Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2015 Contents A4
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 10, 2015
Even though Magistrate Alicia
Chankar is an accomplished
woman with a thriving career, she
says her most prized achievement
is becoming a mom.
Chankar, a single mother of boys---
Shameel, 14, and Aamir, 13---said
being a mother was unparalleled and
she would not trade it for anything
in the world.
"You see this magistrate thing and
everything else, nothing compares
to being a mommy. I love it, love it,
love it," she gushed.
The accomplished magistrate, who
has sat on the bench for 11 years, is
known for her tough and at times
intimidating courtroom persona, but
she chose to let her guard down in
an interview with the Sunday
Guardian, at her San Fernando home,
about her life and her successes.
The closeness and love between
Chankar, Shameel and Aamir are
obvious throughout the interview,
especially when the boys tease her
about her "glam" look and she blows
kisses as she chats.
'Things do fall apart, but it is
not the end of the world'
Chankar s road to success was not
an easy one. She found herself forced
to start life over again after she and
her husband split following three
years of a contentious marriage.
At the time she was three months
pregnant with son Aamir and raising
her five-month-old son Shameel.
Chankar said there were times
when she cried a lot and prayed
steadfastly for strength.
Without the support of her par-
ents Rajnath and Rosie, she said, she
could not be where she is today.
Her father s support and advice
gave her the strength she needed to
move on and was surprising, given
that her parents came from an
arranged marriage and a traditional
"My daddy said there is no shame
in divorce, the shame is being mar-
ried and pretending you have a mar-
riage. He said we are here for you,
and that is all I needed. When I knew
I had that I could do it. Parents out
there need to see past rose-coloured
shades or think that this is what
society wants and knows," she said.
Chankar, who is happily single,
said women must remember that
they have the strength to do anything
they wanted to on their own and
could shape their children into the
citizens they wanted for T&T.
"We are the poster family for sin-
gle parenting," she quipped, saying
her sons were grounded and settled.
Her parents support was crucial
to this, she stressed.
"I have the most amazing parents.
When I go to court and I see what
children are faced with sometimes
or the kind of life people have, I pray
everyday and say thank you God for
the parents that you have sent me,"
---Never give up
Chankar said along the way there
were moments when she felt like
giving up and questioned whether
she could do it on her own.
However, she said, she reminded
herself that she was the pillar for
her children and she had the support
of her parents and siblings.
She also credited her best friend,
Ronnie Persad, for helping her
through her difficult times.
"I know what it is like to say Oh
God, how am I going to balance, to
make the salary work to do this and
to do that. But God is great, he has
been absolutely fantastic and I have
a Quick Shoppe next door (her par-
ent s home) the 24/7, it never clos-
es---whether you need money, gro-
ceries, or love, or advice," she joked.
Her advice to women facing sim-
ilar situations: "Never give up."
"Besides the LLB and whatever,
the mom and the Mrs is what I really
wanted. I did not get through too
good on the Mrs, but the mom
makes up for it. I tell people marriage
is a wonderful thing and I highly
recommend it at least once, and you
have to try it. I am not bitter, I think
that it is really good. Get married
and have both parents together and
work at it. But I also say, if it cannot
work do not force it."
Chankar said she and her children
were on their own since Shameel
was a year and Aamir was just three
months, so "all they know is me. I
am mummy and daddy. Sometimes
they call me Mr Mom."
She said the relation between she
and her former spouse was cordial
Looking back, Chankar said she
had no regrets nor was there any-
thing she would change.
"If I did, then it would mean I
regretted Shameel and Aamir and
they are my reason for being," she
Family is everything
Chankar, who now presides over
the Point Fortin Second Court,
described herself as a "little girl from
Wellington Road, Debe" who is a
devout Hindu and family oriented.
She commended all mothers and
fathers who fulfilled their roles,
because "it is not an easy task."
Her childhood years were spent
in humble circumstances.
As a child, she recalled, there were
times when she and her five siblings
had to share one bed in a downstairs
room at her grandmother s home in
"We would sleep crossways on
the bed and with curtains separating
us. We learnt what was a "dathwan"
(hibiscus twig used as a toothbrush)
and to bathe by the stand pipe.
Continues on Page A17
Magistrate Alicia Chankar:
Mom credential my greatest asset
Senior Magistrate Alicia Chankar
with her two boys Shameel
Mohammed, left, and Aamir 13,
at their San Fernando home.
PHOTOS: RISHI RAGOONATH
"My daddy said there is no
shame in divorce, the shame is
being married and pretending
you have a marriage."
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