He is a sprightly old man living at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice. His name is Etwaroo Dhanraj but he is better known as Cheddi Basil.
He joined the Staff at Bath Estate in 1935 at age 12 as a trainee blacksmith.
At the Estate there was a sluice attendant with a beautiful daughter named Alice. His eyes caught afire when he saw Alice.
He wooed her and eventually married her in1942. The union produced ten children.
Dhanraj toiled as a blacksmith at the Bath Estate Workshop from dawn to dusk, for the next 16 years, providing sustenance to the ten children who came out of the union; ably supported by his wife.
He left the blacksmith work after they started downgrading Bath and started sending most of the assignments to Blairmont Estate in 1958.
He bought a 19th century blacksmith bellows and took in private work. He joined the exodus from the inland Bath Estate to the front lands in 1964.
He lost his wife, the “great love and great pleasure” of his life to the Grim Reaper on May 17, 2000- a date he has written up in a notebook but which he still remembers on his own accord.
She was 73 and he 77; and that was after 58 years of mutual support and marital bliss.
“What a great pleasure for two young people” are some of the words about his marriage that he has written in his Diary which he showed me last week. “The Lord he knows best and he does best.”
He still has his bellows and he keeps it in excellent condition. Last week he boasted that it is better than any modern day welding set.
He uses it to create a very hot fire to make iron soft and pliable.
His bellows can melt iron so that he can make any letter in the alphabet and at any size. He can also make any number from zero to nine, with one length of iron, he says.
He is 86 years old but he still has the energy to pursue legal action against some people who are trying to steal some of his land.
“I have many children, grand children and great grand-children. If I don’t move to prevent people from robbing me, where do they live after I am dead?” he asked.
He was supposed to meet a lawyer yesterday to find a way to deal with the would-be land thieves.
Those are some facts about Edward Dhanraj, aka Cheddi Basil, 86, who lives through the old Double ‘R’ Street just west of the Bath Primary School street; an old man with a sixty year old Bellows; years of hard work under his belt; pleasant memories of a beautiful marriage and a perpetual twinkle in his eyes.
As found out by Village Focus last week.
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