Wednesday, 25 June 2008

WWII – through one family’s eyes (backgrounder on Burma to India)

For those who need it, some background information. My thatha (grandfather), an accountant, served the British government in Burma, specifically, in Rangoon. During WWII, all civilians were ordered to evacuate and go back to India. My grandfather sent his family, comprising my grandmother Ranganayaki, daughters Soundara, Kodai and Seetha, sons Raghu and Narasimhan, back on the last ship from Rangoon to Calcutta. Salvaging what they could, my grandmother, along with her brood, travelled on the ship and reached India. After great hardship, she then reached south India where they all stayed with my grandfather’s family, in Sevilimedu, awaiting my grandfather's safe return.

Meanwhile, my grandfather stayed behind to serve the government, till they were asked by the Brit govt to go back to India. He, along with a group of other Indians, did just that. Only, they had to trek all the way back...

Reading this real life incident again and again, I think of how lucky my life, our lives have been and give thanks to the wonderful people that my grandparents were.

As a young girl, this seemed the height of adventure to me and I insisted that my grandfather should dictate this 'story' to me, so that I could have it all written down and read it whenever I wanted to. I still remember writing it down on the back pages of my history notebook, as my grandfather, late Shri Sevilimedu Raghavachariar, dictated it to me in the 1980s (exact year unknown), in Mylapore, Madras (as it was known then).

My handwritten version was proof read by my Periappa late Shri N R Ranganathan, in Hyderabad and converted to typewritten copy by his daughter and my cousin Sumathi Ranganathan, also sometime in the 1980s.

Next post: Burma to India, one long walk....

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