Never say die attitude

Subhash Appana receives his teaching excellence award from USP's vice-chancellor and president Professor Rajesh Chandra. Picture: SUPPLIED

FROM a small settlement nestled beside the chiefly village of Vuna on Taveuni, Subhash Appana was raised by his parents at their family farm.

Subhash is the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE) senior consultant and manager operations.

“My father had the largest yaqona farm on the island at the time, but of course prices were not like they are now. You can imagine how different my world would have been had these prices prevailed then,” Subhash lightly shared.

“I was educated at Vuna District School, at South Taveuni Primary School and at Wairiki Catholic Mission School and Wairiki Secondary School before joining Indian College (Jai Narayan College) in Suva for secondary education.

“I remember leaving home for school by the 6am bus and arriving back at 6pm daily.

“The roads were rutted and dusty and often our hair looked like steel wool by the time we got back home.

“I guess there is a never say die attitude among people who struggle during their early days. There were lots of complexes I carried, but that’s for later narration via a book I hope to complete in the not too distant future.”

Subhash said he was born off a South-Indian father and a North-Indian mother.

“This was a very rare union at the time and there is a rich story behind it. The very language that I spoke was my mother tongue, Hindi which was spoken by my parents,” he said.

“There was another language that I was hearing incessantly in my first few years of life and that was Fijian.

“You see, my nau (grandmother) my father’s uncle’s wife was an iTaukei lady of chiefly descendant from Kanacea.

“She was the one who looked after me when I became too much of a burden for my young mother.

Nau was very fond of me and brought me up like her own in the traditional iTaukei way of living.

“I still recall some of the lyrics of the children’s songs she used to sing to me. I still retain the nickname she gave me — Pusiloa (black cat) because I was a dark offspring of fair parentage.”

He said he was one of those rare Fijians who was ethnically “Indo-Fijian but was culturally Fijian”.

“To tell you the truth, I’m more comfortable speaking in Fijian than in Hindi,” he said.

He said there had been a lot of challenges in his life. “This has probably honed me and made me stronger.

Remember it’s the person who falls and gets up to go on to succeed — ultimately has the stronger character.

“This is why I hesitate to back boxers who are undefeated. The pages of life never turn the way you want them to turn.

“There are constant obstacles, challenges, unexpected developments this what makes life so interesting. We just have to take each page as it comes and work out how best to work through it.”

Today, Subhash’s career continues to move and he hopes it takes further turns so that the richness of his experiences is amplified further.

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