Help rebuild the Rajkumar legacy
- By: Kashmira Raghu
- Short URL: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/rishi-rajkumar
Hi, my name is Kashmira and I'm from Durban.
This is the story of a little shop that endured. Rajkumar, my great grandfather, was known in the Tongaat community as a hardworking and charismatic businessman who built himself from the ground up. Through his trade as a builder, he gifted each of his three sons a house and shop to ensure their self-sufficiency.
The hilltop they occupy came to be widely known as Rajkumar’s hill. Sometime in the 1970s, my grandfather, Premlall, (known to me as Nana) first opened the
doors to his shop and he worked, alongside his son, behind the register well
into his 70s and shortly before his death in 2017.
Surviving apartheid South
Africa posed many challenges, and my grandmother (Nani) helped to supplement their income by selling wood and paraffin from her kitchen door. It was enough to keep them afloat and they became beloved members of the small farming community in Tongaat.
I grew up in the 90s and memories of visiting my grandparents included unlimited chappies bubblegums and helping my grandmother with her kitchen door business, all while still enjoying the rolling sugarcane hills and the tranquillity of farm living.
My brother and I spent hours in their shop playing on their arcade machines. Some of my best childhood memories were made here. My grandfather had the calmest temperament and he managed to maintain this in most volatile situations. My grandmother was his rock, his anchor.
Up until the 13th of July 2021, Rajkumar's shop still served the rural communities in Tongaat. On Monday evening when KwaZulu-Natal was plunged into the worst civil unrest in its tumultuous history, the shop that stood for over 50 years was looted. Everything was taken.
After the looting, protestors threatened to enter my family’s home which lies a mere 20 meters from the shop. This was the most terrifying night of their lives. Thankfully, with some help from patrols on the ground and security detail, they were evacuated, but by the next morning, Rajkumar's legacy was razed to the ground.
Rajkumar’s, run by my uncle, Rishi, was the sole income for my 81-year-old Nani, my 13-year-old niece, and my aunt, who lost her upcoming salon business during the first COVID lockdown. Besides being a historical site in Tongaat, and a source of happy nostalgia for me, this shop was my family’s only means of income.
While they try to come to terms with what’s happened and figure out their next steps, and to the suggestion of many generous Redditors, I have decided to make this page to help them. The next few months will require mammoth amounts of healing for KZN as a collective as we find more people in similar situations exacerbated by mounting food and fuel shortages, but we can only get through this if we help each other.
I appeal to anyone who feels their heartstrings tug at the image above
of the small spaza shop in flames, who understands the pain of having your home or space violated and can relate to an uncertain future, to please consider
donating to our cause.
Every little bit will help to feed this family and forge a new way forward for them. Rajkumar’s legacy lies not in the ruins of this shop, but in the way, it served the community.
We hope to continue this legacy in any future endeavors with the same charisma, resilience, and unflappable disposition that has built and maintained this business for half a century.
- Jul 20, 2021 - R 200.00
- "I hope the shop will continue :)" - Sarisha
Rishi Rajkumar Support Cause
Hi, my name is Kashmira. This is the story of a little shop that endured. Rajkumar, my great grandfather, was known in the Tongaat community as a hardworking and charismatic businessman who built himself from the ground up. Through his trade as a builder, he gifted each of his three sons a house and shop to ensure their self-sufficiency.