Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Uriel Narinesingh: remembering a literary giant

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2018 | 12:00 AMYvonne Teelucksingh

"Mourn not for me, my friends

Beautiful is the path I choose to tread:

My heart is as free as the wind which embraces the dawn,

Before me glows an aura of light leading to the endless joy of heaven, where peace drops gently as the dew, on tired eyelids of weary travellers."

(Glimpses of the Soul - Uriel Narinesingh)

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, scores of people gathered at the Paraiso Auditorium in Claxton Bay, Trinidad, to say their last goodbye to Uriel Narinesingh, a well-known writer, a prolific poet, and an admired teacher.

Narinesingh was born into an the extended family home surrounded by a large estate, coconut plantations, orchards, and an animal farm. It was not surprising that the gifted child had a special affinity with nature.

She attended the Union Presbyterian Primary School. At 14, she began her career in teaching under the supervision of Dr Andrew Moonir Khan, Principal. Under his tutelage, Narinesingh successfully completed her teachers' exams and went on to obtain the University of Cambridge School Certificates at both 'O' and 'A' levels through private self-taught study.

Following a brief period at the Esperanza Presbyterian Primary School, she enrolled at the Naparima Teachers' Training College from which she graduated with the second highest marks in the island. With a passion for learning, Narinesingh applied and gained admission to the London School of Economics (LSE). Life, though, was not without challenges. Due to ill health, she was forced to return to Trinidad and Tobago after six months.

And at 34, Narinesingh underwent open-heart surgery. It was a trying time for the young educator and her family. After her recovery and undaunted by her health challenges, she threw herself back into her vocation. She was re-employed by the board of the Presbyterian Church and eventually let down her bucket at the Couva Government Secondary School, where she became the senior English teacher. Despite her enthusiasm, her health waned and so reluctantly, she opted for early retirement from teaching.

This setback, however, saw the emergence of a unique talent in the literary arts. She focused on writing, and with her background in education, Narinesingh collaborated with her siblings Clifford, Roy, Uric, and Roma to establish Royards Publishing Ltd, known throughout the English-speaking Caribbean for its quality educational books at both the primary- and secondary-school levels.

Narinesingh co-authored many text books including Anthologies in Literature for Caribbean Schools and Language Courses of Secondary Schools for the Caribbean Secondary Examinations Council (CSEC). In a survey conducted by the Oxford University Press (OUP), it was reported that 85 per cent of schools in the Caribbean had adopted her series Comprehensive English Course for Caribbean Secondary Schools.

Narinesingh also co-authored the Rainbow Readers with her sister, Roma Sinanan. Its success led to a special edition being commissioned, especially for primary schools in Jamaica.

As a community leader, Narinesingh pioneered Royards Presbyfest, an annual arts and literary festival for primary Presbyterian schools across the country, which has been running for fifteen years. In her family, she passed on her love of the English language to her nieces and nephews and assisted financially when necessary anyone who wanted to pursue writing. It is not surprising that many well-received publications are authored by a 'Narinesingh'.

An accomplished writer of 20 books, she also found time to indulge her own passion and love for poetry by producing two volumes of poems. The first, Glimpses of the Soul, can be found in special bookshops, while the second volume is soon to be released.

Narinesingh will be remembered as a literary giant and a caring individual who counselled and who assisted those in need.

Fittingly, Narinesingh may have well described herself when she wrote, "for man's life is exalted not by wealth, status or worldly possessions, but by the richness of his heart, the beauty of his spirit, and the quality of his life."

Feedback: glenvilleashby@gmail.com /romasinanan@gmail.com