Bhagelu's Story

I left India because it was a time of distress in the country. There was therefore a willingness on my part to accept the offer of a job. I was told I would be provided with food and a home as well.

When I went to Calcutta I met a woman and I took her to be my wife. There I also came across a pundit who had been to Fiji. I thought that it would be a good idea to go to Fiji so I could earn some money and then return home after five years.

Though I was told Fiji would be my destination, I was not informed of its whereabouts. I was too illiterate and uneducated and did not ask questions. My family tried to prevent my leaving but I managed to escape and set out on my way. I was nevertheless sorry to leave India, but once I had made up my mind to quit the country my feelings changed. Soon I forgot about my parents.

When I arrived in Fiji I was indentured to a Mr Witherow in Vunidawa. Initially my job there was to dig holes. After three months I had to plough land using a bullock.

The Indian sardar on this plantation was an evil man. His wife was involved with the overseer and this is why he had been elevated to that level. But there were many Indian women who were intimate with Europeans because this ensured that they were given comparatively easy tasks.

Despite the fact that both my wife and I earned money, we found it difficult to make ends meet. Sometimes we obtained credit from the shopkeeper but he did not permit it to go beyond our capacity to repay.

With severe stringency and strict economy we eventually managed to save a little. Though, on leaving India I had intended to return, I did not in the end.

My family was here so I could not go back. Further, I had neither money nor home nor a plot of land to go back to. Mach later when I wanted to write to folks in India my eldest son opposed it. His mother had warned him that I had money and once correspondence began I would desert them, hence letter writing should not be permitted.  He opposed my writing to India. Thus there was no contact.