Laxhmie Kallicharran. was my classmate at Berbice Educational Institute, in New Amsterdam. Our mothers grew up in the same village, Bush Lot, West Berbice. I met her parents in a West Indian store, in Toronto, few months ago. I knew her grandparents (father side).



May her soul rest in peace
I LEARNED the tragic news of the death of Laxhmie Kallicharran.

I will miss Laxhmie very much. I knew her since the late 1960s, when she was living at Sir James, West Coast Berbice.

At that time I was living at Britannia, West Coast Berbice, and she often drove through the area in her Austin Mini Minor, popularly referred to as a "matchbox".

She seemed to astound all the young men since it was generally unusual to see young teenage girls driving cars in those days.

We were good friends when she worked at the University of Guyana as a librarian in the early 1970s.

Often she would secure books in scarce circulation for me -- especially those on 24-hour loan.

She got married to Halim Majeed, who was also a friend of mine, but that marriage did not last.

She maintained the friendship with me and with all she was associated with since those days of the 1960s and 1970s to the day she died.

I followed her career in the field of Guyanese culture, and felt great pride that the little country girl from my home district of West Coast Berbice had risen to such great prominence in the area that she loved so much.

She herself won great admiration for her work that she did on radio, and particularly for the versatile manner in which she explained Indian cultural forms and the Hindi language to her audience.

She became an expert in Indo-Guyanese culture and history, and from time to time I drew on her knowledge, experience and research.

Every time she came to New York, she would give me a telephone call to ask me how I was doing, and so on.

The last time I saw her in person was in September 2000 in New York when President Bharrat Jagdeo was there to address the UN General Assembly.

During the evening he was the guest speaker at the convention of Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). Laxhmie was there.

After the function she joined us for an informal late dinner at the Kaieteur

Restaurant in Richmond Hill and we all enjoyed her company as we dined on duck curry, fried rice, chowmein, roti and plain rice.

That dinner ended after 1:00 a.m.

I read Moses Nagamootoo's touching tribute in the Sunday Chronicle.

His stirring poem reflects the emotion that all of us who counted her as our friend feel at this time.

For me, I will always miss her bubbling personality, her twinkling eyes and her uninhibited laughter.

May her soul rest in peace.

Lesson from Laxhmie's passing
AMONG the many benefits I derived from being a member of the Guyana National Service during the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s was a solid appreciation for Guyana's multicultural heritage.

That love is enduring and it inspires and guides much of the work that I do today as the Chairman of the Department of African American Studies at Ohio University.

Central to the development of my appreciation for Guyana's multiculturalism is Laxhmie Kallicharran.

I first met Laxhmie at the Kimbia Training Centre in 1976. I remember the meeting vividly.

I was the Education Officer at the centre and she had come to evaluate our collection of books we had in the library. She wanted to see if our collection was representative of Guyana's heritage and was supportive of the nation's ambitions for the future.

We passed her scrutiny.

During that visit Laxhmie and I talked about the things that Guyanese literature should be exploring, especially the common themes that run through the history and lives of Guyanese people.

I remember vividly to this day, her explanation of the ideas and principles behind Diwali. To this day, on Diwali, I think not only of diyas and lights, but of justice and renewal.

I continued to work with Laxhmie after I left GNS and joined the Guyana

Broadcasting Corporation as Programme Director, Culture.

Laxhmie helped me with my mission of giving Guyanese expression a place on the radio waves. As an independent producer, she had innovative production ideas.

She was not anchored to the studio. She brought the voices of the people to the airwaves.

Laxhmie was there when we organised the first Folk Festival to celebrate all of Guyana's folk traditions.

I found Laxhmie to be an unselfish colleague when I served as the Secretary of the Guyana Commemoration Commission. She played an important role in the development of the Heritage Days programme.

At every step, she was there, participating in the discourse on how to find and celebrate the things that connected us as a creole people.

My last conversations with her were about the popularity of Kali Mai Poojas among Guyanese of African ancestry. We never finished that conversation.

With the passing of Laxhmie, Guyana has lost another stalwart. Lakshmi now joins Joel Benjamin, another one of those unselfish Guyanese who understood that as creole people we have rich particular stories to tell.

I hope the passing of Laxhmie and the earlier passing of Joel Benjamin will cause our political leadership to focus attention on the importance of collecting and preserving our heritage.

From what I am told and what I have read, the Guyana Archives and other collections of our history are in shambles, in a very poor state.

VK, I will miss you and thanks for talking with me that Saturday in 1976 at the GNS, Kimbia.

Guyana has lost a great daughter
I WAS much saddened by the news of the untimely passing of Ms. Laxhmie Kallicharran.

Guyana has lost a great daughter.

Laxhmie's death was made even more tragic when one realises that she was the victim of the way of life that has become Guyana.

News reports stress that Laxhmie slept in a home that was barricaded against forces that would attack, and have attacked, the sanctity of her home.

Laxhmie was forced to live in a fortress to protect herself from barbarians.

But tragically it appears, that though such extreme measures kept the evils outside at bay, it served to act as a restraint in the desperate attempt to escape the evils that can spread from within. Laxhmie could not escape the fire that raged in her home.

In all my travels around the world, I have never seen homes in which the residents felt the need to design them like fortresses.

Why? Who are we being invaded by?

As I a shed a tear for the tragedy that is Guyana, I say Rest In Peace, Laxhmie.

January, 29, 2002