Last August, I received a letter from Arts Council England informing me that I had successfully applied for funding to create a project called Sugar, Sugar. The first part of the year long project was to write and publish a collection of short stories based on historical archive at the British Library and the memories of the living descendents of Indentured Indian sugar workers.
They were contracted to work on sugar plantations in former British colonies like Guyana, Trinidad, South Africa, Fiji and Mauritius.
After I received the offer letter I set to work looking for inspiration for my stories. I sat for hours sifting through manuscripts, records and newspaper cuttings at the British Library. Eventually, I found a collection of letters written in 1884 by the Protector of Immigrants who was stationed in Natal, in what we now know as South Africa. It appeared to me that Mr L.A Mason was becoming more and more irritated by a troublesome Indian man who was trying to improve the lives of the sugar workers and their families.
The Complaint was inspired by these letters which can be found in a beautiful marble bound collection of records. Leafing through the thick paper it was still possible to smell the wood smoke, perhaps from a fire in the Protector of Immigrants parlour or from a pipe he would smoke as he contemplated the Indian man’s fate. It was this collection of letters inspired me to write, The Complaint.