Just a lady in a crown
and the commemorative pin
ONLY five years old at the time, Naresh Lalloo barely understood what was happening—but he knew the commemorative pin he had been given was a symbol of something great.
Fifty years later, as Trinidad and Tobago celebrates its golden jubilee of Independence, from his box of memoirs, Lalloo has retrieved the small, gold-coloured brooch that was given to hundreds of citizens on August 31, 1962.
After all this time, the brooch has remained untarnished.
One side of the coin-shaped pin bears the words: Trinidad and Tobago Independence. This is repeated on the top of the other side, with “Together we Aspire, Together we Achieve” at the bottom. They encircle an engraved portrait of the islands with the date.
Lalloo, of Enterprise, Chaguanas, was a pupil of the Lendore Hindu Primary School, when all the students were told of the liberation of this country from the British.
“I knew we were getting a Prime Minister,” Lalloo said, recalling the appointment of Dr Eric Williams, the leader of the newly-born People's National Movement (PNM), as the country's first Prime Minister.
“I also knew we were going to see the Queen. We were all taken to the Southern Main Road, a short walk from the school, to line up for the Queen's motorcade that day.
“I didn't get to see her face very well but I remember thinking that I never knew the Queen was just a lady in a crown.”
Lalloo remembers the cheering of the children and of later being told of plans by Williams to make education this country's strongest resource.
Much has changed since then in Lalloo's eyes and much has stayed the same but all in all, Trinidad and Tobago is still a good place to live, he said. It is still a place where people can rely on each other and where peace is still dominant.
“I am really glad I have kept this pin,” he said. “It is nice to have a piece of history like this to pass down through the family.”
Lalloo's gift of a brooch to mark the occasion has moved around with him as part of a coin collection, eventually making its way into a stash of items passed down over time. Among them, identification cards of grandparents born in India and a ration card of the type used by locals to access food during World War II.
He remembers stories from his elders of the long lines, as colonial citizens of T&T, still under British rule, waited patiently for their rations of staples, mostly rice and flour. The typical ration card was actually a small booklet, with the coat-of-arms of the former colony at the top and “Trinidad and Tobago Consumer Card” written on the front cover. The inside cover features a list of rules, such as “On leaving the Colony this Book must be deposited with the nearest Food Distribution Office or Police Station. Failure to do so renders you liable to prosecution.”
The back inside cover features the bearer's name, address, registration number of the Colony and the name of the recipient's regular supplier.
Pages include a grid headed with either “Rice” or “Flour” and each box in the grid was ticked off as the bearer, who was also required to present a State identification card, received the goods.