Chartered Accountant, Economist, Teacher and Journalist
Our Lives a Parenthesis in Eternity
He came from humble beginnings. He was in the British Army. Through self-study he became an accountant. His glittering career included Income Tax Commissioner and the United Nations. His time in this world was short, like a shooting star which brightens the night sky for a brief moment and is gone.
Victor, Jeet Gangadin was born on October 9, 1924, at Bath Estate, West Coast Berbice. He was the 2nd child and eldest son of 9 children to canecutter Thomas Taylor Gangadin and Bhagwantia Jani. He died when he was only 55 years old.
The name Victor Gangadin is widely known. Recorded in this short biography are contributions from Victor’s family, in particular his daughter Maggie, and from Samuel Singh, Roy Yerrakadu and Maurice Solomon, Victor’s close friends and contemporaries at work and socially.
Victor only attended primary school up to second standard. He then went to live with his uncle Sidnauth Jani in Blairmont and worked in the Estate Office as Bookkeeping Clerk or an Office Boy. He had some problems with the Head Bookkeeper. He was summarily dismissed and physically taken out of the office.
Bath Estate, was a sugarcane growing plantation part of the Blairmont Estate complex which also included Providence on the East Bank of Berbice River. Bath, more commonly known as Sixteen, had a thriving population in the early years, with school, shops including rum shop, pay office, temple and masjid. . At the time of Victor’s growing up years, the management comprised an Administration Manager, a Deputy Manager, and a Head Overseer. These top three lived in large houses with plenty of yard space and lovely gardens. The three Overseers lived in an apartment complex with separate independent units for each of them. They were provided meals at an adjacent “Mess House”.
Victor left Blairmont at around 16 years old without his parents’ permission and went to Georgetown to join the Army. He was in the infantry. This was a significant juncture in Victor’s early career.
Roy Yerrakadu, FCIS FCCA, a close friend, met Victor through his brother Harry. At that time Victor was an Inspector of Taxes. Roy tells of Victor’s early years in these recollections:
‘He joined the British Guiana Home Guard during World War 11 and rose to the rank of Corporal. One day while as Private he was packing Corned Beef Cartons on a shelf. He had an argument with his Sargent and told the Sargent that if he didn’t stop fretting that he would throw a carton on him. The Sergeant said “Throw it” and Victor did. Fortunately it wasn’t designed to hit the Sergeant but rather to express frustration. Victor was put under Military Detention.
‘The Librarian said to Victor that instead of always getting into trouble he should read a book. The book she gave him was “Introduction to Bookkeeping by Routley”. Victor read the book and started to work out an exercise. He checked the answer and it was correct. He did another and found it was done correctly and so he continued throughout. This was his start into the Accounting Profession.’
When the war ended, Victor decided to stay in Georgetown as job opportunities were better there. He got a job doing bookkeeping at Ramson’s.
He married Selina Gafooran Bacchus on November 17th 1946. He had met her whilst he was in the Army. She was working at the Chronicle newspaper at the time.
While in work doing bookkeeping, Victor started to study via a correspondence course to obtain qualifications in accountancy. At his young age, like everyone else, Victor wanted a good job, to earn good money and to make a good living. He had perhaps not been aware that he had put his foot on the first rung of the ladder of outstanding achievements in what blossomed into a brilliant career, outstanding by any measure.
The correspondence course was run by Wolsey Hall, in Oxford, England. This was the option for many people who could not attend University or a college to obtain a qualification ranging from the Senior Cambridge certificate, to a university degree or a professional qualification.
From around 1947 to 1963, Victor studied at home assiduously and one by one he passed examinations leading to the professional qualifications.
During this time, Victor also had the responsibility of a family, his wife and young children. Their children were born during the same period when he was studying. Their first was son Krishna, Suraj (Tommy) born on Aug 10th, 1947, followed by daughter Sobhana Swatantri (Joan) on Aug 17th, 1949. Second son Vijai Janak (Pappy) was born on Oct 5th, 1950 followed by Chandra Gupta (Mickey) on July 22nd 1953 and lastly Margaret Mary Indira, born on an 22, 1956.
Roy detailed Victor’s success at the accountancy examinations:
‘He passed the examinations of the Corporation of Certified Secretaries (ACCS). He continued his studies for the Association of Certified and Corporate Accountants (ACCA).
‘When he wrote the Section 1 of the finals he failed one subject. In those days you had to repeat all the papers. There was a concession that you could write Section 1 and Section 2 together in those circumstances. Victor has the record of being the only person in British Guiana to pass both Sections at one sitting, all thirteen subjects.
‘Many people have the academic and professional qualification of Victor but it was the circumstances under which he did it. No formal schooling after second standard of Primary School. He passed BSc(Econ) and LLB from London University. When he attended the Commonwealth College of Taxation, he got first place.
‘Victor was concerned that because he didn’t attend High School that his English was not up to standard. He wrote the Wolsey Hall Adviser and his Adviser said that if his English was not up to standard he would have been told this and that his English was of a very high standard and said that he always admired the use of English by Indians. His Adviser said that the best Department in English is not at Oxford or Cambridge but at Madras University. Victor did study English at a professional level as English was a subject at the Inter ACCS.’
Victor was admitted to membership of the ACCA in 1952. He would have passed the ACCS a few years earlier. He obtained his BSc(Econ) degree in 1958 and the LLB degree in 1963.
Victor’s decision to study to become an accountant was remarkable. Considering his background, it showed he had ambition to be self supporting, and to eventually break out of the limitations of working in the sugar plantation or as an employee under someone else.
He did not have the benefit of High School education. Indeed at that time, it would not have been a serious option. Very few of his contemporaries from Blairmont or from the countryside would have gone to High School. This was due mainly to the high cost which only few families could afford -fees, travel expenses or boarding and lodging, plus the fact that there was only one high school, Berbice High School, within reach by road or rail from Blairmont. There were very few high schools in the country in Victor’s time, some in Georgetown and there was Corentyne High School.
His decision also demonstrated that his horizons were far beyond what might be expected of someone for whom the role models in his day – the top people from among the ordinary folk, in his line of work were Head Bookkeepers. They would normally have acquired their knowledge and skills through years of work and learning from their superiors. The accountant was superior to Head Bookkeeper, someone with qualifications, invariably an exclusive breed of the Overseer class.
Victor was not only hard working and brainy as shown by his academic achievements, but he always seemed to look beyond his immediate day to day commitments. He decided to open his own school – Mercantile Academy in Thomas Street, Georgetown where he taught accounting. He also taught night classes at the University of Guyana.
Aside from his professional life, Victor played his part in lending his support to community affairs. He was a member of the Mahatma Gandhi Organisation, at Thomas Lands. He was good at speaking Hindi. He would have acquired the basics from his parents and the community at Bath Estate in his early years and improved on it while working at UNICEF. He also played cricket.
In 1956, Victor bought a house at 32 Anira Street, Queenstown, Georgetown. He moved his parents and some siblings in to live with him.
In the early 1960s Victor got a job at Inland Revenue, as a tax inspector. He very quickly moved to the top, becoming the Deputy Commissioner and then Income Tax Commissioner in around 1965.
As Income Tax Commissioner, the head of a government department anywhere, one would perhaps feel one has arrived, the time to enjoy all the perks of such a top level job and look forward to a good life. Not so with Victor. He was in 1964, only 40 years old, with an enviable record of academic achievement and at least another 15 years of working life ahead of him. He decided to make the brave move to leave his prestigious job, to scale another peak, -the challenge and honour of working for the United Nations.
Victor was offered a job with the United Nations as auditor for UNICEF division which he accepted and moved to New York in 1967 with his wife and children.
UNICEF -the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was created in 1946. A permanent part of the UN, it has become a driving force to work for children the world over, to secure children’s rights to protection, education, health care, shelter, good nutrition, freedom from poverty, violence, disease and discrimination. In 1954, The movie star Danny Kaye became UNICEF’s ‘Ambassador at Large.’ His film Assignment Children, about UNICEF’s work in Asia, has been seen by millions. Since then UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors from all over the world have given their time and energy selflessly to further its cause. These Goodwill Ambassadors included: Audrey Hepburn, Lord Richard Attenborough, Amitabh Bachchan, David Beckham, Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Moore, Serena Williams, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Mia Farrow, Sachin Tendulkar, Amir Khan, Novak Djokovic. UNICEF is active in more than 190 countries.
During Victor’s job with the UN he had to travel to various countries including India, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and few others.
Roy states this about Victor at UNICEF:
‘In 1967 Victor joined the Internal Audit Service of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). In this capacity he traveled to different countries doing financial and operational audit of UNICEF projects. It was a very satisfying work for Victor but after a while he was frustrated by the manner in which operations were carried out and also I believe that he was not given the level of seniority that was compatible with his experience and qualifications. He should have been recruited at the level of a Director instead of as a senior auditor…’
Victor resigned from the UN in 1969 as he felt that the children were not receiving all the help they were entitled to and moved back to Guyana.
He joined Barcellos & Company in 1969 at their office in Regent Street, Georgetown. They then moved to Broad Street and the company was renamed Barcellos, Gangadin & Company. Later they moved to Water Street in Kingston .
In 1972/3, Victor moved out on his own and started the practice Gangadin & Company, with the office by the Empire cinema, Georgetown. He then moved the office to 32 Anira Street. There he remained working until he died in April 11th, 1980.
The company was then taken over by two sons Vijai and Mickey. They carried on until Mickey died on Jan 18th 1984. Vijai then ran the company until his death in Aug 1997.
Victor’s accomplishments in his relatively short life is an essay on one person’s abundant energy, and his ever present thirst to venture into new experiences, to take up new challenges. From the time he left the shelter of his parental home to joining the Army, to studying to be an accountant, to his role as a top Civil Servant to his job at the UN, and starting his own practice, his spirit was perpetually alive to new worlds to conquer. One of these was writing.
The number and literary quality articles Victor has written for Guyana newspapers, revealed another of his gifts. He read extensively. He was erudite. His writings are scholarly, and could be mistaken for works of a professor of history, economics and literature all in one. Daughter Maggie and grandson Kiran have written summaries of Victor’s articles. Maggie introduces the articles:
‘My dad was an avid writer for both the Argosy and the Guyana Graphic Newspapers during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s on the economic and social conditions in Guyana …below are summaries of some of his articles’
‘Free conflict of thought avoids false indoctrination’
Article in the Argosy newspaper -Sunday March 4th, 1973
Summary by Kiran
This article deals mostly with the idea that the “Mass Media Empire” within Guyana at the time (March 4th, 1972). He started off by referring to a suggestion that “Mass Media Empire” in Guyana must be owned solely by the government. In Victor Jeet Gangadin’s analysis, doing this would simply brainwash the young of the country to develop into “human robots”. He stated that the government would be able to influence people on their ways of thinking, habits and behaviours and this takes away the freedom of thought and expression that is a basic human right. By giving government total control over what is publicly shown or not shown to the population is a slippery slope because they can manipulate the information as they please. Objectification can be better achieved by having privately owned firms working with the Mass Media. This would give a better overall picture of what may really be going on within the country. It is true that the Mass Media can be used as a tool to harness great opinions and circulate ideas but only when used correctly and not for the selfish agenda of a government or a private corporation solely.
‘Devaluation of Guyana Dollar’
Article in Guyana Graphic newspaper in 1971
Summary by Maggie
The Late Lord Keynes – one of the greatest Economists of our time once stated -“There is no subtler nor surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose ”
The Guyana dollar went from $1.70 G for $1 US, to $2G for $1 US and $1G for 4.8 British sterling to $1G for 5.2 British sterling.. This created exports to the US to be cheaper for the Americans and imports to be more costly for us. It also created higher interest to be paid to the UK on outstanding loans. Devaluation is a deliberate act in reducing the purchasing power of a nation’s currency in terms of the currency of other nations. This results in cheaper cost of sales to foreign markets and more expensive cost of buying foreign goods…..
‘Tax Exits Certificates’
Article in the Argosy Sunday June 27th 1971
Summary by Maggie.
The employed and self -employed are required by law to pay their taxes a year in advance before they are given a tax exit certificate in order to travel out of the country for business or vacation. The tax exit certificate expires in one month from the date of issue. This has caused several people to postpone or cancel their trips due to the Inland Revenue Dept taking more than one month to issue this certificate. The Dept showed no consideration for the loss of time and money involved on the part of the taxpayer. The taxpayer has the right to appeal to a Judge of the High Court against the Commissioner’s refusal to issue the certificate. However few can afford the time and money involved and are also afraid of being victimised in future dealings with the Inland Revenue Dept.
Victor’s public persona as a great achiever is equally matched by his warm heartedness and his generosity.
Roy recalls this side of Victor in relating these touching moments:
‘Victor is often known for his educational and career advancement. I know Victor as a friend more like a brother. I can say many things about Victor but I remember when I completed the ACCA finals and planning to come home I was short of money. So I asked Victor to sign a promissory note at the Bank in Georgetown so I could cover passages for my sister and me. Instead Victor sent me two fully paid air tickets. He was always there for many of us…
Victor should be remembered not for his qualifications and experience only but for his kindness to many people. His wife Bibi was also very kind and supportive. I got to know his family better as we lived in the same apartment block in New York.’
Victor had no ‘airs and graces’. He was ‘ordinary’ like everybody else. Roy recalls:
‘There was a program on Radio Demerara called “My kind of music” where people were invited to have their favorite music played. Many of them would introduce the music by saying I heard this piece of music “when I was in London or Paris or Copenhagen”. When it was Victor’s turn to host the program he introduced the music by saying “when I was a little boy in Bath sugar estate my neighbor used to play on his home made flute a tune I loved called LITTLE BROWN JUG” . Most of Victor’s choices were popular local tunes. This shows how ordinary Victor was.’
He was a no nonsense chap too. Roy continued ‘ Someone said to Victor that he shouldn’t be so strict with tax payers and that he should try and fill his pocket now or else when he gets old and away from his Government job he may not be able to afford a comfortable life. Victor replied that if I can’t be comfortable by being honest I would have no difficulty going back to my humble beginnings from whence I came. I would rather be honest and poor than be a rich crook. He said these things to teach us honesty.’
He was proud of where he came from. ‘Victor built a hut at the back of his yard in Anira Street in the style of an “Estate Logie” . He said he did it to make his parents feel at home although they had their own bedroom in the front house to which they always had access. One day we were sitting at his back step and he was admiring how they were happy preparing a meal in front of the hut. I think Victor wanted to remind himself of his early days. He must have had a very happy early boyhood.
‘Victor was also a seeker after truth. He accompanied me sometimes to worship service at Burns Memorial Presbyterian Church and to Bible Study in Georgetown. In New York he also came with me to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).’
Roy is himself a great achiever. Roy Chrysostom Yerrakadu, after receiving his Primary School Leaving Certificate, spent his early years as clerk at Bookers Sugar Estate at Plantation Uitvlugt in the then British Guiana. He studied for the final ACCA at Balham and Tooting College of Commerce in London. He was Chief Accountant of the British Guiana Credit Corporation. He served for twenty seven years with the United Nations at New York Headquarters and at several field offices as Internal Auditor and Accountant. He studied Psychology at the Roman Catholic University of St John’s in New York and he was a Methodist Certified Local Preacher in New York. Roy’s father was a Pastor and his brother who was a College Lecturer, did his Ordination studies at Oxford University, UK.
Maurice Solomon, a chartered accountant , whose practice is in Queenstown, Georgetown,
was inspired to become an accountant through working with Victor over 50 years ago in the British Guiana Inland Revenue Department. Maurice recalls the early days:
‘What can I say about Victor? For me he was one of the greatest! I first met him when I joined the Inland Revenue Department as a junior clerk in 1956/7. Victor was then a senior inspector of taxes, with WG Stoll, the Commissioner, CV Too Chung, Deputy Commissioner and Jack Alli, the Assistant Commissioner. Victor was next in line. Through him and others working at the tax office then i.e. Pat Matthews, Joe Rawlins and John Barcellos -all qualified chartered accountants, I became fascinated with accounting and started to think about it being a career. Victor became my mentor and guided me and tried to educate me about being “street-smart”, apart from principles of accounting and business.
‘Between 1957 and 1960, at his insistence I was a regular visitor to his house at Anira Street where his wife Bibi and children and his parents all lived…I got to know the entire family very well and many times shared meals together.
‘Both Victor and Bibi were very generous in all their ways. Victor had so many friends to whom he gave his time and knowledge freely. Some of these “friends” may have tried to get close to him for his vast tax knowledge. Weekends were good times (sometimes challenging) when Victor would offer drinks and play the harmonium. His mother and father were always there. Most times Victor would not take kindly if you leave these sessions too early!
‘I left for England to study in December 1960 and on arrival stayed at 7 Manson Place, South Kensington with Victor and John Barcellos both of whom were on vacation. The bottle of rum that I brought was consumed and afterwards we all walked around Queensgate/ Cromwell Road late that night in the dead of winter and raining as well, so much I was bedridden with a severe chest infection that lasted for two weeks.
‘I returned to Guyana in September 1964 after qualifying (with a wife and two small kids)and joined Bookers Sugar Estates based in Georgetown. I went to see Victor shortly after. He knew I was back and very happy to see me qualified. In spite of my protests, he forceably gave me some money- a substantial amount at the time-saying that I will need it for my family. He was that type of person -his was a great spirit and great generosity and he was a true friend.
‘He was indeed a sincere man with no bluster or bluff and very wise. He died at an early age. I do miss him. My chartered accountants office is at the corner of Laluni and Oronoque Street –close to Anira Street- so very often I pass by the old house in Anira Street which appears all vacant and abandoned.’
Sam Singh a fellow Bathian (son of Bath Estate) never met Victor personally until 1958, when from the start a brotherly relationship grew between them. Victor the elder ‘brother’ inspired and helped Sam to better his academic and professional career and to realise his early aspirations.
Sam was a young man in Bath Estate, when Victor passed the ACCA examination and was drafted into the Income Tax Office as Inspector of Taxes. This information was communicated to all those living in Bath Estate through the Head Book-keeper and his three assistants who were the only local Bathians who had access to the ‘Daily Chronicle’ Newspaper. This was the first time Sam heard of Victor.
Growing up in Bath and observing the achievements of the children of the descendants of the indentured working class field workers living on the estate, Sam discovered that those who were not engaged as field workers with their parents were all engaged in the Teaching profession. Among these were four Graduates of the Guyana Teachers Training College with First Class Certificates. With this background Sam aspired to become a Graduate of the Teachers Training College. In 1949 when he learnt of Victor’s Certification as an Accountant, Sam was just about to begin his career as a member of the teaching profession.
Sam entered The Teachers Training College in September 1953 and graduated in June 1955. He was posted to a Primary School at Mahaicony Creek. The low salary level coerced Sam to rethink his future. He considered pursuing a degree in Mathematics but the cost of private lessons was prohibitive. Using the Wolsey Hall Correspondence Courses he decided to study Economics. While on this program he applied to the Education Department for a Teaching Scholarship but this was denied. He then sought employment at a Secondary School. The Principal offered him a higher salary than that at Primary School and promised to pay an additional increment for each subject he passed at Advanced Level. Sam succeeded in obtaining five A Level passes. The Principal offered him an increase of only one increment. This disappointment set his thoughts on seeking other alternatives.
Sam then applied to the Booker Group of Companies for a Booker Cadetship which was being offered to Guyanese. The officer in charge promptly replied stating that Bookers had no use for people with his qualifications. Disappointment again. Co-incidentally, two advertisements appeared in the newspapers. The Indian Education Trust College invited applications for teachers of English and British Constitution and the University College of the West Indies advertised the addition of a New Faculty in Social Sciences – Economics, Politics, Sociology. Sam was offered the job at Indian Educational Trust. It was at this stage that Sam met Victor. This was a meeting of ‘blood brothers,’ for Victor all Bathians were his brothers.
From the time they met, Victor was always there for Sam. Victor helped Sam towards becoming an Accountant. This blossomed into a glittering career for Sam in Guyana, the Caribbean, the United Nations and in North America. Sam tells of the experiences he shared with Victor, the ups and downs, and life changing disappointments:
‘Victor immediately introduced me to his professional colleagues- John and Noel Barcellos and involved me in their work and recreational activities He took me to their weightlifting exercises and included me in their activities when they were exploring the potential tax liability of businesses or individuals.
‘Victor confided in me the relationship between the Commissioner of Income Tax and himself as Deputy Commissioner. His performance as a Tax Expert, his rapid promotion from Inspector of Taxes to Deputy Commissioner did not receive the respect and encouragement from his boss. Victor’s decisions were invariably challenged and sometimes rejected.
‘In understanding the difficulties and disappointments I encountered, it was easy for Victor to change my vision of my future and persuade me to make Accounting my new long term vision. I was attending Victor’s classes in Accounting and found them interesting, moreso, from the skill of the Teacher. Incidentally, I was not charged for the services provided by Victor. At this point Victor discussed with me the strategy to achieve my long term goal. He advised me to make an application for a place in the UCWI new Social Science Faculty and one for a Student Loan Account from the Ministry of Education. I made the two applications and both were approved. Victor signed the Loan Application as the first Guarantor. A teaching colleague Cyril Madray Kanhai was the second Guarantor. Despite some difficulty from an officer in the Ministry of Education I entered the UCWI in October 1959.
‘In 1960 Sir Jock Campbell became the first Director of the Campbell/Booker Group. Although Sir Jock’s family were supporters of the slave trade and the indenture system, he personally was not a supporter and he initiated steps to improve conditions in the Sugar Estates in Guyana. In executing that program he sent a specialist to the UCWI to solicit students who were interested in accepting Booker Cadetships to be trained as Accountants. The officer interviewed students and later advised the Dean that he did not find any suitable student. The Dean advised him that one student in the faculty was suitable and that was Sam Singh. I was invited for interview. The specialist explained Sir Jock’s philosophy and made the offer of the cadetship to me. I I was invited to return to Guyana immediately after I completed my exams. Bookers made arrangements to have me articled. I was articled to a Firm in Nottingham- Mellors , Basden and Mellors –and left Guyana in September of 1962.
‘An important lesson I learnt from Victor came as a surprise. In the short period we were together, Victor became seriously ill. This lasted for over three months. In our quiet moments Victor and I discussed the illness and we asked ourselves the question: “Why should a man who has done so much good and who has provided assistance to so many people suffer like this?” In our moments together Victor asked me to read the Book of JOB from the Bible. The request puzzled me because I never knew that Victor was a Christian believer. The answer to the question which we asked in private came out at the end of the reading. We both realized that the trials , temptations, hurdles and drawbacks are tests of our belief and trust in our God.’
Sam returned to Guyana as a Chartered Accountant and became the second professional Bathian Accountant due in great measure to the technical, financial and brotherly help from Victor. Sam found Victor still teaching Accounting at his private classes but in addition he had been appointed to teach Accounting at the University of Guyana. Sam, on the other hand immediately became involved in the Guyana Association of Chartered Accountants. In 1969 as Vice President of the Guyana Association he was charged with the responsibility of providing Training for Guyanese for the ACCA Examinations.
Within months of Sam’s return Victor accepted a U.N. job and left Guyana to serve with UNICEF. Since he was teaching at the University of Guyana he had to find a replacement and he recommended Sam. The Vice Chancellor accepted Victor’s recommendation and appointed Sam. He told Sam that he knew Victor had handed over the material he used for the course, but he wanted Sam to know that he was looking forward to seeing ‘Sam’s stamp on the course’. In fact Sam was asked to teach two courses – Victor’s original Accounting Course and a second course in Management Accounting. Sam left Guyana in 1970 to join the Caribbean Development Bank as its first Accountant. In this and other ways, it could be said that Victor’s special gifts were manifest through the sterling achievements of his ‘brother’ and protege Samuel Singh.
Victor was blessed with a number of children and grandchildren and he thoroughly made much of his life with them.
His first grandchild Steve has done well himself. Steve has a degree in Computer Engineering. He is currently working for a Software Company. Soccer/football is his main passion. He has played Soccer/football on a men’s team at the age of 13. He won a Canadian National Championship in 1984, played professionally for 4 years for both Mississauga Lakers, and North York Rockets. He was invited to tryout with the Canadian Men’s National team, but unfortunately did not get a chance due to a severe knee injury a week before. He has been coaching soccer for about 30 years for various age groups and continue to do so. Steve has obviously inherited some of Victor’s genes. He fondly recalls cherished sweet moments of his childhood with Grand dad Victor:
‘My memories of Grandpa are of pleasant and fond memories. I always felt to have a special bond with him, I am not sure if it is due to being his first grandchild. but whenever I knew I was going to see him or when I did actually see him, I always wanted to spend as much time as I could with him, he always loved to play fight with me and he always let me get away with things that normally my own parents would not. Even now I chuckle at his comment he use to always tell my father “LEAVE DE BOI ALONE”.
‘To this day I am constantly reminded of stories of Grand dad when I was a baby, a few that come to mind, apparently when I was just under a year old in New York, at a specific time during the day no matter what I was doing I would stop and crawl to the front door and wait until Grand dad opened that door and he would pick me up and go to take a shower while I wait in front of the bathroom door and then when he was done he would pick me up and would have me on his lap feeding me from his dinner.
‘I remember when we went back to Guyana I believe in ‘72 and Grandpa had a soccer ball and we played soccer in the house and I knocked down a lamp and a few other things, both Grandma and my father scolded me but Grandpa said “LEAVE DE BOI ALONE” and we continued to play.
‘For me Grandpa was and still is one of the most influential persons that has been in my life even though he was taken from me at 12yrs old. Even to this day, when people find out that I am a ‘Gangadin” the stories I hear about how Grandpa impacted their lives and the humanitarian things that he did continues to inspire me to follow in his footsteps. He continues to be a great inspiration to his family and strangers alike.’
Grandson Vijai, has very fond memories of his grand dad, particularly his love of music. Vijai said:
‘When I think of Daddy Victor I think of this song and him teaching me how to play it (and Suhani Raat) on the harmonium that I still have (and still working great ). http://youtu.be/XVyy2dsC3qs. The attached pictures are of the harmonium he mailed from 32 Anira St. to Forest Hills Queens probably 40 years or so ago. I also remember the cigarette in his mouth with an ash that was always about to fall. He used to love when we walked on his back. …’
The song from YouTube is ‘Kown Nagariya..’ sung by Hindi Film Music Director and Singer S.D. Burman. ‘Suhani Raat’ is the famous love song from the Hindi Film ‘Dulari.’
To his daughter Maggie, as would be expected of most daughters or sons, Victor was everything special. Indeed for most mortals praise from their children is priceless. Maggie’s reminiscences on moments with Dad and Mum provide some glimpses of Victor the family man and father and the values he lived by.
‘Victor Jeet Sham Gangadin – my Daddy….He was the kindest, most compassionate and
intelligent man in my life… there wasn’t a word in the dictionary that I could ask the meaning of that he would not know…..
‘I remember we would all go to the seawalls for early Saturday morning drives. He would wake us kids up and reluctantly off we went with our dog. Once we got there it was refreshing and peaceful. My mom usually stayed home and prepared breakfast for us on our return.
‘He loved the movies and would call my mom up from the office to check what movie to see and he took me and Mickey along with them…. we would get channa to eat & when my dad saw couples in the audience kissing he would pelt them with channa and pretended it wasn’t him….
‘We often went on picnics up the base (Airport) and my dad saved me from drowning when
I was about 6 years old. We also went to the Starlite drive-in movies with another family.
‘My dad & mom travelled a lot & we always looked forward to the wonderful gifts they brought back for us. I had my first ever Walking Doll from England and remember little straw bags from Spain, clothes etc.
‘My dad was often invited to dinners at the Indian High Commissioner’s house when there were celebrities in town. He took me a few times and I remember meeting Kabir Bedi ( Film Star) I got his autograph, also Manna Dey ( Hindi film singer). He brought Mohammed Rafi (Hindi film singer) to our home for a few minutes on his way to an event and showed him all the records we had of his songs.
‘My dad was a genius and all geniuses have a weakness. His was the demon alcohol…my dad loved his booze and would sport up on the weekends and be sober as a judge all week. He was very disciplined that way.
‘Some people called him the bare foot Commissioner as he often went shoeless when he was drinking…He had a few friends that would go with him.
‘When I complained to him about his drinking…his message to me was “You have to take the bad with the good -that’s Life ” This advice has seen me through a lot of tough times over the years.
‘I remember another quote he used…”oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.”
‘Another favourite memory is listening to the radio in the evenings; there was a comedy called “Clithero Kid.” We all would sit down and listen to it every week.
‘Once when the union went on strike against the government and picketed our house when dad was Commissioner, they all loved him as he always bought them lunch/refreshments, they allowed him to go to the office – he had to sneak out the back entrance!!!
‘There are so much memories I have of my dad that I could go on forever.. However , I just wanted to say that he was a very generous, loving and giving soul and he always helped anyone in need. He left this earth at too young an age, but when our number is up we have no choice.’ – Just a few thoughts from a loving daughter.
That is Victor Gangadin. Like heavily charged fireworks which burst out to brighten a dark sky and then disappear, Victor’s life showed what spectacular works one human being is capable of regardless of disadvantages in early life. Victor was born in the same year as the renowned Indian film star Raj Kapoor. Had Victor been interested in films, who knows ? Nothing seemed to be beyond his reach, but life itself. Sadly he has gone but has left a most indelible footprint in the sands of time. Victor is a credit to his family and to his country.
December 21. 2014