Anil Gayan’s sisters: «Proud to be daughters of the ‘chauffeur d’autobus’»

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We would like to refer to an article that appeared in l’express newspaper of 29 May 2019 entitled «Fils de chauffeur d’autobus mais à l’arrogance marquée» and to the online version of the article that appeared with the same heading on the website of lexpress.mu. In the exercise of a «droit de réponse», and as a matter of pride for us, we feel it is our duty, as the daughters of the «chauffeur d’autobus», to pen down the pain we felt while reading it. Had our parents been alive, we are sure they would have felt wholly disheartened by such virulent words towards their humble beginnings and towards their son who has always made them proud and who has been exemplary to them, always. I am sure they would be asking themselves «pourquoi cet acharnement ?»

Strangely, the online version has one paragraph missing from the print version. That paragraph reads as follows: «La maman d’Anil Gayan, Socile Boolell, épousa bien des années de cela, un chauffeur d’autobus du Triolet Bus Service du nom de Deokaran Gayan. À l’époque, chaque famille comptait des membres de différentes professions et il était tout à fait normal qu’une sœur épousât un avocat, qui était aussi fils de grand planteur, et une autre, un chauffeur d’autobus. Un membre de la famille logeant dans une maison en dur et un autre dans une modeste habitation de paille et de bouse de vache – cela était tout à fait commun à Maurice.»

We grew up in a thatch-roof house in Triolet and it is true that it was a «modeste habitation de paille et de bouse de vache». We are not ashamed that we lived in poverty when our relatives had lavish lives. The article is derogatory and is offensive to bus employees. It shows the prejudice of your paper. Regarding our brother Anil, the article is judgmental of his personality and totally biased. The article makes sweeping statements and at no point refers to particular incidents that justify the statements.

Linking his posting at the State Law Office at the beginning of his career to his blood relationship to sir Satcam Boolell is malicious and is not evidenced by any ounce of proof. This is purely a deliberate distortion of facts. We are proud that our late father never considered seeking the help of the all-powerful sir Satcam to obtain a job in the public service. We led a poor but dignified life.

The article mentions nine children. In fact, there were ten children but sadly, our eldest brother left us more than ten years ago. The article is intended to lower us in the eyes of the public but we are proud to have come out of poverty through our hard work and help of our poor parents.

It is not our intention to justify our brother’s behaviour or his choice of words in the course of his political career. He is experienced and intelligent enough to take care of that. However, after having read the article several times, we fail to understand the relevance of the contents to the actual subject of debate around him.

Whatever Anil has achieved academically is the result of his hard work and the blessings of his parents. He knew that the family – leave alone sir Satcam – would not have been able to fund his higher studies and therefore he studied hard, becoming the first child in the family to obtain the State scholarship. All the others who followed were, to a very large extent inspired by him.

We find the contents of the article to be an insult to our families and to ourselves. We have been brought up with a strong set of values which is contrary to what has been written. Our father, the «chauffeur d’autobus», always used to tell us the following words: «misère mais honnête, déchiré mais raccommodé». His motto was «Prabhu ki mahima aparam par» (meaning God’s grace is beyond limits). These words still ring in our minds. The article has served the sole purpose of negatively portraying our entire family without, at any moment, explaining the relevance of these vicious statements. Finally, we wish to point out that we strongly object to the contents as they cause a lot of prejudice to us

To conclude, I have a few questions to ask. Is there a golden rule which says that those coming from poor and modest social backgrounds have no right to climb the social ladder? Is it a privilege of the rich to stay there? And, does l’express really wish to endorse those statements, which many members of the Mauritian society coming from humble beginnings would find insulting? The article is a sad reflection on the integrity of l’express.

PS.: Did l’express seek the views of Anil before publication?

Daughters of the «chauffeur d’autobus»

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