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Maurice Souresh Persand

We all have a story to tell; our experiences are worth sharing – they can inspire others or simply bring back memories of Mauritius in the old days, or the early struggles of migrants. Please share your life stories. Send us your thoughts in English, French or Kreol and a picture if you wish …..

My Life Story


Let me introduce myself: my name is Maurice Souresh Persand, I am at present living in London with my children. I have decided to start keeping a diary, the beginning of which I am sharing with you, for as of April 2014 I was diagnosed with cancer. This is my life story:

I am originally from the island of Mauritius; I left my country of origin in 1970 for Ostend, Belgium. After spending some time there, I left for Paris, journeying by car. I was dropped off at the Gare du Nord. New in the country, in this large city in Europe, I did not know where to go. I ended up sleeping rough for a few days at the station; during the day I would visit the place, look around, amazed by almost everything I saw. At night I would return to the station and find myself a bench to sleep on;  one day all I had to eat was a French baguette and half of an unripe banana.  After a few days, a friendly person offered me a little space to sleep in a garage. That person understood my predicament: that I was young and far away from home.  It was very cold, and this climate was new to me; I did not know where to go. Being offered this place in the garage was truly a boon. I started selling biscuits, which cost 5 francs a packet at the time.

After six weeks I could no longer stay in Paris, I was cold and homesick; I decided to return to Mauritius. However things back home remained difficult; I found  life with my new stepmother increasingly unbearable. I started to work as a travel agency representative. After six months had passed I managed to get myself a free ticket with the travel agency and I decided that I would go back to France. However on this occasion I was much better prepared and I booked myself into a hotel at la Rue Jarrey at the Gard de l’Est. As Paris is so large a city and so beautiful a place, I was behaving like a tourist visitor.

While there, I began a brief relationship with a girl; however, to this day I am still unsure about how the affair started and how it ended. Some things remain too complicated to fathom and to put down on paper – I was very young at the time.

Shortly afterwards I found work as a packer with a food company, which also involved pushing a trolley around in the station. I was looking forward to be promoted to working behind the counter, and my employer offered to help me obtain a work-permit, which would allow me to stay for a long period of time; with a view to obtaining French nationality eventually.

After a few years working for this company, I did receive my papers and French nationality. I was over the moon, when I heard the news!

Very soon after, an opportunity to travel to England came my way. I was offered work in Minehead, Somerset. The employer would be applying for a six-month work-permit for me; it was all manual work. The employer knew of me and my work in Paris; my contract of employment was for six months, to be working as a kitchen assistant. It was in 1972; food and lodging to be provided. At the time my favourite food was “oeuf et puces”.

After three weeks there, due to lack of staff, I was offered a position behind the counter in the restaurant. And after four weeks, to my surprise, I was made ‘Maitre d’Hotel’; I had to wear a black suit, with a bow tie. After six months, my position was made permanent. I was walking on air! But I wanted to go back to France.

However, before leaving for France, I met a girl who would change my plan completely. We fell in love and I stayed in England. After only a few months, we got married. I started working as a cleaner for British Rail; my wife was working as a nurse. At the time, we were renting one room, with communal kitchen and bathroom. We had a baby girl together, and my wife stopped work. I was working 12 hours per day and seven days a week, in order to keep our house; I did this for almost 22 years. We also had two sons who were born in England.

Our three children received the best education we could provide; my wife is due all the credit for this, as I was away working a great deal of the time. I managed to buy my own house, although with great difficulty. We achieved a comfortable life; whatever the children wanted I was able to provide for them.  The children reciprocated by studying hard and eventually went to university. One of them obtained a degree in Law and another a degree in chemistry/pharmacology.

It is sobering to reflect that I started working as a kitchen assistant and then as a cleaner, and through evening studies and various promotions I was able to climb the economic ladder and ended up obtaining a management role in British Rail. Life was great. The children started working; my daughter married and had two daughters of her own. My sons are still living at home!

Life changed drastically for us when my wife passed away on the beach in Blue Bay in 2005 whilst on holiday in Mauritius. I could not bear the fact that she was gone; grief made me so ill that I had to stop working in 2006. My life is full of pain; however, I try to look forward with a positive mind-set – to getting better, by the Grace of God. To relish and savour every minute that I have on this earth, with the people that I love.