Shri Sugrim Singh of London, formerly of Ankerville, Port Mourant, passed on a couple weeks ago. He had a remarkable persona. He would have been 85 on February 9. Hindu rites and Cremation of his mortal remains is on February 5.
Sugrim was born in 1936 in Ankerville; he lived there and spent time with relatives in Rose Hall and Tain. He attended Corentyne High School (CHS) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. At that time, there were no GCEs. He left for London in 1956 to pursue medical studies.
Sugrim was the brother of well-known business people (late) Hindu (of Tain), Baljeet (Gama) also of Tain, Lilmatie Hilton (of Rose Hall), Bethlyn (of Ankerville), police Superintendent Ramjee Singh (Bodo) of Robb Street, and Golin (married to Pandit Bangat of Tain).
Sugrim and me share common ancestry – indentured immigrants from India. His maternal grandmother or nanni (Amru) and maternal grandfather or nanna (Ghurbatore) are my paternal great grand-parents. His mother is the sister of my aja (Mahadeo also known as Bharka Bhai). He was the first cousin of my father, Baldat, also known as taylor. Sugrim’s father was Ramjee Singh (called Ramjee Babu, a title of a mark of respect), an immigrant from Madhuban, Azamgarh, India. His mother, Sancharee was born in Port Mourant of indentured immigrant parents. Until his death, he was perhaps only among a few of the third generation Indians of Guyana. Sugrim left for England at a time when there were few Guyanese. Almost every Guyanese who departed for England went as student and decided to settle down. Life in England was very difficult. Studying medicine and working was almost impossible. He needed to work for survival, suspending his studies. He worked at various jobs. He also became a restaurateur which he abandoned. He eventually managed and owned another very successful business that employed several workers. He was very generous with funds helping several individuals. Later, he helped several of his staff in London to start their own businesses.
I had several encounters with Uncle Sugrim when he visited Guyana in May 1986 for the funeral of his sister Bethlyn, New York in early 1990s, and in several trips to England, the last one being in October of 2019. Covid led to the cancellation of a London trip in 2020. I enjoyed his recounts of his growing up in the plantation of Port Mourant and his attendance at CHS. He also talked about his early years of experience in England – life was very, very difficult for non-Whites. He also offered a lot of business tips.
Sugrim was very conversational and chatty in our exchanges. He was also very witty and jovial.
Over the last several years of his life, Sugrim had become very religious. He had become a devotee (Bhakt) of Lord Krishna. He used to grow tulsi plants and sharing with others. He came to be known as “Tulsi Baba”. He had provided funds a decade long to raise two children in Mathura,Sugrim is survived by his six children and several grand children. His family should take comfort in the fact that he was kind and generous even to non-family members.
I will miss Uncle Sugrim immensely.