When one of my older brothers started out at Corentyne High School (now JCCSS) in September 1959, he was completely in awe of all his new teachers. He would come home and speak about their knowledge, professionalism, and ready wit. One of those teachers was Mr. Jacques Sanichara Jaikaran. In my own little mind at the time I saw these men as a cut above ordinary mortals. I looked forward with anticipation to the day when I too would sit in a classroom and gaze at these legends.
Long after high school I got to know Dr. Jaikaran quite well. He insisted on being called Jacques. Jacques told me many inspiring stories about his struggle to break out of the plantation system. Believing in his abilities he was convinced that he will make his way into the world.
To be able to afford a high school education he first had to go out and cut cane. Back then Port Mourant was a grinding sugar estate. With the money saved, Jacques enrolled at Corentyne High School starting out in Form 4. Two years later, in 1956, he excelled in the London examinations and was invited by Mr. JC Chandisingh to teach at the school. Jacques taught a range of subjects including Math and History in the Fifth Forms.
By the end of 1959 Jacques was ready to make his next big move. He left British Guiana for Trinidad where he boarded a cargo ship bound for England. He arrived at the British seaport of Southampton after an epic six-week voyage. He only had two hundred Guyana dollars in his pocket. Believing in his destiny and knowing that he will not get a penny more from home, he was determined to put himself through university and qualify as a doctor. As he told me, “Do or Die was my resolve.”
Upon becoming a doctor one of the first things Jacques did was to ship a complete set of Encyclopedias for the Corentyne High School library. These volumes were still there when I attended CHS. In 1988 when the school, by then re-named JC Chandisingh Secondary School, was celebrating its 50th anniversary, Jacques was there for the full week of celebrations. He told me a video was made of the event and was kept in the HM’s office.
As recently as a few years ago, Jacques shipped out a vast collection of books to our JC Guyana Chapter for the benefit of the JCCSS library as well at the UG Tain Campus library. Jacques himself has written a book called “The Debt Virus” which has to do with Money and Banking.
Late last year I asked Jacques to put his life story in writing for the JC Centenary Book which our younger grads are working on. He said he will do it. Just a few weeks ago Jacques and I and some other grads were planning to meet in NYC this Summer for dinner and the customary libation. The conclave may yet take place. But Jacques will not be there.