March 13, 2015
Dr Cecil Cyrus launches new book – ‘A Dream Come True’

Two prominent Vincentians, historian Dr Adrian Fraser and lawyer Parnell Campbell, QC, have described the latest publication of Dr Cecil Cyrus as having historic relevance.

The renowned surgeon launched his book, “A Dream Come True – The Autobiography of a Caribbean Surgeon,” on Thursday,{{more}} March 5, at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown.

Dr Fraser, giving an overview of the book, said that, in his opinion, the publication should be entitled, “Life and times of a Caribbean Surgeon,” as that is what it is, as well as being a pertinent reminder of the times in which we live.

Congratulating Dr Cyrus for so courageously and explicitly cataloguing his experience, Dr Fraser said that the book is commendable, as not many distinguished Caribbean personalities have written about their life experiences. He noted that local persons who have written autobiographies include Hugh Mulzac, Shirla Allen and Sir James Mitchel.

Dr Fraser stressed that with the book, you can separate Dr Cyrus’ life, into two parts, the part in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the part overseas, “but to do that is to almost destroy the duality, which shows a young man who stormed the portals of Queen’s University in Belfast and was shaped by his life in St. Vincent.”

He also described the book as a story of a man in pursuit and fulfilment of a childhood dream.

Dr Fraser added also that the book, apart from being about Dr Cyrus’ life, provides readers with a description of what growing up in the 1930s was like.

The early part of the book focuses on Dr Cyrus’ childhood in Layou, as seen through the eyes of a primary school boy and Dr Fraser opined that the happenings in Layou could have been about any part of St Vincent and the Grenadines, especially the rural areas.

He added that Dr Cyrus tells about his primary and secondary school life, as well as his sojourn overseas in Northern Ireland and England and his dream in return to serve as a surgeon here.

“I know that this book would be splendid and I anxiously awaited its completion, because I have a historic interest in the 1930s, the period of his (Dr Cyrus’) childhood,” said Dr Fraser, who described Dr Cyrus as having a remarkable photographic memory, as he recalls things like having left Layou to live in Kingstown at 6.45 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, 1939, in a bread van owned by someone called ‘Poker’ Agard.

The book also talks about popular songs and choruses from those days, while during the launch, a number of the songs were put to music with the help of Jeanne Horne and Geoff Venner.

The book also speaks about the making of canoes and drums and the throwing of seines, while it also tells about well-known characters from that era, including a musician known as ‘Browne’. The book also documents Dr Cyrus’ fear of flying, seeing his wife for the first time and witnessing a vehicle accident at age 11 and addressing the bailiff of the court as “worship” when he went to testify.

The book also takes note of visits to different villages to play cricket and going to school without shoes.

“His account of the practices, beliefs and customs make for fascinating reading,” stressed Dr Fraser.

Meanwhile, Campbell also spoke of Dr Cyrus’ photographic memory and him being brutally honest…“as not many writers writing their autobiography would produce every detail, no matter how favourable or unfavourable.”

Campbell added that it was interesting to hear Dr Cyrus speak about a doctor visiting Layou once a week and only attending to persons who could have afforded the fee. In the book, Dr Cyrus said that as a young boy of seven, he thought it disgraceful and was saddened and revolted by the fact that the doctor only looked at persons who could pay the money, “for I was occasionally one of the poor folks abandoned by that mean doctor and I longed to become a doctor to help.”

“Everyone should read this book, particularly young people. It is a necessary part of the education of younger persons,” said Campbell, who stressed that Chapter 30 – ‘By-products of Colonialism’ – addresses several ways in which colonialism caused persons to have inferiority complexes and left its imprint on persons who lived in that era.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Cyrus said that his book was a pertinent reminder of the times in which he lived and a catalogue of some of St Vincent’s meaningful, but unrecorded past.

“Times have changed so much and so relatively quickly that this generation is unaware of some of our tough past,” said Dr Cyrus, who added that there is a mere handful of persons that are able to tell about those times.

He said that he tried to make his book as real as possible by including the relevant dialect and other peculiar words.

The book, described as being written by a “truly outstanding Vincentian who is a sterling example of discipline, intellect, professionalism and honesty,” is available for purchase at the price of EC$90.