Bhai Anerood is gone. In equal measure Indians and Mauritians are grieving. Generally, winter has rarely been kind to SAJ but this time it has won conclusively.

After his sweeping victory in 1982, Bhai Anerood cried at breakfast time when he thought about the responsibility that has been bestowed upon him. To Sarojini who was perplexed at that after serving him his dinner, he said that he was privileged to have something to eat but he was wondering whether those who had put their trust in him were having anything to eat at all.

Nobody disputes his title as the father of modern Mauritius but the irony is that his departure coincides with the first Mauritian-made satellite orbiting Earth.

Bhai Anerood has been the guest of honour at many events organised by Alif Society since the mid-eighties. He was always punctual to the minute, never apologizing at the last minute. Not showing up without any excuse was un-Anerood; his entourage would call to say that he was leaving home and a couple of minutes before reaching the venue, the Aide de Camp would call again. This lesson in English punctuality would today be a great asset to our leaders.

Contrary to some members who were concerned about SAJ’s age and health, we decided to invite Bhai Aneerood as guest of honour at the recent dinner Alif organised in honour of H. E the new Indian HC in late March this year. He not only accepted as usual but delivered a magnificent speech leaving the audience in amazement.

During our pre-dinner cocktails SAJ would display an informality, courtesy, personal warmth and a charm; he would meet and greet everybody and take pictures. During dinner, he would put everybody at ease by his sense of humour, jokes and funny anecdotes about his life. This trait endeared him to everyone.

During one meeting, I dared tell him what politicians hate to hear: that the country’s leaders seemed to have lost their bearings, that he himself had taken some economic decisions that were not beneficial to the country, and whether he should not step in, with the benefit of his lessons, to guide those to whom he has bequeathed his legacy. His frankness was unbelievable: he confessed he had been ill-advised to which I retorted that he was a QC after all. No burst of anger and no “cume”. He kept quiet. However, his laconic remark on offering guidance – who do you think needs advice in the country? Everybody talks about rejuvenating the political leadership. Pravind has done it. Let’s wish him well.

In this blessed island, everybody thinks he is made of Prime Ministerial material. Mauritius has the good fortune to have had SAJ. It has lost a valuable leader in whose frail old body still burned the fires of hope. At a critical time for this country, we have lost a towering leader whose wisdom is sorely needed and whose political life would serve as a lesson to policy makers.

I valued every opportunity to meet him and was privileged to claim the friendship of this politically controversial man who had as many virulent enemies as friends ready to die for him.

I would borrow from philosophers to say to some people that counting other people’s sins does not make you a saint and to those in grief I would say

Past of ICE is Water

Future of ICE is Water too.

So Live like ICE,

No Regrets for Past,

No Worries about Future!

In the meantime, RIP Bhai Anerood.