How often does one get to name the Ag. President of Trinidad and Tobago as a character reference? I haven’t checked the statistic but I have had that honour. Dr. Linda Baboolal was a referee for my passport (T&T). And it was the last time I spoke to her.
I opened Facebook today only to see that Dr. Linda Baboolal has died. Dr. Baboolal is a physician by profession, a woman of integrity and compassion by nature. I first met her when she attended my youngest brother’s wedding at our home. She was Minister of Social Services then. She has been like a mother to him, for he raced cars with her husband, Dr. Michael Baboolal, and was a fixture in their home.
Dr. Baboolal is best known for her auspicious career in politics, serving with the People’s National Movement (PNM) party. She carved history in being the first woman to hold the office of President of the Senate in the history of Trinidad and Tobago (2002 – 2007). She often acted as President of T&T. Dr. Linda was Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan from 1992 to 1995. Among her portfolios were Minister of Social Development and Minister of Health. She was an ardent advocate of health, and women.
The sweetness of Dr. Linda laid in her humility. High rank and accomplishments never shadowed her “down-to-earthedness”. Calling her “Bowjee” or “The Honourable Dr. Linda Baboolal, Ag. President of Trinidad & Tobago” was only a matter of occasion – it did not change who she was. Rather, the character of Bowjee shaped her to care for our nation with true filial love.
In 2018 I went down to Trinidad to renew my passport (that had expired a decade ago). Once landed, I was a Canadian alien on my native soil, with no ID to show my citizenship there, no claim to the sand and coconut trees. I had taken Canadian references with me, completely oblivious to the fact that I needed Trinidadian referees whose addresses were on the island. Dr. Michael Baboolal (Linda’s husband and also a medical doctor) had signed my form, so when I had to find referees on the spot to meet the fast track for my passport, Dr. Linda was my choice.
I can still hear the sing-song of our Trinidadian accent as she answered the phone. “Sure, Susan, you can certainly use my name as a reference.” Dr. Linda then wished me well. I couldn’t have know that it would be my last communication with her on the twin-island republic.
Today, Dr. Linda Baboolal is resting in heavenly peace, healed of the pneumonia that has been stated as the cause of death. My prayers are with her family, her husband, sons and daughters. May the strength she carried to chart a nation, rise to carry them now in her absence. May they live for God so as to reunite in Eternity.
I pray for my brother, sister-in-law, and niece who knew the Baboolals as “family” (and were treated as such.) They attended many official functions and parties as guests of Dr. Linda.
I pray for our nation that mourns our forerunner, this woman who broke the male-ceiling after decades of independence, the champion of heath and social services that esteemed women, homes and families. Her life gave us women especially the permission to dream, and aspire, and achieve. Living up to the inscription of the Coat of Arms. Perhaps God will permit her to look down from the cloud of witnesses to witness the achievements of her noble life.
Until I see her in Eternity. With love for Dr. Linda Baboolal.
Citizen of Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago