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
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
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
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
She became an expert in Indo-Guyanese
culture and history, and from time to time I drew on her knowledge, experience
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
That dinner ended after 1:00
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
AMBASSADOR ODEEN ISHMAEL
Lesson from Laxhmie's
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
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
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
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
At every step, she was there, participating
in the discourse on how to find and celebrate the things that connected us as a
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
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.
VIBERT C. CAMBRIDGE, PH.D.
Guyana has lost a great
I WAS much saddened by the news of the untimely passing of Ms. Laxhmie Kallicharran.
Guyana has lost a great
Laxhmie's death was made even more tragic
when one realises that she was the victim of the way of life that has become
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
Why? Who are we being invaded
As I a shed a tear for the tragedy that is
Guyana, I say Rest In Peace, Laxhmie.
January, 29, 2002