Mind Your Language
Le Pandit Nehru au Cachemire
As kids, we could never, ever imagine that one day our small island of Mauritius would become independent. So, we as Indo-Mauritians prided ourselves on India’s independence. Each year, on 15 August, whilst Christians celebrated La Vierge1, Indo-Mauritians celebrated the independence of India.
In many homes — especially in the rural areas — one could find hanging on the wall photographs of freedom fighters like Subhas Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru along with those of King George V, Queen Elizabeth II, and various Hindu deities.
On one occasion in the late 1950s, Parbhu Bahonoy, our late brother-in-law was spending the weekend at our place. He had studied only up to Standard IV at the primary school and later started working in the Public Works Department. He did manage however, with some help, to read the newspapers which were mostly in French.
So, that Saturday, as he was proceeding to read the now defunct daily Advance, his attention was straightaway drawn to a headline on the very front page, “Le Pandit Nehru au Cachemire”2. Little did our dear Bahonoy know that such titles as Sir, Pandit, Don or Lord are not usually translated and thought the worse had happened.
In a panic, he stopped reading and called out to my eldest brother as loudly as possible. “Eh do, Darshan, awo, dekh, hamni ke Nehru ke Kasmir mein phansi charrha delan sa!”3
Dr B Foogooa
1. Assumption Day
2. Pandit (hanged in Creole) Nehru in Kashmir
3. Eh Darshan, come have a look, they have hanged our Nehru in Kashmir