January 2015 \ Diaspora News \ Mrs Leela Gujadhur Sarup

  • Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny (left) and Dr Sarup at the Kolkata Memorial

After a long and courageous battle, Dr. Leela Gujadhur Sarup left us and her soul is now resting in peace.

I met Dr. Sarup at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 in Chennai. My plan was to attend the famous diaspora event and to fly to Kolkata to get some information about the emigration archives. Fortunately, during the PBD, I was introduced to this charming lady who spent years at the various archives of India to save all the documents available about the indentured system. Her family left Bihar to settle in Mauritius and never lost touch with India where she finished her studies and married an Indian businessman.

She immediately invited me to visit her in Kolkata to check the records about Guadeloupe. I didn’t find precise information but at least, it was great to see from which district of North India Indian workers were hired to join the former French colony. The books were very beautiful and delicate with pictures from the past so I couldn’t resist and I bought them.

Since then, we regularly met here and there, I was closely following her work, she would share some material found about the proceedings or emigration acts. She wrote many books about History and kept pushing me to write about my family, which I’m now doing. We worked on common projects like the translation of Ganga story into French language and she eventually helped me to uproot again in India.

Dear Leela, thanks to you, we have now the keys to understand our origins. Thanks to your endless efforts, we have a Memorial in Kolkata where we can pay a tribute to our ancestors and we’ll do our best to carry on your legacy.

—Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny