Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 13th 2015 Contents A25
No matter what colour she wears,
she commands fearful respect.
A pathway is often cleared for her
entrance and many look on with
smiles, tinged with fear. Even police
officers stay clear, some babies and
small children turn away in horror
while others, fascinated with innocent
curiosity, attempt to grab or tug at
her.She represents our culture and is
Erzulie, the La Diablesse, is a com-
bination of the traditional character
dame lorraine and jab molassie, and
was birthed during the Carnival 2015
season by Tracey Sankar-Charleau.
With the merging of the two, Sankar-
Charleau has introduced a new aspect
of the character called the Fancy Jab.
As far as she knows, while women
have been known to "dab on some
blue paint on J Ouvert morning," she
is the only female to have competed
and won in the Blue Devil category
in traditional mas.
Sankar-Charleau would be the first
to tell you that she has had to over-
reach her goals.
In fact, she has recently had to face
her biggest challenge, one which
almost overwhelmed her and her four
children---Nathaniel, Joshua, Jesse
On October 30, this year, while
portraying a grisly character from
Day of the Dead, Sankar-Charleau
received a call that her estranged hus-
band had been shot. Cpl Shervaun
Raphael Charleau, 39, a Special Force
soldier for 16 years, later died in her
arms that fateful morning.
"I knew something was wrong. I
had a headache that just would not
go away, and a terrible feeling of nau-
seau. I was performing, but not in
full character, because my gut told
me something was wrong," she
Charleau was shot once in the head
while parked in his car at Fort George,
St James. He had been in the company
of a 23-year-old woman from Mor-
vant. According to the police, the
young woman reported the shooting
to officers at the St James Police Sta-
tion shortly after. His service pistol
and 45 rounds of ammunition were
stolen. Charleau was rushed to the
St James Health Facility, but later died
at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
Investigations are continuing.
And while speculation still sur-
rounds the circumstances of her hus-
band s death, she remembers him
being present every time she won a
competition. It s what one will see
on her Facebook page where she
fondly pays tribute to "Papa
Their marriage, she said, had been
in turmoil for the last ten years. But
choosing to focus first on the family,
Sankar-Charleau stressed that her
husband was the ultimate father.
"He was in everything, some
teachers knew him more than me.
His work and his death, and even the
circumstances of his death, will never
stain his relationship with them (his
children)," she stated fiercely.
What she chooses to remember
was his unending support when she
first started performing as a Blue
Devil. His quiet calm and words of
encouragement when she was tired
at the studio at Belmont, "playing
around with a concept till the wee
hours of the morning." His standing
in as Mr Mom when she was busy
envisioning, creating and portraying
a new character.
Her portrayal has left her with
minor injuries, chemical burns, and
even an infected right lung and severe
bronchitis following a fire-breathing
performance. Through it all, she
remembered him being in the back-
ground, just being there for them.
She recalled too, Charleau at her
side while she portrayed Erzulie at
Victoria Square, during the annual
Traditional Night mas event. He knew
and supported her intent to not just
act the part, but to be the charac-
ter.Dressed in bridal white, sporting
long white horns on either side of
her face---a mask of blackened eyes
and lips, Erzulie hobbles, bows, and
sweeps the floor with her palm leaves,
as onlookers continue to clear a path.
Even her portrayal of the fire-
breathing Blue Devil, face painted
red, matching Victorian bustier and
half bustle, is looked on by spectators
with grudging respect.
Continues on Page A26
Tracey Sankar-Charleau gets
into character for Blue Devil.
Tracey Sankar-Charleau portrays Jab Jab.
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