OBITUARY

The younger son of Maro, the father and Kaubo, the mother Nao Jr breathed his last on February 22, 2009 due to kidney failure.

Nao Jr. was a rare individual who remembered many aspects of the Andamanese life. It was he who knew the Great Andamanese language, its ecology and folk tales. He was the sole light house who showed me the way whenever I was lost in the sea of ignorance. His knowledge about birds, their names and habits, flora and fauna and insects was remarkable. This showed how keen an observer he was. But for him our dictionary which has more than 150 words for fishes, and 121 words for birds and several other species names for shells, corals and sea creatures could not be enriched. He coauthored with me the first ever Book of Letters of Great Andamanese.

He was the only one in the community who remembered ten folk tales and he narrated one by one in a manner which will make the most educated teacher envious of her narrative skills. He had mastered the use of the digital tape recorder and would not be satisfied unless he listened to the whole narration before proceeding further. His favourite one was ‘Phertajido’, which exposed me to his emotional side of his personality. He was very sensitive and caring person. He was soft spoken to the extent that at times our tape recorder missed recording him.

Nao was very lonely especially after his wife Boa left him. This was the prime reason that he took to drinking. He wanted to give up the habit but could not. However, he had a decency of not making a scene or appearing in a drunk state in front of me or for that matter any woman.

His willingness to cooperate with me and with my team only shows that he was aware of the importance of language documentation as well as of the significance of his native language. His speech was primarily Jeru but was influenced by Sare and Bo.

With his death we have lost a gem of the Great Andamanese community and knowledge tank of one of the oldest heritage of the country.

Nao was the younger brother of Late Jirake the Chief. His wife came from a Khora community. He has left behind a son Bea aged 11 studying in the Vivekanand School of Port Blair.