Obituary: Bala Chetty

By Dawood Auleear

Bala Chetty, aka Bala Long, not to be confused with his maternal cousin Bala Milate, passed away on Friday 13 August after a long illness leaving behind numerous friends and admirers to mourn his departure.

Bala was the eldest child of Kathan Chetty, a well-known big planter, in fact the only big planter of Grand Bay.

Bala was a lively character, a sympathetic young man, an avid listener, a ready to help individual. His main occupation was to look after his father’s plantation, do the round of the fields on his BSA motorcycle. The motorbike was an impressive status symbol at that time with Grand Bay having in all three owners of this two-wheeled locomotive.

His apparent wealth and the charismatic nature attracted many people to seek Bala’s help for all and sundry. He would settle quarrels between feuding groups and would be propelled to the front line to start social and sports activities. He was thus an important architect in the creation of Model Youth football club. At a time when regional football was prospering and regional tournaments were drawing crowds of thousands in village stadiums on Sunday afternoons, Model Youth club was competing and hoping to win the Cup. They did not achieve their ambition to be regional champions but Model Youth did become a nursery supplying several players to the national team.

Bala was also enthusiastic about politics; he fought, and won village council elections several times. In the national legislative elections he stood as a candidate for the PMSD but he was not successful. However, he did not give up his ideal of what politics should be – service to the people. His participation in active social and political activities diminished through old age and illness until he passed away peacefully. Alas, because of the constraint imposed by the hated Covid-19, attendance at his funeral was limited to close relatives and neighbours.

Aatmashantya dayotatam, dear Bala.

* Published in print edition on 10 September 2021

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