A brief glimpse at my roots.
|Bonus Prompt: Go on a journey of discovery!
It was unbelievable for me to have heard that my great great paternal grandfather and his brothers were diamond merchants. They hailed from a small town named Narasapur, in Andhra Pradesh, my native state in the south of India. Research showed that during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries, there were 38 diamond mines in Andhra Pradesh. Jean Baptist Trevernier (1605-1689) French gem merchant and traveler, went to Andhra and collected details regarding diamond mines and merchants. Later, he wrote a book entitled “Travernier’s travels” in which he included details.
My paternal grandmother told my mom about my ancestors’ diamond business of which she heard from her mother-in-law years earlier. My mother mentioned some of those interesting tidings to my siblings and me after we grew up.
She told us that some of our distant relatives were still living in Narasapur. It was the hub, where my ancestors lived and thrived. It had a minor port, a fishing harbor and a jetty for small craft like fishing boats and passenger boats. Now, it is developed it into a full-fledged port.
I gathered that legal records establishing my forefathers’ existence are available at Narasapur. One vital proven fact is that our surname “Andey,” comes from these ancestors. Our surviving relatives in Narasapur share the same surname. I was told that the prosperous diamond trade was abandoned long back due to lack of funds among other reasons.
Their mode of business was to purchase diamonds directly from the diamond mines situated in the districts of Kadapah and Ananthpur in Andhra Pradesh and set sail to other ports to find prospective buyers and sell their goods for a profit. My great-great grandfather and his four brothers were believed to be in the same line of business. It was on one of those voyages that a calamity struck. The cyclone hit them and all the men and their treasures sank in the river which at that point merges with the sea. There was no trace of them or their belongings. No evidence is available about these occurrences except through word of mouth.
Back home, their families were believed to have been thrown into a serious crisis. Children of those four brothers became orphans overnight. Fate played a capital role. Those children were divided among relatives to be taken care of.
Taking the responsibility of bringing up my great grandfather fell to his maternal uncle, who was a farmer. He had let his nephew go to school and get some formal education. The nephew lived on to become a school teacher. The British Raj was well established in India by that time.
Unfortunately, there is no available evidence regarding the children of the other three brothers of my great grandfather.
After marriage, my great grandpa settled down to a life of teaching in a primary school, in a town called Rajahmundry, by the river Godavari, in Andhra. He had four sons. They pursued different careers. Their education was better than their father’s. With the result, they had chosen careers of their liking.
The oldest son, named, Andey Subba Rao held a railway job after clearing the interview. He later migrated to a place called Nagpur, in the state of Maharashtra, India. His children were born and brought up in that milieu, language and culture of which were different from those of Andhra. They, however, prospered in different walks of life. Their visits to the ancient house in Andhra, on the other hand, were few and far between.
The second son, Andey Krishnamurthy worked in a local printing press. He was childless.
Next in line was Andey Narasimha Swamy. He went into broking business. His only son also had the same business. He bought material from the railways at a cheaper rate and made profitable sales out of it. He too lived in Rajahmundry. His wife was from a well-to-do family and they had six daughters and four sons. All the children except the eldest daughter became lecturers in different subjects, namely, English, Telugu, Physics, Medicine and Commerce, worked in various colleges in the home state only. They used to visit us and I remember attending some of my cousins’ marriages with my parents.
A few of them are no more. My contact with them is infrequent. A number their children migrated either to either the US or the UK.
The third son was my own grandfather, Andey Venkata Ramayya. He completed school final, took the Metric exam and passed. He too was a school teacher. He was appointed by the then British Government to teach the prisoners in the Rajahmundry Central Prison. Later, he founded his own bookstore and stationery shop. My grandmother was from the same town. They had five sons and three daughters. My father was their eldest son. I have a clear memory of sharing home with my aunts and uncles. Joint families were a norm those days. Their affection and caring made a deep impression on me. I can recall one of my aunts reading the story of the Ramayana, which was serialized in the Sunday edition of the regional newspaper, to all of us. Her voice took me to those ancient times, when wars fought and mythical beings existed.
The fourth and the youngest son of my great grandfather was a bachelor. He did some odd jobs around the town and lived his life.
One thing I notice about them is that there was unity and support among my grandfather’s brothers. Nobody suffered due to lack of money or company. Their needs were few and so were the problems.
So, these are some details of my roots. Eventually, I would like to investigate and uncover more details regarding my forefathers’ life, profession and other details by visiting Narasapur, their place of origin and evolution.
I haven’t met all my cousins. I hope to meet them by organizing a family union on some occasion. No doubt, it would give us all a better sense of belonging and togetherness.
Word Count: 1013
Written for Roots and Wings, a Bimonthly Contest.