A Guru and a Paragon of Self-Sacrifice

In Memoriam: Deorishi Boolell

On 13 July 2013, Deorishi Boolell (affectionately known as “Tipapa”) left this world, in the usual serene demeanour which characterized his whole life. His last moments were spent watching the news on television and joking with Shivrani, who was by his side when he took his final breath.

The farewell of Tipapa has brought to the surface all the loving memories of those who had the privilege of sharing his life. Chandni, who has been always by his side, confided to me that without her « Phoupa » she would not have been an accomplished lady. He graced her with paternal love and inspired her to be humble but noble. Chandni and her husband Sonah are acknowledged within the family circle as models of magnanimity. All nephews and nieces who were besides Satish and Hema on Sunday 14 July 2013 could not hide their grief to have lost « Tipapa ». We were remembering those years when he would bring « goyaves de chine » in his blue Volkswagen for us and sit in the veranda to chat with his mother and brothers Bhoomithtre and Satcam.

From his modest roots at Gros Billot/New Grove to his life later on in Port Louis and Quatre Bornes, it had been an ongoing struggle for Tipapa, his brothers and sisters according to my father Bhoomithre. Tipapa, like the other boys and girls, went to New Grove RCA primary school and from there the brothers went to Rose Belle School. Our Dadi, Cossilah Boolell (one of the first women who played an active role in the Arya Samaj movement in Mauritius) would always boost their morale so that they could achieve their ambitions. My father always recites as a mantra « mo maman ti ena ene grand vision et mo papa (Sahadeo) ti dire l’éducation d’abord et le reste passe après!». But at that time few families would value the importance of being a polyglot, of learning history and culture and of securing a seat in a good college.

Beyond the realm of family life, many people will undoubtedly remember fondly the dedication of Tipapa towards the Gayasingh Ashram, one of the very cornerstones of his existence. Throughout his life, he worked tirelessly to ensure that the Ashram remains a spiritual and healing place, which would provide a meaningful existence to deprived girls and old people. Helping to manage that Ashram was in many ways his profession of faith.

In his quiet and resolute manner, Tipapa pursued with unwavering faith the work of Pandit Gayasingh (a staunch disciple of the Arya Samaj movement) whilst striving to preserve the values of the patriarch Sahadeo Boolell. I would quote here Nelson, “I have done my duty”; these were surely the last words which show the true spirit of humility of our uncle. A sense of duty is the safeguard of a family, a community and a nation. The poet Anon defines it judiciously:

“Straight is the line of duty,

Curved is the line of beauty,

Keep to the first and thou shalt find

The second follow thee.”

Duty was his support and an antidote to pain. His friends in the Ashram, namely Satyanarain Ramenah who is another social worker, said to me that Deorishi Boolell is a rare example of devotion to duty.

Tipapa might have gone quietly but he leaves behind him a strong legacy of what it means to care selflessly for others, especially for the deprived. Whilst memories will fade over time, the footprint of Tipapa will remain forever etched on the soul of the Gayasingh Ashram.

* Published in print edition on 19 July  2013

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