A small boy’s memories of the Seychelles (Part II) |11 May 2023
By Eddy Johnson (based in Sydney, Australia)
Following the publication of the story ‘A small boy’s memories of the Seychelles’ in the April 25, 2023 issue of Seychelles NATION, the author – Eddy Johnson – has sent some more ‘memories’ that followed those narrated in the first part of the story, culminating with his journey back to Mauritius…
A ghoulish game of hide and seek
Sometimes, Joseph Stravens and his wife Micheline would invite our family for Sunday lunch. My brothers and I looked forward to the event because the three Stravens boys – Josen, Eri, and Jourdan – were of our age and also because the Sabadin boys, who lived not too far, would often join us for games.
While the parents talked, the kids did what kids enjoyed doing most. Walking around, playing marbles, football with a small red-coloured sponge ball. However, invariably the afternoon ended with hide and seek.
We gathered in a circle and one of us would recite a nursery rhyme touching each kid in turn as he said each word of the rhyme. The rhyme that stuck in my mind and which I am sure I do not understand to this day was:
“C’est le koki caille, c’est le roi des papillon. En faisant sa barbe il a coupé son menton. Une; desse; troisse, tirez-vous dehors”
Another rhyme was:
« La haut dans manioque il y a des voleurs. Il y a des voleurs alouette tin tin alouettes virez”
The kid on whom the last word fell walked out of the circle. This would go on and on until there was one last kid who counted loud to fifty while the others would scatter and hide. All the kids of the land played that game. But I am writing about it because of what occurred once.
Looking for a place to hide I climbed a staircase that led to the attic of the Stravens’ house. I had never been up there before but thought that the seeker would not think that any boy would hide up there.
In the semi-darkness I spotted a long box in a corner. On checking I noticed that I could push the lid of the box aside, which I did and slid into the box pulling the lid back, leaving room for some light and air.
I must have fallen asleep because time went by un-noticed until I was awakened by voices shouting my name over and over. Thinking that the game was till going on I kept quiet.
Suddenly someone opened the door of the attic and called. But this time it was Mr Stravens. I pushed the lid aside, sat up, and Mr Stravens burst out laughing. He switched the electric light on and I realised for the first time that I had been hiding and sleeping in a coffin.
I stepped out sheepishly and climbed the stair down only to be met by the laughter of parents and kids.
Mr Stravens explained that he had the coffins made for his ageing mother who lived with the family.
If I remember correctly, he explained that many families had coffins made in preparation for the death of elderly members of families at a time when there were no such things as funeral parlours.
To this day, every time I attend a funeral the memory of that game of hide and seek floats back into the recesses of my mind. 1
Some 40 kilometres from Mahé is the beautiful island of Praslin. Today, the island is world renowned for its beautiful beaches, expensive hotels, the Vallée de Mai (Mai Valley) natural park known for the endemic black parrot found nowhere else in the world and the oddly-shaped coco de mer. There are some interesting legends tied to the butt-shape of the nut which I knew nothing about at the time.
Back in 1951, very few people visited the place apart from government officials. Some 1000 people lived there permanently. The few black-and-white pictures taken by some did not do justice to the island, revealing nothing of its paradise-like beauty.
My parents and three other families decided to take a break and spend a week in Praslin. I do not remember being overly excited about this, but then, kids do not get really excited about places that they know little about.
‘Paulette’ was the ferry that linked the mainland to Praslin three times a week. It had twin diesel auxiliary engines which, when running, belched out a foul-smelling smoke. We also found out that the boat rocked and rolled madly as it ploughed its way through the choppy stretch of ocean that separated the two islands.
Most travellers sat on the narrow wooden bench that faced the sea on either side of the boat. Comfort was minimal, but the view of Mahé and the surrounding islands was gorgeous as the ‘Paulette’ slowly passed them. After four hours of smelling foul diesel fumes and vomit, we reached the small harbour of Baie Sainte Anne.
One of the families had arranged for a small truck to take us to Grand Anse on the other side of the island, where our rented bungalows were. Those were the days when there was not a single hotel on the island, only a few administrative buildings, a small medical clinic and the two-officers police station.
People, luggage and food were piled onto the back of the truck and off we went. On its way to Grand Anse, the track wound through the Vallée de Mai. The oohs and ahs of the adults as they saw an interesting specimen of orchid or the silver-breasted and dark blue-coated Dutch pigeon left us children (11 all together) feeling indifferent, eager as we were to be in the sea. The three rented bungalows faced the white sandy beach and the lagoon whose inviting water glistened in different shades of blue and green. A mile or so away were the twin islands of Cousin (masculine) and Cousine (feminine), world renowned for their population of sea birds.
The adults spent the day chatting, cooking, playing dominoes or reading. We children couldn’t get enough of the sea, but still found time to climb trees, play hide-and-seek or build coconut-shell “canotes”. This visit to Praslin remains one of my most enduring memories of the Seychelles.
My first awareness of death
These days, children become aware of death at an early age; either when death strikes their family or someone close to them, or by watching a lot of television and playing computer war games. To some extent, it was different when I was a child, at least it was different for me. I had no experience whatsoever of the reality of death until February of 1951. At some point in time during the previous year, mum and dad had told us that a baby would join our family in a few months’ time. The following months were exciting as mum talked to us about the development of the baby. Then, one day, she called us and allowed us to touch her belly and feel the baby move. We giggled as we watched mum’s distended belly taking odd shapes as our eyes followed the baby’s movements.
We three boys wanted a baby brother so that we could play two-a-side soccer. Our sister, the youngest of the children, who was six, wanted a baby sister. Surprising as this will sound, I do not remember any of us asking how a baby gets out of the mother’s belly. However this was to happen did not raise our curiosity, as we were simply eager to welcome the latest addition to our family. We watched as mum bought and prepared all the necessary accessories. She was also seeing the doctor regularly. Then the day came when she went to the maternity clinic (La Clinique Dauphé), informing us that the baby would be born soon.
On the morning of the birth, dad took us to the clinic for a last visit. The doctor, a nice lady, simply said that by late afternoon we would have a baby brother or sister. A friend of dad’s drove us back home and, later that evening, dad dropped in for a few minutes before we went to bed and told us that the baby would be born early the next morning.
There was much excitement around the breakfast table as we waited for dad to come with the news. An hour, then two, went by. When he at last arrived, his face was drawn and I at once sensed that there was something wrong.
I cannot say if my younger siblings felt the same. We just looked at dad and, after what seemed to be a long time, he simply said, “There will not be a baby in the family,” and then he went back to the clinic. I cannot say that I understood the scope of the statement, but I knew that something terrible had happened. That afternoon, dad took us to the clinic to see the baby before she was buried. I still have a vivid memory of her dressed in blue, lying in a crib, and mum softly sobbing.
A couple of days later, when mum returned, she said that the baby had been stillborn. That meant nothing to us, except that mum had come back with no little brother or sister. For some reason, my parents had never told us what name they were going to give to the baby. On that day, they did. Somewhere in a cemetery in the Seychelles, our little sister, Lisbeth, sleeps. My mum passed away in 1997. A day before she died, dad, my siblings, myself and our own kids, were gathered around her bed. She said goodbye and then whispered, “I will see Lisbeth soon”. Forty-six years later, the memory of the baby she never got to cuddle was still vivid in her heart.
A week in hospital
Late in 1951, an epidemic of Poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) occurred. Dr Salk had not yet discovered the vaccine that would later be known by his name. So, children that showed the symptoms of the feared disease were immediately put under observation at the hospital. I had been complaining of muscle pains accompanied by vomiting for some time. The family doctor, taking no chances, had me hospitalised right away. My parents paid for a private room and the doctor did not prescribe any medication as he waited for further developments.
After a couple of days, I felt much better and soon was fully recovered. But the prescribed observation time was up to ten days. The matron (British title given to the nurse in charge) took a liking to me and allowed me the freedom to roam around the hospital. I made friends with some of the other boys and girls. My best memory of the hospital is when the matron suggested one morning that I might find it interesting to see the operating theatre.
The only thing I knew about an operating room was that doctors cut people open in there, so I was not sure that I wanted to do what she had suggested. But I followed her, somewhat reluctantly. I was dazzled by the brightness of the room. The tiled walls gleamed white and the stainless steel tools were neatly arranged on trays next to the operating table. She explained in simple language what every piece of equipment was used for. My fear gradually evaporated; that is until I saw a stainless steel, kidney-shaped container in a sink. When I looked closer, I saw that there was something that looked like a piece of red meat with coagulated blood stuck to it. I could not turn my eyes away. Seeing what I was looking at, the matron said, “Eddy, this is what you will be served for dinner this evening.”
Choking and developing an urge to vomit, I quickly left and ran back to my room. The dinner was beef medallion with mashed potatoes, diced red beet and green salad, according to the printed menu on the tray. I took one looked and puked. The slice of pink meat had reddish streak of beet juice on it and looked exactly like the thing that I had seen in the sink.
To this day, I wonder that I did not become a vegetarian right there and then.
Empire Day was a celebration of the British Empire that was held for many years in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and other countries. It took place every year on May 24, the date of Queen Victoria’s birthday.
For some reasons that I am not aware of, Empire Day celebration was also the “Sport’s Day” of Mahé. The different schools and sport clubs competed against each other in different field events to the joy of the spectators.
Empire day of 1952 remains in my mind for four reasons. (1) For the first time Seychelles College fielded a team in every event. (2) A British warship was visiting at the time and also fielded a complete team. (3) A small team of four Mauritians sprinters entered the 400 hundred yard relay race. And finally the band of Royal Marines would close the day with the traditional Beating the Retreat ceremony.
It was fun to watch the competitions which was mainly between the boys of Seychelles College and the warship team. The three of four other teams did their best but were no match for the two. The sport programmes comprised different races, high jump, long jump, pole vaulting.
As the afternoon went by, the boys from Seychelles College trained by one of the brothers who was himself a keen athlete collected most of the trophies leaving the second places to the British team.
Finally the time came for three final sport events.
(a) The sack race sometimes called potato sack race was a competitive game in which participants have both legs inside a sack that reaches to their waist and sometimes to the neck. At the signal the competitors hop forward toward the finish line. The first person to cross wins the sack race.
A sack race was very popular with the kids, boys as well as girls, because it was funny to watch the runners stumble, fighting to keep their balance, crashing into one another. We found it more exciting than the regular races.
(b) The last race of the day was the four by four hundred yard relay race. That was the one in which a team of four Mauritians entered. The four men were Reverend Cathan, Reverend Ague of the Anglican Diocese, my dad the Adventist Pastor, and Michael Ange Sioux, a land surveyor under contract with the government.
The first three had competed as college students back in Mauritius and had achieved great success. The unknown quantity was Sioux. He was a diminutive five foot-tall man. For weeks before the event, the four had trained on the football field next to the Mahé primary school. The first three men were worried because Sioux was not fast. They decided the he would be given the last leg hoping that the first three would run fast enough to give him a good lead to at least finish well if not winning.
From the start the small Mauritian community made its voice heard. After the first leg run by Ague, Cathan took the baton and quickly surged ahead of the group of runners. He was fast enough to give my dad a fairly good lead.
During his college days dad was nicknamed the “Galloping Major” because of his speed in the 100 and 200 metre races. His speed also made him a good right winger for one of the football teams of Mauritius.
Dad indeed increased the lead and the Mauritians went crazy. He passed the baton to Sioux who grabbed it and rushed forward. But half way around the track he began to falter and one by one the competitors overtook and left him behind.
The final result was Seychelles College first, the British British team second followed by a couple more. Michael Sioux came in last a good gift yard behind.
(c) The last event was the 'Tug o War’ which opposed an island team to the British visitors. Ten men on one end and ten on the other end both teams holding the rope tightly. A white cloth was tied the exact middle point of the rope. Ten yards markers on either side of the cloth marked the spot that the cloth had to be pulled over to be the winning team. Bulging arm and leg muscles, determine looks, tight jaws…
The competition was intense as the trainer of each team called the moves that the team followed, stepping forward and backward. Giving ground and taking it back. The men dug their heels to prevent slipping. The Tug o War went on, the cloth going one way then the other. The crowd went wilder and wilder.
Eventually the island team collapsed to one man and the referee declared the British winners. The competitors shook hands and hugged. It was all done in good spirit.
Suddenly the cheers of the crowd stopped as the sound of drums echoed from behind the Sang Dragon trees that bordered the field. The Royal Marine band was coming and the sound of military music filled the air. The band entered the field and what a show it was. Navy blue uniforms, gleaming gold buttons running down the coats, and red stripes along the side to the trousers. White pith helmets held by gold straps around the men’s chins.
Beating the Retreat is a spectacular display of marching forming different patterns, all very spectacular. The Sergeant Major gives orders with a golden cane that he points to the right or left, or throws in the air. The ceremony was enthralling and the crowd watched the display in awed silence.
Finally the band was silent as one man played the Last Post on the bugle, and the British flag that had been hoisted early on the morning of Empire Day was lowered.
The final command “Royal Marines by the left quick march” broke the silence and the band marched out of the field. The music was the traditional Royal Marine tune of “Life on the Ocean Waves”.
The crowd followed walking behind as the band walked along the Long Pier to the motor boats that would take them back to the warship. The kids ran along all the way bumping into each other but careful not to disrupt the band.
I have attended many more Empire Day celebrations and sport days in Mauritius, but none as exciting as the 1952 Empire Day and Sport Day in Victoria.
Goodbye to the Seychelles
By early 1953, my dad’s tenure as the Pastor of the Victoria Seventh Day Adventist Church was drawing to a close. Our family began to prepare for the departure. There was a mixed atmosphere of sadness and joy in the home. We children were sad because we were going to leave the place where our childhood had grown roots, and we felt some vague joy because we were returning to Mauritius after almost eight years spent overseas. I must admit that the joy was mostly felt by my parents because my two brothers and my sister had no memory of that country and my own was very hazy.
We only knew that our grandparents, uncles, aunts and a couple of cousins lived there. On dad’s side, there was Grandma Eva, Aunt Judith, her husband, Uncle Sam and their two children, Orette and Gervais. On mum’s side, there were Grandpa Patrick, Grandma Alicia, Uncles Fred, Jim and John and Aunties Carmen and Magda. Every now and then, we had received black-and-white or sepia-coloured photographs of them. But as far as being able to put faces to names was difficult for us kids.
As mentioned earlier, the irregular connection between the islands was by boat. A few two- and three-mast schooners that linked the many islands of the Seychelles archipelago sometimes went as far south as Mauritius for sugar. Captain Celtel informed our parents that ‘The Revenant’ was scheduled to leave in early May, bound for a dozen islands, and Mauritius was her final port of call.
From that moment on, time went by quickly, what with packing our belongings in large metallic chests and selling the things that we could not take with us. To make sure that the chests would not get lost, dad painted the family name in thick black letters onto the sides and the lids.
The church family organised a huge farewell party for us on the Sunday before our departure. The church social hall was packed with the many friends, young and old, that we had become attached to. I remember lots of food and drink and presents and tears, and Ina and I sitting together and furtively holding hands under the table. The adults pretended not to notice, but it was not so with the kids who, in turn, walked by whispering, “Eddy content Ina, Ina content Eddy” (local patois for Eddy likes Ina, Ina likes Eddy). Reminiscing, I smile at the sweet childhood innocence of the 50s.
The Revenant left its berth on Sunday May 3, 1953 on the journey that would take us back to Mauritius. When we had left Bombay back in 1949, nobody had come to say goodbye to us. Not so, this time around. Most of the church people had come to say their farewells and it seemed that the hand-shaking and kisses mixed with tears, would never end. Then we were on our way and screeching seagulls accompanied the vessel for quite a while, diving into the sea and squabbling over morsels of food thrown overboard. The gentle waters of Victoria gradually changed into the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean. Four weeks would pass before we sailed into Port Louis Harbour. Dad was never comfortable on water and he felt even worse on the 160-ton sailing ship buffeted by wind and sea. He remained in his bunk, except for calls of nature and the very light meals that he had.
Not many people have had the experience of crossing the ocean on a two-mast schooner dependent on the trade winds. The Revenant did have a small auxiliary engine that was used only when no wind blew. At such times, the vessel travelled very slowly at about three nautical knots an hour, as compared to the nine or 10 knots, when the winds were favourable. One interesting aspect was that every morning, the crew cast baited fishing lines that trailed behind the ship. Now and then, they would check for a catch or two, so we always had fresh fish for lunch and dinner.
I have always enjoyed reading and I had come across the name, ‘CuttySark’, when I was still a boy. The Revenant was nothing like the elegant clipper that carried tea from China and wool from Australia to England in record time. But the imagination of an eleven-year-old boy had no problem conjuring up images of The Revenant racing its more illustrious cousin... and winning.
The Outer Islands
The journey took us to a number of the beautiful islands on the far side of the Seychelles archipelago. The people on these secluded islands were dependent on the visits of such schooners as The Revenant for supplies. Our first stop was at a small coral island called Marie Louise. The hundred or so people who lived there had two main sources of income, catching and salting fish and collecting the eggs from sea birds. The Revenant regularly stopped there to deliver goods and to take away the produce of the island. Sea bird egg omelette has a slight fishy taste and flavour. Because of the shallow water, the boat anchored a few hundred yards from the beach. The passengers were glad to set their feet on solid ground for a couple of days, and dad was certainly the most pleased of everyone. It was during the stopover that I saw dolphins for the first time. They were quite tame, swimming close to the bathers. Today, the Marie Louise is known for its large colonies of birds that attract eco tourists from the world over.
Our next stop was at the island of Saint Pierre. Almost circular in shape, the island was covered with trees that provided safe nesting places for sea birds. Bird droppings had accumulated in certain areas of the island over the centuries and turned into ‘guano’, a highly valued organic fertiliser (before chemical products replaced it).
I am mentioning this stopover only because disembarking was a perilous exercise that has to be seen to be believed. Most of the island drops abruptly into the ocean, except for an area where a jetty had been built. Unlike other coral islands, Saint Pierre is not surrounded by reefs that break the surge of the waves. This made disembarking difficult and, to avoid crashing into the jetty, the boat would anchor a few metres away.
The crew would rig up a crane with a boom extending over and beyond the side, to load and unload goods and get the few daring passengers that wanted to go ashore onto the jetty and then back onto the boat again. Because of the swells, the man controlling the crane had to wait until the deck was level with the jetty and then, with a quick manoeuvre, lowered the large metallic basket fixed to the end of the boom. If he were to miss, the basket would crash onto the jetty or fall into the sea between the jetty and the boat. The men on board the ship and those on the jetty had become quite good at judging the right time for the manoeuvre. As I remember it, only a handful of daredevils among the passengers decided to put themselves into the swinging baskets.
By far, the most enjoyable stopover was on the island of Farquhar, a beautiful atoll that surrounded a shallow sapphire-coloured lagoon. The atoll consisted of the North and South Islands, with a couple of very small islands in between. A narrow channel gave access to the small harbour on the North Island. From there, a dirt road wound its way through the coconut plantations. The passengers of The Revenant numbered 10, and they were all Mauritians returning home. We crowded into the small Austin truck that belonged to the company that exploited the coconut plantations.
We stayed for five days in the plantation house on the North Island and what a pleasant and interesting visit it was. The small population consisted mainly of the families of the employees of the plantation and the factory that extracted oil from the kernel of the coconut. The administrator had put a programme together to make our stay there enjoyable. On the first day, he took us on a tour of the island, followed by an informative visit to the small rudimentary factory. The process of oil extraction captivated me as I took in the clanging noise of the oil extractors and the characteristic smell of coconut oil and crushed kernels.
On the second day, we were taken in two outboard canoes to Ile Goelette. Hundreds of gannets, frigates and other sea birds nested on this small coral island. Every space on the ground and every tree branch was occupied by birds screeching and squawking. Birds flying out to sea or flying in with their catch to feed their young ones filled the air with the swishing sound of beating wings. Freshly laid eggs and old cracked eggshells were strewn on the sandy ground. Now and then, a shoal of sardine-sized fish swam across the lagoon and, in quick answer, dozens of birds darted down, folding their wings at the point of impact, reappearing with wriggling fish in their beaks. There was a kind of crane-like bird that nested in the mangroves. According to the guide, those birds worked in teams that would step in the shallow water and form a kind of circle. Then they would lower their wings to trap the small fish to get an easy meal. I must not forget to mention the dolphins, which the locals called ‘cosson lamer’ (ocean pigs) because of their blunt, flat snouts.
Possibly the most spectacular sight that kept our party gazing into the sky were the high-flying frigates that would suddenly dive down onto a band of returning gannets. Frightened, the gannets would regurgitate the fish from their bulging stomachs, which was what the frigates were after. They would then launch into the most steep sky dive one can ever imagine, and swoop down so fast that the eye could not follow them. Then, reversing in midair, they would catch the half-digested fish before they could hit the water. The guide told us that the smaller sea birds had devised a way to get their catch to their nestlings, despite the frigates. Some would fly at a higher level and some at water level. The frigates would go after the former, giving time to the latter to reach the safety of their nests.
Our dinner was sort of formal as the administrator’s personal cook took care of preparing the food. She used her ‘savoir-faire’ to prepare some very tasty meals with the limited variety of produce that the island provided. She made fish with different sauces and roasted breadfruit with butter running over. No potatoes available? Not a problem, as yams and other kinds of tubers were a tasty and nutritious replacement. After dinner, the adults would sit back and chat or play parlour games. The four of us had made friends with the cook’s kids and we spent the evening playing hide-and-seek until dark and then went for a refreshing dip in the lagoon before going to bed.
Maybe my best memory of Farquhar is that of us kids having the time of our lives on the rickety cart drawn by an old stubborn donkey. The animal was temperamental and would sometimes take off galloping as fast as it could with everyone holding onto the sides for dear life. At other times, it would stop and absolutely refuse to budge. After a while, satisfied perhaps for having proven a point that only donkeys know of, it would resume pulling the cart, to our great satisfaction.
Farquhar was so much fun that I could have stayed without giving a second thought to Mauritius. When the time came to set sail again, there was a sort of nostalgia hanging in the air as we made our way to the harbour. Captain Willy Celtel and the two officers had left early to get the ship ready. As before, hundreds of sea birds flew overhead, providing us with a wonderful display of aerial acrobatics. We were on the final stretch that would take us to Mauritius.
A storm at sea
The deck of The Revenant was barely ten feet above water level. I enjoyed sitting at the bow with my legs dangling over the side, feeling the cool spray as the ship sliced its way through the dark blue Indian Ocean, leaving a snowy-white trail behind. One crew member would sometimes come and chat with me. There were interesting things to watch, such as shoals of flying fish darting out of the water, remaining airborne for up to 200 metres to escape predators. He explained that the hunting predators would follow the shadow of the flying fish and catch them when they returned to the sea. One morning, a couple of large birds were lazily gliding above the white sails of The Revenant and they followed us for quite a while. The man told me that they were albatrosses. Striking to me was that their wingspan largely exceeded the length of their bodies, which indeed made for a strange-looking bird in flight.
Then the unexpected happened. Sitting in my usual place, I noticed that the waves looked larger and meaner and the sails were groaning under the pressure of the wind. Not too long after, the captain came down to the dining lounge, where the passengers, minus my dad, were having lunch. He looked preoccupied and pretty worried, which soon caught our attention. He informed us that the weather forecast was not good. We were on course to cross the path of a tropical storm, ‘cyclone’, was his word. He ordered the passengers to stay in their cabins and not leave until he said that they could.
As time went by, the wind grew stronger and the waves fiercer. The captain ordered all the sails lowered and everything on the deck secured. The ship would be powered only by the small auxiliary engine. By then, the white-capped waves looked like small hills bearing down on the ship. Crashing into the bow with a roaring sound, the water hurled itself over one side, flooded the deck and escaped on the opposite side. Soon the cabins had filled with water to a depth of at least 20 centimetres, causing the small luggage to float to and fro. Everyone stayed in their bunks, apprehensively wondering when it would stop. The rolling motion made us sick and the stench of floating vomit filled the cabin. The storm battered The Revenant for almost 24 hours until the fury gradually abated and calmer weather returned.
No one had left their cabin during the storm, not even to go to the bathrooms located at the stern of the ship. We did not feel very hungry either, just exhausted emotionally and physically, the adults more so than the children. Eventually, the captain gathered all the passengers in the lounge and told us that we had been lucky indeed. The anemometer had showed a wind speed of over 100 kilometres an hour and the waves had 10-metre troughs. He went on to say that very early on, the radio antenna had been ripped off, effectively preventing communication from and to the ship. Had The Revenant sunk, it would have been days before anyone found out. There was an audible sigh of relief.
On inspection, it was found that the main mast had been damaged, which made the larger sail useless. The ship speed was reduced and it would take us a few more days to reach our destination. Life gradually returned to normal. The cabins were cleaned, the wet clothes hung out to dry and activities resumed. During the whole time, poor dad remained in his bunk sleeping away the storm and its aftermath.
Twenty eight days after leaving Port Victoria, The Revenant slowly sailed between Fort George and Fort William at the head of Port Louis Harbour, under the control of the harbour pilot who expertly berthed the ship along Quay D. We were back in Mauritius exactly six years and six months after leaving for India on The Tisseville, a Belgian roop carrier.
I was four years and ten months old when we left in December 1946 and 11 years and two months old when we returned in June of 1953.