Tributes paid to long-serving Hildenborough newsagent
By kentsussex | Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 09:46
A "STUBBORN but generous" newsagent who ran a Hildenborough shop for 22 years has died.
Bhagwanji Brahmania, known to all as Ben, was the proprietor of Fags And Mags in London Road until shortly before his death on August 19.
The 72-year-old's two children told the Chronicle their father, who died from a form of bone marrow cancer called myeloma, worked almost until to the end.
His son Eryck Brahmania, 30, said: "He loved to work. We had been badgering him for a while because his health was deteriorating. His customers were worried about him too.
"But then, when he wasn't physically able to do it any more, he finally decided that he had to stop."
Daughter Carina Peigne, 33, added: "He was very reluctant to give up the shop because he enjoyed people's company so much."
Mr Brahmania was born to Indian parents on the island of Zanzibar in 1940, and moved to England at the age of 23 to seek better opportunities.
After stints as a London bus conductor and telephone operator, he opened his first shop in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, with his wife ******ie 34 years ago.
After the couple divorced, Mr Brahmania bought the general store in Hildenborough, which later became solely a newsagents.
Carina, 33, said she and Eryck had come to help their father in the shop most weekends during their teenage years.
She said: "He was very stubborn and not always the politest of men. He wasn't so good with his Ps and Qs, and also could be quite abrupt and a bit shouty. That's how he's always been – we were very used to it, but it could be quite embarrassing if he was with customers and he would act like that.
"But we knew that, despite the way he was on the exterior, he was quite generous to people. He would always be there to help people out, especially financially."
Her brother added: "He was a very simple man. He didn't lead a glitzy lifestyle."
In fact Bollywood film lover Mr Brahmania worked so hard at the shop that, for 19 years, he took no time off at all bar Christmas Day. Later in life, however, he did discover a liking for travel.
Carina said: "He went to India for two weeks in 2003 and that was the first time he had been since he was a little boy.
"He went to see where his parents and grandparents were from and found some relatives he never knew he had.
"He went back to see them again on subsequent trips. He came back really happy."
Eryck added: "We were always telling him to slow down his pace of life and enjoy himself a bit more, but it never quite came. He just wanted to work."
Mr Brahmania's funeral took place at Tunbridge Wells Crematorium on Monday.