A wonderful gesture of healing Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
July 13, 2002

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WHEN Tekchand called ‘Ome’ bent over the almost lifeless body of little Nickace Charles and breathed into her mouth, he did not only save a life, he also infused a healing breath into the entire nation reminding each and every Guyanese that their collective humanity is greater and far more important then the sum of their ethnic divisions.

The man the Chronicle dubbed the “Good Samaritan” did not witness the accident on the Mahaica Public Road on Thursday. According to reports, he happened upon the scene moments after the child of Good Hope, Mahaica, had been struck down by a minibus while she was attempting to cross the road. The little girl was hurled into the air by the impact before landing in the middle of the road. There, while a curious and shocked crowd assembled and watched, Nickace lay bleeding and senseless. The man who would become her Guardian Angel was riding on another bus, which was approaching the accident scene. Like other onlookers, Tekchand, too, was curious about what had happened. On seeing the child lying on the road, he reacted swiftly and instinctively. “I jumped out of the bus and ran towards her. She didn’t appear to be breathing and her body was limp,” he said later.

In turning her over, Tekchand noticed faint signs of life and he decided then to revive her by performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Within moments, the child began responding. With the blood from her injuries staining his shirt, Tekchand lifted her tenderly and placed her in the minibus, which reportedly had hit her, and demanded that the driver take them both to the Georgetown Hospital. The Good Samaritan later told the Chronicle that he had experienced no reservation about rendering the life-giving gesture to the child. He said he had happily done it out of love. “There was nothing else I could have done on seeing the child lying on the road in that condition. It’s a human life,” he said simply, but profoundly. Nickace’s relatives were equally profound in their appreciation of his humane gesture. “We got to thank God for this man here, because hadn’t it been for him, Nickace might have been dead by now.”

The story of Nickace, an Afro-Guyanese child and Tekchand, an Indo-Guyanese man, has special resonance at this time for the nation, riven as it is by ethnic and political tensions, endless recriminations, the soul-sapping trading of insults and the sporadic eruptions of violence. Scores of persons called to congratulate this newspaper on the story, which was published yesterday, and to comment on its message of healing and hope for the country. Tekchand’s action is a wonderfully humane and affirming gesture, which should serve to give pause to those persons hell-bent on demonising one or the other ethnic group and sowing seeds of hatred and intolerance.

But while we applaud Tekchand’s selfless deed, we must remind those who may have forgotten or those who are too young to know, that this action could be multiplied hundreds of times in the everyday existence of ordinary Guyanese. For generations persons of different ethnic backgrounds have lived and worked side-by-side helping one another without negative references to racial or cultural differences. The 50-something descendants of East Indians and Africans all treasure memories of peaceful co-existence before the civil disturbances of the 1960s. An African woman would feed the children of her Indian neighbour when that neighbour has to be away from home on important errands. An Indian woman would look after the children of her African friend when that friend experiences one domestic emergency or another. And even today, beneath the currents of the political divide, there are myriad instances of worthwhile and sincere inter-relationships that would defy any glib analysis by sociologists.

Let us hope that more and more Guyanese would renounce the politics of hate and regard one another as Tekchand saw Nickace - as a “human life”.