“[…] Our teacher pinned our small flags on our blouses and we had to hold hands with each other. We then walked clockwise around the school.
“Every child had to recite one line of the national anthem. We then had to jump up in the air and, when landing on our feet, shout loudly: ‘Side by side we stand’…”
In the following Letter to the Editor, Trinidad and Tobago artist Indra Persad Milowe, who now lives in Salem, USA, recalls Independence Day at home through her art:
Photo #3348. Painting # 1 – “Side by Side We Stand”:
This painting brought me right back to when I was 10 years old. I was a student at Curepe Presbyterian School and the week of Independence was full of excitement with getting our own flag and learning the words of the National Anthem of Trinidad and Tobago.
My favourite part was when we lined up outside our school. Our teacher pinned our small flags on our blouses and we had to hold hands with each other. We then walked clockwise around the school.
Every child had to recite one line of the national anthem. We then had to jump up in the air and, when landing on our feet, shout loudly: “Side by side we stand”.
Later we stopped and sang together while raising our hands back and forth: “Here every creed and race find an equal place, and may God bless our Nation.”
In this painting, I have transposed the children of my youth to the Red House in Port of Spain. Each and every word of our national anthem has stuck in my head to this very day.
Photo # 3355. Painting # 2 – “Flag Guarded My Hopscotch”:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu called Trinidad & Tobago a “rainbow country” because of the many different races and traditions that make up the national character and society. We harmoniously blend influences from African, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, English, and native peoples.
On Independence Day, my parents took us to Eastern Main Road, Curepe, to see the parade and wave our flags. Our parents had a fenced-off garden where they grew vine vegetables. In the middle we drew a hopscotch on concrete that was our daily exercise routine.
We tied our flag onto that fence wire and left it there until we grew up. It had seen a lot of rain and thunder but we never took it down. The other flag belonging to my 7-year-old sister was tied onto our bedpost that we shared together.
Photo # 195. I am Indra Persad Milowe, a Trinidad-born visual artist living and working in Salem, Massachusetts, USA. My art brings to life many of my childhood memories of growing up in Trinidad in the 1950s and 1960s. My interest is in nature, still life and design.
I adored my St Augustine Girls High School art teacher, Mrs Helga Mohammed from Madrid, Spain. She was married to a Trinidadian.
On my first day in her class at age 12, written on her blackboard was: “Art is not only a painting hanging up on a wall, art is in every aspect of your daily life.” These words have stuck in my head ever since.
My paintings were chosen for the high school’s yearbook for two consecutive years. At age 15, I painted from nature, orchids on a branch. At age 16, I did a still life, a display of an apple, pear, and a bunch of grapes.
Those two paintings and all the incredible reviews that came with them lifted my confidence in my artwork. There is a personal story behind every one of my paintings.
I painted every single festival celebrated in Trinidad & Tobago, as well as all the folklore stories that I heard while growing up.
I retired from general, ophthalmic and psychiatric nursing in 2019 after having worked in England, Malta, Trinidad and the United States.
Through British Nurses Overseas, I was able to work in different countries. Ultimately, I decided to go back to art during my retirement. I prefer working on canvas with multi-colored and gold acrylic paints.
Editor’s Note: You can see more of Indra Persad Milowe at…
- Her website: www.indrapersadmilowe.com
- Instagram: indra.persad.milowe
- Facebook: Indra Persad Milowe