Some years ago, I came across Panday and he excitedly told me how he was shopping at South Hall in London and came across a book of Hindi names (not mine) and bought a copy for me as I had sometime earlier had my own similar-type book published. However, he said, ruefully, he still had it as his home as he could not connect with me and that I should pass by him and pick it up. But often so busy doing nothing, I never did.
When I was in the process of my own publication, Panday generously offered to do the printing needful and that is how my book was published by Battlefront, his union’s newspaper thus making it a non-vantage, self-publishing venture. I remember one of the union’s henchmen abrasively asking who was taking financial responsibility for the book and Panday dismissed the question with a flick of his wrist and fingers saying that he was taking care of it.
On the night of the launch of the book which was being held at Rienzi Complex courtesy Panday again, He accepted my request to make the feature address but he was in Parliament up till late that evening and forgot and when I got hold of him he was already back at home at Bryan’s Gate. Not to disappoint, however, he said hold on, he’ll be back shortly.
Not only did he come back and make one of his classic speeches, but when one of my musicians did not turn up, Panday just slipped off his cowboy boots, went on stage and played the tabla glibly attributing his skill to having practised (in his mind) on a nemesis who was notoriously labelled table head.
I have not the kind of resources to honour the great man that the State, for example, has but my book which came into existence largely because of the generosity of Basdeo Panday and which might live on longer than brick and mortar edifices, I now dedicate to him. It means that any and all future re-issue of the book will be called the Basdeo Panday Dictionary of Hindi Names.
Small thing it might seem, but to a writer who regards his work as equivalent to the shedding of his blood, sweat and tears, it’s the least (or best) I can do.
As an aside, I grew up in the same area of St. Julien as Basdeo Panday and we both wen t to New Grant Government Primary school – though decades apart. On evenings, Panday and his village intelligentsia used to assemble at a shop couple houses away from my family’s home from where everything under the sun was discussed explaining to some extent what made him the skillful debater he became.
In those days he was known more familiarly as Lloyd and less as Basdeo. He once explained the Lloyd was derived from the name “Loi” – which was a Chinese name he got as he looked in his younger days as if his ancestors’ came from China and not India.
B. L. Panday existed for a long time until Lloyd eventually gave way to Basdeo who in my book of Hindi Names is represented more authentically as Vasudeva.
A rose by any other name, smells as sweet as it is, whether it be Loi, Lloyd, Basdeo, Silver Fox, as Panday, the man in the Middle goes leaving behind the sweet smell of one whose bio is sprayed with the high-end perfume of Yves St Laurent and Dior. But no, his words and actions require no perfume. His brand was the “sweet inspiration” that he leaves for us.