My father passed away when I was fifteen years old, and I did not have the chance to ask him all the questions I wanted to, as I was finding my way through Life. Add to that, the fact that both my parents migrated from pre-partition India when they were just children, meant that there was very little “family history” to access, except for anecdotes shared occasionally by the family elders.
After my mum passed away last year, I had to go through many files filled with old documents, to figure out what was worth keeping and what could be discarded. Little did I know that I would learn many aspects of my past through those yellowed pages…
Here’s every thing I found out for the first time in my life:
- My great grandfather’s name was Bhai Tanwarmal
- My grandfather – Bhai Girdharimal – was a ‘Provision Merchant’ in Waritar (Sukkur, Karachi)
- My grandfather had actually bought an insurance policy way back in 1939, underwritten by the Bombay Life Assurance Co. Ltd., for a sum assured of Rs. 1,000!
- On 14 August 1947 [Yes, the eve of India’s independence!], the Sind Government Gazette (Karachi) published names of 92 people that had passed the ‘Wiremen’s Examination’. Among them was my father – Viroomal Girdharimal.
- As of November 1950, my grandfather (now living in Lucknow) was being paid the princely sum of Rs. 28 (not clear if it was monthly or annually) under the ‘Displaced Persons’ Maintenance Allowance’ by the Government of India
- Documents dated 1952 prove that my grandfather had at least four buildings to his name, totalling more than 2,100 sq. ft. in all, located in Garibabad, Sukkur City – all abandoned. [This is the first and only evidence I have ever witnessed in my own family of the “many properties that displaced migrants (like us) had to leave behind during the partition”!!!]
- My father passed the Matriculate Examination in March of 1952 from ‘The New Model High School Sukkur’ at the age of 16, with “very good conduct”. Remarks on his Leaving Certificate also mention that “He is good sportsman”.
- My mother passed the S.S.C exam in 1956 from ‘The Girls Model High School, Dadar’, where she had studied from March 1951 onwards
- As per the ‘Pharmacists’ Registration Certificate’ dated June 1961, my father – Bachwani Virumal G. – was duly registered in the Uttar Pradesh Pharmacy Council as a registered pharmacist [This is the earliest mention I have ever seen of my family surname – Bachwani!]
- In October 1963, the ‘Office of District Relief & Rehabilitation’ (Lucknow) certified that “Sri Bachwani Virumal s/o Sri Girdharimal is a bonafide displaced person from West Pakistan”
- On 7 May 1967, my grandfather passed away of heart failure at the age of 78, in Hasratganj (Lucknow)
- My father joined the Health Department of the Bombay Municipal Corporation as a ‘Pharmacist’ (K/East Ward) in April 1974, where he worked until his death in 1990
What a treasure!
P.S. If you don’t know about your past and still have access to someone who can tell you, ask them today.