(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Few people knew the softer side of Sat Maharaj and many branded him as controversial not knowing that behind his acidic tongue, Maharaj had a heart that could have melted stone.
Such were the tributes at his funeral service at the SDMS headquarters, St Augustine, yesterday.
Principal of Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College Sonia Mahase and president of the SDMS Primary School Principals Association Sharmain Bhagaloo-Maharaj, who both paid tribute to Maharaj, fought hard to contain their emotions yesterday as they recalled the integral role the general secretary of the SDMS played in building a strong education system for its 43 primary and five secondary schools in T&T.
The courtyard of the SDMS was filled with hundreds of mourners who braved the rains to pay their last respect.
Reflecting on Maharaj’s life, Bhagaloo-Maharaj said he made landmark victories at the Privy Council.
Maharaj’s greatest achievement she said was his advancement in education.
“He transformed our SDMS schools, which were first called and labelled as cowsheds, into prestigious learning institutions.”
Under Maharaj’s guidance, Bhagaloo-Maharaj said these schools today stand as beacons in communities.
“He was adamant that no child in an SDMS school should be left behind.”
Bhagaloo-Maharaj said those who “fell short” would feel Maharaj’s fiery outburst behind closed doors.
She said Maharaj also had “a warm and gracious side that few were aware of and experienced.”
Trying hard to contain her tears, Bhagaloo-Maharaj said Maharaj was a “loving, caring father figure, a mentor, guide and confidant whose shoes will be hard to fill.”
Bhagaloo-Maharaj said principals and SDMS selfishly prayed for Maharaj to live to 100 but they all knew he was here on borrowed time.
“You have fearlessly fought and won your battles, go and rest now with your wife Shanti,” Bhagaloo- Maharaj said, her voice cracking as she spoke.
Mahase spoke about Maharaj attending the school’s graduation ceremony on November 7.
“At one point he turned and said to me, when we win our fifth consecutive President’s Gold Medal he was going to apply for a holiday for all SDMS’ primary and secondary schools to celebrate.”
Maharaj, however, did not live to see this happen.
Standing behind Mahase was the school’s 2019 President’s Medal winner Celine Roodal, who was applauded for her achievements. The school won 40 scholarships.
She said Maharaj would have been proud of the scholarships achieved at the Vishnu Boys’ Hindu College and Shiva Boys’ Hindu College.
“He has ensured that all his secondary schools have been placed on a trajectory of success.”
Mahase said Maharaj was uncompromising, passionate and at times a hard taskmaster.
Apart from being their pillar of strength, Maharaj was their mentor and visionary.
“He became our guru, our touchstone and confidant,” Mahase said, trying hard to fight her tears.
Mahase said Maharaj ensured that the education of females remain a priority while he stood proud of the strides made by female students in the CSEC and CAPE examinations.
President general of the SDMS Pundit Krishna Rambally said the last thing Maharaj fought against was the sedition law.
“He discharged his responsibility with finesse and tact. He was not one to be easily discouraged. His legacy stands as tall and strong as he did. We have lost a great leader.”
Those who knew Maharaj could attest that he was a loving individual.
Rambally assured that the work of the SDMS will continue in keeping with Maharaj’s vision.