I was young and working on the railroad in India. One day I went out to do some shopping and I met a Muslim recruiter who gave me some food and took me to a depot, and left me there, saying that he would be back shortly. I was not permitted to leave the place and then told that I was being taken to work in Calcutta. I was recruited in Mathura; from there I went to Kanpur then to Faizabad where I had a good look around, and finally to Calcutta. There we were taken in a boat to the seaside and given a piece of soap and asked to clean ourselves. We were also asked to take off our own clothes and given new ones.
When I reached Fiji I was taken to Wailevu estate in Labasa. Here married couples were given a room each. Three single persons shared a room. The first day I cut my hand with a blade of sugar cane. On the second day my hand became swollen. I did not return to India because I kept a woman here and married her. After indenture I left Labasa and went to Toorak in Suva. At that time I had over one hundred pounds. All this money I had saved during the indenture period. I had been a sardar who got twenty-one shillings a week. On top of that I kept a cow and sold milk.
In those days food and clothing were cheap.
Other women spoilt my wife. They put ideas into her head: she said that if she went back to India with me she would desert me in Calcutta, and that she preferred to remain in Fiji. I was not willing to leave her with money here and go back alone.
Others would have enjoyed what I had earned. For those who could not work the days of indenture were severe, but not so for the brave. Amongst ourselves we created a fund to which we contributed 6d per week to help those who might be fined or sent to jail. We took the view that if Europeans oppressed us we could combine and hit them and pay the fines from this fund. We also agreed that if we were sent to jail as a consequence we would serve our sentence. From the money collected we paid the wages of the person who hit a European and was sent to jail. I did not hit any European. But once, when a person was hitting a European I helped the overseer. I told the man who struck the European with a stick that if he repeated it I would use a knife on him. Thereafter, this European whom I helped while he was in Fiji, always told other Europeans that I had saved him. I was a sardar and therefore it was my job to stop men from hitting the overseer.
When I came to Fiji Fijians used to wear a loin-cloth of masi or a mat of leaves. They did not appear to know how to use shirts and singlets. When we used to go anywhere we used to go iii a group of seven or eight with a stick because we were frightened of Fijians.