Guyanese brings Norwegian family ‘home’
Nazir Ally’s story reads more like that of the intrepid Jack you see in the opening portions of the epic movie The Titanic when he takes a wild stroke at his future by gambling his way onto the fateful ship.
However, life sailed differently from the Titanic plot for Ally.
Rewind to the year 1957. British Guiana is in the throes of a political revolution and a constitutional crisis while wrestling the British for independence of the colony. Young Ally, though, was perhaps more disillusioned at the arduous work on the rice fields, and wanted a break at “something better.”
He struck up a conversation with a friend and they decided that better life would be in England so they set out for the journey, with absolutely no plan in mind. It’s no problem if you think he was out of his mind. He was; he just wanted to get out.
He took the plane to Trinidad and from there set sail for the next three weeks or so to England. The first stop on the way was Italy and then France, from where he took the ferry to England.
Ally had a cousin already living in England – good thing he came to pick him up! Ally started to build a life for himself in bustling London, finding work as an inventory clerk of sorts.
There he met Asbjorg, a Norwegian woman who was also living in London. In 1963, the two married and would later have two boys and a girl. In time, the family moved to the mountainous region of Telmark in Norway, but soon they moved to the capital Oslo.
Ally has brought his entire family to Guyana, offering them a chance to experience the land of his birth.
This is only the second time that Ally has returned to Guyana since leaving. The first time was in 1978. He did think of coming back when British Guiana gained independence and became what is now Guyana in 1966, but somehow it never happened. His new life was now coming together, and it’s not like the life on the rice fields was such a huge appeal for him.
He did enthrall his kids, though, with stories of his childhood – hanging on to the tail of a cow, crossing canals inhabited by caimans, and savouring exotic fruits. It’s little wonder that Ally has been having his full of fruits since coming to Guyana with his family two weeks ago.
So, what prompted this return to Guyana? A casual discussion about bringing his kids to discover their Guyanese heritage.
His daughter, Aslaug Ally, was never enthused about visiting Guyana, and that’s only probably because it wasn’t a constant feature of family discussions. However, now that she has been in Guyana, Aslaug told Kaieteur News she would have hated it if she had decided not to come along.
Is Ally surprised at what he now sees, bringing his wife and kids to Guyana? Yes, and for the right and wrong reasons. The littering and the drains clogged with garbage annoy him. It doesn’t create a good impression for tourists, he told Kaieteur News on a visit to our offices yesterday.
“The British had things in order. It was clean,” he says. He isn’t too happy with all the animals on the road either.
And what fascinates him? The cars! You can only imagine what Guyana was like in 1957 and 1978, compared to what it is today when it comes to cars.
Of course, his home village at No. 11, West Coast Berbice is nothing like what it used to be back when he was a youth. The houses are all different, and Ally can’t quite come to grips with what he feels about all of that. He isn’t the nostalgic type.
One of his sons, Nizam, is happy that he took the trip to Guyana. Like his sister, he was taken aback by stories of unusual insects. They are both relieved that their fears were misplaced, though they don’t seem like the gullible type to be sucked into empty tales.
For Aslaug, Guyana is what she expected of any tropical destination, and she is pleased to connect with the land of her father. She expressed surprise at how welcoming everyone has been.
Nizam sees value in connecting with one’s roots, and he hopes that his initial thoughts of making regular visits to Guyana with his wife and two children materialize and doesn’t last as long as the time it took to plan this visit to Guyana.
Ally, too, wants to return to Guyana. He still has some relatives here, including his sister.
He is taking time to enjoy the fruits he enjoyed while a youth in West Berbice – fruits such as mango, banana, papaw and pineapple. And he did miss the fish; hassar, moreso.
“I am glad I came back,” Ally concludes.