Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 31st 2015 Contents A16
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 31, 2015
CHARLES KONG SOO
When centenarian Mahadaye
Padarath was being courted by her
then future husband, Pariag Padarath,
it literally led to a rocky marriage---she
threw a stone at him and "bussed" his
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on
the eve of Indian Arrival Day at her
Bassie Street, Spring Village, home, the
vibrant 101-year-old Padarath reminisced
about her life.
She was born on March 11, 1914, and
has outlived six of her eight children,
with 18 grandchildren, 18 great-grand-
children and great-great grandchildren.
Padarath lives by herself in the home
she helped build with her deceased hus-
band; her family live nearby and they
check in on "Nani."
She still cooks and cleans for herself,
although her home has modern appli-
ances such as a stove, refrigerator and
washing machine to make life easier.
Padarath has a chulha in her backyard
that she still cooks in as "food taste
better when it cook on a chulha" and
her favourite food is sweet rice.
When asked about her secret to
longevity, she said she got up every
morning to do puja at 5 am, eschewed
meat, preferring fruits and vegetables,
and was a teetotaller and non-smoker.
Sitting in her hammock, Padarath
said, "I married when I was 12 years.
My father start to work and a boy passed
and used to trouble me. "He tell me he
like me to get married. I tell him don t
like me, I don t have nothing, these are
little children, you better find your place
and go. "And I take a stone and pelt him
and buss his head."
She said her father, Manohar, told her
that they were poor and he couldn t
afford a dowry. Padarath said the boy
still persisted, saying the lack of a dowry
wouldn t be an impediment, and so they
did eventually marry. Her father had
told her if the boy he liked her, rather
than have him kidnap her, she should
Padarath said she didn t know any-
thing about marriage, she couldn t cook,
she was too young to bear children and
she used to go back home to her parents.
She lived with her in-laws in El Dorado
for several years and then moved to
Spring Village with Pariag.
Her fondest memories were of the
times she went out with her husband.
He would take her to see the whole
country and she enjoyed singing bhagans
at events. Padarath said her mother was
born aboard a ship bringing Indian
indentured labourers to Trinidad to work
in the canefields.
She said she grew up in Penal, which
had abundant water and pitch oil. Later,
an aunt came, gave her father money
and told him he had to leave Penal,
whereupon an uncle helped them relo-
cate to Curepe.
Padarath said the family rented and
moved around a lot. She said she faced
many hardships growing up, with no
resting place. Her father was very poor
and was an itinerant worker, her mother
had no proper home, they rented a little
ajoupa "bush house shack." She didn t
go to school and had to work, and they
depended on the kindness of neighbours
to give them food.
Padarath said people gave them
clothes, everybody used to feel sorry for
them and the family "rallied out."
Padarath said she worked for 20 cents
a day doing back-breaking labour for
Caroni cutting cane, cutlassing, salting,
bundling cane, pulling and digging para
grass from 7 am to 4 pm. She said the
overseer abused the workers, treating
them like dogs sometimes. If they were
given a task and they were unable to do
it, they would be beaten and cursed.
Padarath said if the workers left the
job, they were not paid. After she finished
work in the canefields, she had to see
about her children; she drew water from
a spring in her yard and developed cal-
louses on her hands from pulling the
rope and bucket.
Padarath said she planted rice, had
to look for dry wood to cook on a fireside,
washed clothes, and built her house,
even when pregnant and barefoot.
She said in those days 20 cents could
buy a big basket of food: flour and rice
were a penny a pound and a little salt
fish. Padarath said her husband used to
help with the chores but when he drank
rum he used to beat her sometimes.
She said some husbands brutalised
their wives if they had another woman
and they spent all their money in the
rum shop. She said if she could talk to
Mai, 101, still cooks on her chula
abusive men today she would tell
them don t pass it on and talk it
out. Padarath told her husband she
wouldn t remarry if he passed.
After long, arduous years, her lot
improved and she received the
handsome fee of $50 a day and a
long service award from Caroni
upon her retirement.
She said things were "plenty bet-
ter" now in T&T, she wanted noth-
ing and her advice was to make
oneself happy. Padarath s message
to the East Indian community and
by extension all of T&T was to do
something good and make the
country better as there was too
much crime. "We have to unite
together, that is most important,
and think good," she said.
Padarath wished the nation a
Happy Indian Arrival Day. Ena
Maraj, president of the Global
Organisation of the People of Indian
Origin (Gopio) in T&T, presented
Padarath with a plaque in honour
of her inspiring life story.
Padarath with her chulha
at her Bassie Street, Spring
Village, home. PHOTOS
CHARLES KONG SOO
performing her daily
devotions at her home.
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