Short Story: Roses on the Atlantic for a Flower from Guyana – By Bertrand Ramcharan


By Bertrand Ramcharan

They had traversed the Atlantic half a century earlier, from Guyana to London, in pursuit of higher education. They had both obtained doctorates from British universities, and their only son had also received a doctorate in Switzerland. They had been a happy family, and she was the inspiration: beautiful in mind and body, beautiful in honour, and gracious in personality. Such a lovely person.

And now, half a century later, she had been called to heaven. And he was again on the Atlantic, but this time alone. And he thought of her; much. What a gem of a person she had been. She had been his strength, his anchor, his solace. 

They had achieved much together. He had gained world recognition as an international leader and diplomat, a scholar. She had pursued a career she loved and then gave it up to be at his side when he was called upon to perform high international functions. She missed the job she had given up. But she was happy to be at his side and she glowed in the milieu. She had a simple elegance. And he was always so proud of her.

Then she fell ill. And he gave it all up to be at her side. He cared for her. He accompanied her throughout a devastating illness. He was always at her side, hugging her, letting her know that he was there, always. She undoubtedly knew it, felt it.

Then, when the moment came, he silently watched her as she faded away blissfully. He was thinking of her dignity. He was steely in his resolve.  Yes, she was gone. But she would not suffer any more. That is what was important. His feelings were secondary. And yet, she had been his life; and she was no more.

His maintained his resolve. At the memorial service for her he asked that they play, “You light up my life” by Barbara Streisand. As her body descended into the flames they played at his request, “Goodbye my friend.” As she went, she travelled with a red rose from him and one from her son. Her ashes are in what the French call a caveau, and he hopes that his ashes would join her one day. The caveau is adorned by a single engraved rose.

And for the next year he resumed some international activities, travelling a fair deal. He carried her photograph everywhere. And he asked her to give him strength in his journey alone. She had been his strength.

And now he was on the Atlantic and his thoughts were of her. On a stop in the island of Barra in the Western Hebrides he picked flowers in the field and, as the liner caressed the Atlantic later, he offered the flowers to her and hoped that the spirit of the dedication would traverse the Atlantic and reach the shores of their native Guyana.

And then, once more, as the liner traversed the Atlantic from the Western Hebridean island of Lewis, where he had visited the Callinish Standing Stones dating some 5,000 years, he once again shared a dozen red roses with the Atlantic in a tribute to her. And he hoped that these roses would also traverse the Atlantic to the shores of their native Guyana.

And so, dear reader… if you come to hear about a dozen red roses traversing the Atlantic, please know that they are hers.

Roses on the Atlantic for a Flower from Guyana.

This was written by the husband Bertrand G. Ramcharan of Guyana, a former United Nations official who once held functional diplomatic status, was elected in January 2011 President of UPR Info, a non-governmental organisation based in Geneva working to promote and strengthen the Universal Periodic Review. He is also Chancellor of the University of GuyanaSenior Fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies and currently visiting professor of international law in Lund UniversitySweden. Dr. Ramcharan is the first holder of the HEI Swiss Chair of Human Rights at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies. He has a doctorate from the London School of Economics and is a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn.

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