Prof. Ravi Chaturvedi
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My father’s daughter
My name is Jill Cezair and the late Percy Cezair, the Sunday Guardian columnist, was my father.
Three years ago, April, my dad died. Unexpectedly. We found out he had cancer and, within three months…But, talk about a strong man, he worked a full day, every day, right up to the time he died. That’s Percy!
I’m the youngest of four children. We moved to Canada when I was about 14 and the family is still there. I moved back to Trinidad in my 30s. My mum is 90 and doing as good as ever. My father used to go back-and-forth. My mom would not get on a plane for nothing! She hasn’t seen Trinidad since 1972!
Je parle Francais. Fluently. My mother loved the idea of French Canada, loved the language and that’s where she wanted to go. Let’s say she can understand French much more than she can speak it now!
I’ve been divorced longer now than I was married. I did not grow up ever cursing. And then my ex-husband caused me to curse. I literally learned to curse from being married.
Although I went to school with nuns in Trinidad, and everything had to be done a certain way, I fit into the Montreal school system. You were allowed to be yourself. And I actually flourished.
When I go back to Montreal, as I land in the airport, it feels like I’ve not left. It’s the same way I feel when I come to Trinidad. I’m right back at home, just home is a different place. But I am a Trini to the bone.
For change to take place, we have to see it coming from the top. We can’t expect the young ones to do something positive when they don’t have positive examples.
I used to have a bookstore and [recently very publicly murdered attorney] Dana Seetahal was one of my customers. She wasn’t a woman who knew how to keep her mouth shut, a very, very strong woman. Up to now, we can’t hear a thing about her murder. You have no reports after six weeks?
I’m a single woman and have learned to be very self-sufficient. I don’t feel fearful to get into my car and do what I have to do. Maybe I should, I don’t know.
Everybody in Trinidad is a Hindu at Divali. And a Christian at Christmas. That’s what I love about this country.
In one family in Trinidad, you look at pictures, same mother and same father – but all the children are different colours. You don’t question this is the family but everybody looks different. I love that about Trinidad.
I can be in an airport anywhere in the world and, behind me, hear an accent and I know that person is a Trini. And, when I turn around, they could look like anyone on the planet! You meet Rastamen named Chin. I hope that never changes.
I’m very proud of my father and his accomplishments. He was mayor of Arima. His mother was the first female alderman in all of Trinidad and Tobago. There’s a history of politics in my family going far back. My father left the PNM but never left politics. He wrote his article in the papers for years and, after he left the PNM, didn’t favour any party.
I’m a trivia buff. I love to read and, for some reason, stupid things I might never need in life stick in my brain. If I’m watching Jeopardy with a man, he’ll always ask, “How you know that answer? And that answer?” I tell them: “Read a book!”
Driving in Trinidad, when I reach home, I give thanks to God for making it in one piece. I don’t know how more of us don’t end up dead on the roads.
Trinis are accepting, accommodating people. Maybe too accepting and accommodating.
Trinidad and Tobago is Paradise and Hell. I go to Tobago and sit on the beach and give thanks to live in a democracy. But a nine-year-old child is slaughtered and we don’t stand up and say, No! That, to me, is the Hell.
Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com