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Saturday, April 7, 2018.

Address by Arjune Teeluck on the occasion of the visit to the home of Centenarian Sadvi Phool Jankie by The High Commissioner of India to Trinidad & Tobago.

Namaste, Sita Ram, Salaam:

Let me first, on the behalf of Centenarian Sadvi Phool Jankie and family; extend our warmest welcome to His Excellency the High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago, Shri Biswadip Dey, and (Shrimati Dey). It is indeed a great honour and privilege for us all to be graced, honourable Sir, by your Excellency’s esteemed presence. We extend special welcome also to other distinguished members of your office for joining with us on this special occasion. This is the very first visit of a High Commissioner of India to our humble village home. Realize-Mandingo.

Ma - Sadvi Phool Jankie recently celebrated her 100th birthday: She is the matriarch of this family. One that has always cherished our rich Indo-ancestral, religio-cultural heritage. It is noteworthy to mention however, that while we have always maintained this sacred loyalty to India, our loyalty to this land of our birth has not in any way been compromised. Here we always refer lovingly to Trinidad and Tobago as ‘mother Trinidad and Tobago’ and to India, as ‘grandmother India’.

Sadvi Phool Jankie and her late Husband, Sadhu Teeluck Jankie came from a line of ‘Sadhus’. Janki Sadhu, father of Teeluck Jankie came from a rural village, Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sadhu Teeluck Jankie was well versed in Hindi (Bhojpuri) and had a good understanding of Sanskrit. He would read religiously from the holy Ramayana and the Mahabharata daily. He would lead in regular nightly ‘satsangs’ both here at home and at the homes of villagers. Ma on the other hand, had an exemplary grasp of our oral folk traditions. She would tell us stories in her own unique style that were oftentimes filled with humour but which were always as intellectually stimulating as they were soulfully edifying.

Let me entertain you with one of her more popular stories, a comedy: This story is about a ‘dotish’ king (dotish - foolish/simpleton) who ruled over a dotish kingdom. Now one day while this dotish king was having a dotish meeting with his dotish ministers, a dotish ‘sepahi’ (policeman) disturbed the meeting shouting, “King, king, somebody just killed a man in the courtyard”. The king promptly replied, “Well go and hang the killer”. The sepahi left but soon returned shouting again, “King, king, our noose does not fit the killer’s neck”. The king replied; “Then, hang anyone who the noose fits”! Epilogue: Now because of this incident, all the people of the kingdom continuously reminded each other of this incident and so were always vigilant in ensuring that no one killed anyone. There were no other murders in the kingdom to this day!). Moral: Don’t hang someone just because they fit your noose.

I am sure you enjoyed this story and that you would agree with in calling for these stories be compiled in book from, so that the future may not be denied of it rich literary content.

In conclusion my dear brothers and sisters,

I am reminded to tell you that soon we will be publishing an autobiography titled, “Centenarian Sadvi Phool Jankiji”. This publication will surly serve to remind us of one who is the very embodiment of our Indo-Caribbean experience. Ma Janki, our family, relatives, villagers and the entire Indo-Caribbean diaspora, can justly be proud of this legacy and for this tribute by Your Excellency, High Commissioner of India, land of our ancestors. Today we celebrate our ‘PRIDE OF PLACE’ and on behalf of Ma, as she is lovingly called by all our villagers regardless of race or religion, we thank you all or being part of this tremendous experience.

Thank you.

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