An elder who learnt about Kistnaji’s story from one of his elders related it to me recently. Kistnaji (not his real name) a young Mauritian Marathi, had an innate gift: he designed and fabricated metal decorative brackets, gates, chairs, small occasional tables and plant pot stands. His creativity earned him the nickname of ‘Ingenieur’.
Ingenieur designed a bridge for a road entering the city and which was duly presented to the authorities. In those days of the early 20th century, a non-white was not supposed to demonstrate such intelligence. Mocked and berated by the people in authority, the irked young man gave as good as he got and played into the hands of his tormentors. He was promptly arrested and ended up in prison where he was conveniently forgotten – though a victim of a grave injustice.
Ingenieur lived, showed his ingenuity and made his mark albeit an insignificant one for some and suffered at the hands of the authorities. From time to time at small gatherings the elders of the Mauritian Marathi community talked about him. Unfortunately the intellectuals and politicians of the community have allowed that poor young man to be conveniently forgotten — no political points to be gained here.
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 2 September 2022
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