Chinsan's story

I came to Fiji through my own arrogance. There was trouble at home and I walked out. I met someone and asked him to give me work. He said he could find me a good job in Fiji. I was taken to a depot and registered. Once I got into the depot and ate the food provided for me I was caught in a net and could no longer leave.

It was Indians not Europeans who ruined things; the sardars were Indians and they were responsible for all evil. We had for a time a foul-mouthed sardar who was an ex-indentured man. He was subsequently dismissed by the Company. But it was the Europeans who gave us a beating, there was no redress from them.

Everyone, irrespective of religion, participated in the tazia. These occasions were sometimes characterised by widespread fighting among participants.

I did fast in the month of Ramadhan while I was on girmit. Life was hard in those days. I know of women under girmit who worked till 9pm or 10pm cutting and loading cane. It was Indians who created difficulties for other Indians. Was it a good thing to listen to Europeans and to take to them one’s sister or daughter?

All were united, doctors as well as the Company, against Indians who were like orphans.

We did not get married in those days we merely came to an agreement. I had a year of my girmit to serve when I met a Brahmin woman who had come from India with a child.

She suffered much and one day she fell at my feet so I said to her: “Maharajin why are you crying? If your girmit is finished I will keep you as my wife otherwise I will not. But you will have to give up your religion and become a Muslim. If you intend to remain a Brahmin then you must find someone your own kind.”

She replied: “I will do as you say.”

I was able to arrange everything with the Company and so I married this woman and adopted her son. I had several children by her and I am staying with one of them at present.