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One of the best voices imitating the great Mohammed Rafi was Paul SOOKHAI who passed away on Friday 8th Dec 2017. Paul lived all his life in the village of Avocat.
He was a contemporary of such local greats as the Sookdeo brothers from Debe as well as Kailash Kowlessar and other singers especially of film renditions in the 60’s through to the 90’s. He was considered a heavyweight in his time and was admired for his range of Rafi songs and his voice which commandeered the very high notes for the high Rafi was also famous.

I lived a stone throw away from Paul and would listen to him practicing his renditions by beating on a table which was a significant instrument of accompaniment.

Paul would sing at his home long into the night especially on weekends accompanied by Dhanraj Singh who still remains inimitable for his rendition of Gange.

Paul was a tailor by profession along with his brother Stew. For years he served the people and of Avocat and environs and also worked at Acme in San Fernando
He sang for the now internationally famous Dil E Nadaan and also for the Gemini Indian Orchestra.

He competed on Mastana Bahar and fm 103 Dekh Tamasha. Paul’s mother was also a good singer of weeding songs along with Parbatee, Birjin Kakee and Majlee Seegobin (deceased) whose daughter Mynee (now deceased) played Dholak at the barahees and weddings. It was in such a rich and active cultural community that Paul grew up and flourished as a singer, I am sure that there are many who remember Paul SOOKHAI and would mourn his passing.

I remember very vividly. I remember sometime in 1969 our neighbors the Ramsaroops who, Lived just opposite us in Avocat we’re having a function and Paul was singing along with his brother Matrix along with another friend of his by the name of Manna. He sent me home to get my harmonium and I recall him Encouraging me to sing the bhajan Mujhe Apni sharan May Lelo Ram. To be complimented by him and sing at the same function Was a big thing for me.

We mourn his demise but value his contribution to Our cultural heritage. Had people like Paul and others not maintained our cultural traditions who knows what the remnants would have been. Today and in the future the Indian community would continue to build on the foundations developed by people looking Paul SOOKHAI.

Blessings to him And condolences to His family.

Surujrattan Rambachan
MP Tabaquite

Photo Courtesy: Hindi Songs TT

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