When I was very young, my father used to work every day of the week, except on Sundays when he would sit under the litchi tree in our yard and listen to horse racing on the radio. I used to enjoy listening to horse racing by his side, and this is how I developed a passion for horse racing. One day I heard of a horse whose name was Port au Prince. I was very young at that time, and I felt a liking for this name. It sounded like the perfect name for a horse. I started looking forward to the races in which this horse would run. On the horse’s second year in Mauritius, the horse owner launched his own stable and Port au Prince was part of that stable. So, I became a fan of this stable, and this became my secret passion. I never talked about it to anybody at home, not even my father or my brothers.
Every time I opened the newspaper, I would turn to the sports page and look up the horses and have an idea of the stable’s chances. On weekends when I had to visit a close one or attend a wedding, I would organize myself to be free at the time of the races to listen to the broadcast on the radio.
Then one day, I read online that the stable was going to close after 28 years. I felt so many emotions inside of me. I knew I needed to do something to come to terms with what I was feeling. I went on the stable’s fan page and saw some people discussing what could be happening. I wrote a message saying I wanted to design a banner for the stable for the coming Sunday, the last day of the racing season. So I worked on the banner and decided to put on it the names of all the horses that the stable had over the 28 years, I tried hard to remember all of them. There must have been some 150 names. When I finished, I wrote a message on the banner saying thank you to the trainer and the team for giving me some of the best days of my life.
I got the banner printed and paid for it myself. It was the first and only time in my life that I created a banner for any purpose whatsoever. On Sunday, I took the banner and on leaving home, I told my brother: “I am going to the Champ de Mars with this, and I have no idea how the day will end really.”
When I reached the Champ de Mars racing course, I got a phone call from the trainer’s daughter; she was enquiring whether I had gone ahead to print the banner as I said on the fan page. I told her I was in front of the Champ de Mars just now with it. She immediately told me: “Why don’t you go and see my father; we live next to the racecourse itself.”
I did as she said, went there and knocked on the door, still holding the banner. The trainer’s other daughter came to open the door, and lead me into their living room. Moments later, the trainer whom I admired from afar came and told me: “Sorry to meet you in my pajamas; I am not even ready yet to go the Champ de Mars.”
I said: “It’s okay, I just came to say hello and thank you, not for this weekend, not for this season, but the last 28 years. “
I opened the banner and held it in front of him, and he saw the name of all the horses he had trained for the past 28 years. He told me: “This is probably the best gift I’ve ever got in my whole life.”
We chatted for a brief moment, and I left. I did not ask for some tips because I felt that it was not necessary.
I went to the Champ de Mars to watch the races of the day. The trainer’s daughter got in touch with me again and told me that it would be nice to unfurl the banner in front of the crowd. I took the banner and went in front of the group. They looked quite hostile, to be honest. I swallowed hard and approached one person and asked him whether he would mind helping me unfurl the banner. He totally ignored me. I moved to someone else, and he told me he wouldn’t help me because he never got any tips from the trainer. I moved to yet another person, and this time the latter told me the group were fans of some other stable, and I should try to go to the other stand. I did as I was told, and this time, one guy agreed to help me. We started unfurling the banner, but just then, everyone started moving, and the guy just let go of the banner and left. I realized that the race was about to start, so everyone was in a frenzy.
I was now on my own in the stands, and the trainer’s daughter came and asked me what happened. I told her I was not able to get anyone to help me unfurl it. Just then I got an idea, I told her, I will take it in front of the building, close to the racecourse itself. If the stable wins the race, everybody will come in front, and we will be able to open the banner there. The moment I said it, I knew that our horse would win that race, it seemed like a certainty, it was how it was always going to happen. The moments that followed happened like in a dream, the gates opened, the horse went in front, and nobody was able to catch it past the finishing line. The crowd was in rapture, and I went in front and said: “Someone, please help me unfurl this banner.”
Suddenly everyone was willing to help me while nobody was keen just moments earlier. The banner was unfurled. The trainer and his partner came out to welcome the horses; photographers got them to take photos in front of the banner that I designed. The photo later appeared in the Turf Club magazine for its 200th-anniversary edition.
Afterward, the crowd just moved, leaving behind the banner and I had to pick it all up. Here I was holding the crumpled banner in the form of a big ball in my hands, and I turned around and saw that everybody in the lodges was watching this strange sight.
After that, I felt I needed to go home as I was really tired. I took a taxi, and while driving, the guy asked me if I have won anything at the races that day. I told him I did not bet; I came to make someone happy. I told him the events of the day, and he listened. When I reached home, I asked him to tell me the fare as I took out my purse, but he refused to take any money for the trip. I insisted, and he said: “I can’t take your money. Everybody who went to the Champ de Mars to make someone happy and did not stop at anything. What you did is unique. How can I charge you anything?”
Later, when I thought of the events of the day, I wondered from where I gathered the courage to do all that I did. I realized that when you have something in you that you long to express, when you are faced with the possibility of losing it all and living your life with regrets, then suddenly nothing else matters, all your energy comes from inside, nothing from the outside, no fear or shame or fear, can stop you. This was the beginning of my beast mode.