
woman he loved, hack a man to death,
sever the right hand of another and deprive
a 16-year-old youth of an ear." It was a
lively story about domestic violence.
In some stories, Eastley said Seepersad
entertained people with enthusiastic tales
of personal adventures---including, once,
staking out a haunted house to try to cap-
ture ghosts. Another time, Seepersad wrote
about spending the night with frogs in a
tree---after being knocked off his bike.
Continues on Page B2
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
...a tribute to pioneering Indo-Trini reporter
Google is to release version 5.0 of its
Android operating system, code-
named Lollipop, today.
The company describes the update
as a "quantum leap forward," thanks
to its revamped design and new fea-
tures. Android already has an 84.7 per
cent share of global smartphone ship-
ments, according to research com-
pany IDC. But engineering chief, Hi-
roshi Lockheimer, told the BBC that
among his team s goals was making
Android more appealing to the busi-
"We ve made a concerted effort
around focusing on the enterprise-
use case," he said.
"If you think about it most people
only carry one device. The one device
that they carry (should) work for vari-
ous scenarios in their life---obviously
for personal use, but also if they want
to use it for corporate purposes.
"We wanted to make sure that Lol-
lipop is designed in such way that
corporations are happy to endorse it."
One example of this, he said, was
the ability for a user to have both a
personal and work "personality" on a
single device---and the ability to
switch "seamlessly" between them.
Google readies Android Lollipop release
VS and Shiva Naipaul's father Seepersad Naipaul who worked as a T&T Guardian
journalist between 1929 and 1953.
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