Couple in Guyana

In 1944, my grandfather or “nana”, Beeram, was born a bastard into a poor family living in a rural village in West Berbice, British Guiana. He was the 10th child of an Indian father and a Portuguese mother, and spent most of his early childhood in poverty. Without access to an education, he taught himself the basics of electrical engineering and created his own radio station. In 1966, Beeram proposed to my grandmother or “nani” through that same station. That same year, Guyana declared its independence from the British Empire, and so began years of political change within this small country in South America. Beeram became invigorated by socialist ideology and joined the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), advocating for a communist government to replace the formerly agrarian colonial system. The PPP finally succeeded and an Indo-Guyanese Marxist-Lenist was elected as head of the transitional government. My family prospered during this time period with my grandfather working in government-subsidized factory farm. However, national unity collapsed due to the rise of nationalist groups with slogans such as “apan jaat naa bhulaiba” or “don’t forget forget our kind”. Beeram moved away from politics upon starting his own family a few years later. He emigrated to the United States in 1994 to live with his daughter, my mother in Queens, New York. When I showed my grandfather this photo, he replied that all he could think of back in those days were “Marxism and marriage”.

Year: 2004

– Jason Mohabir

Relationship:  unknown unknown