A Family of Freedom Fighters

A Family of Freedom Fighters
My husband, Bijoy Sharma, standing extreme right, with his family. Bamungaon, Assam. Circa 1942 

It is unusual to see Bijoy clothed in a North Indian Dhoti (loose drape pants) because most young boys his age wore half pants. Apparently he had begun to dress like an adult to display his commitment to the independence struggle; perhaps he felt that serious work required an adult attire. And he was not alone in his commitment - several leaders of the Independence movement had recruited large numbers of young boys to act as secret messengers to deliver letters in nearby towns and villages. Whenever the policemen came around on suspicion and to arrest Bijoy (they would come around often) his proud mother Pareshwari Devi would instruct Bijoy - “If you sign any police papers for an early release, do not come back to this house”.

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On our last name ‘Telang’

(Top Image) My parents, Rajaram and Annapurna Telang. 1956 (Bottom image - Hand painted Photograph) My siblings, Ramesh and Snehlata. 1955. Islampur, Sangli District, Maharashtra. IMP Research Intern : Priyanka Balwant Kale, Pune Image and Narrative Points contributed by Sumedha Deshmukh, Pune The above photograph is of my parents, Rajaram and Annapurna Telang, taken in Urun-Islampur (Islampur for short, in Sangli District) Maharashtra, in 1956. The image below shows my older siblings, Ramesh and Snehlata, photographed in 1955 when they were two and five years old. My father Rajaram or Appaji, as we would call him, had learnt photography and would paint on his prints often. Appaji served as a bank employee throughout his life, and was a perfectionist when it came to his creative interests. My parents’ families were originally from a village in Hyderabad State (now in Telangana state) called Manthani, Peddapalli district, on the banks of river Godavari. It had a unique composition with the majority of the population of Brahmin caste and a minority trader community called Komati living together in complete harmony. Our last name at the time was Yellishetty, still used among our relatives.  With fewer options of employment in his village as well as deeply felt discrimination by a rather tyrannical attitude of the Nizam Shah, my grandfather along with his family migrated to Karad (originally known as "Karhatak or"Elephant Market”), Bombay Presidency (now Maharashtra state) via the Hyderabad-Nanded (Marathwad) route in 1915. Marathwad, was part of the then Hyderabad State and a nodal point between Marathi and Telugu culture. Fearing exclusion from the nearby village communities for being dark-skinned South Indians, even if from a village of Brahmins. My grandfather adopted the last…

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The Kurukh Adivasi family of Argora

Here my aunt stands straight and bold, with her hands crossed, next to her elder sister (standing middle), Ramkrishna, whom she lovingly called Chamguru, as it was the name of the village she was married into. In the middle, seated is her eldest sister Seeban with her two daughters, Peetal and Dol. The little boy is their youngest brother Vimal. The awkward gentleman standing right most was their next door neighbour. Badi-mumma cannot recollect his name but says that Vimal had invited him to be photographed and he acceded. The photograph was taken outside their home by their bhatu (brother-in-law) Naru Toppo, Seeban’s husband. Naru was a local  professional cameraman and a studio-master. His studio was located in one of the sectors set up by an Industrial corporation, HECL (Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited), not far from their hom

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From Karachi to Bombay

From Karachi to Bombay
My mother Indra's family. Karachi (now Pakistan). Circa 1930

My mother Indra's family. Karachi (now Pakistan). Circa 1930 Image and Narrative points contributed by Roma Mehta, Taipei Volunteer Assistance : Myra Khanna, New Delhi This is one of my favourite photographs of my mother Indra’s family. It was taken in front of her family’s home in Sindhi Colony in Karachi, almost a decade before the partition of India and Pakistan took place. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact date but I estimate it was the 1930s. It is possible this photo was taken on the occasion of my uncle (mother's brother) Moti’s wedding but I cannot confirm it. Sitting in the middle are my grandfather, Gaganmal Jhangiani whom we fondly called Baba and grandmother, Laxmi Bai whom we called Ammi. Around them sit his children, his brother’s children and a relative-in-law. Baba was a tall and dark complexioned man, and Ami was petite and fair. To me, they seemed like ebony and ivory. Ami and Baba used to play together as children and when Ami turned 12, the families got them married. It seems that my grandmother had basic elementary education but like most women of the time, she became busy with domestic matter and household duties. My grandfather was an architect by profession and had studied in England. I have been told that he was instrumental in designing and planning the Sindhi Colony in Karachi. Life was good for the family : they had a lovely home, a horse carriage, and a great love of music and culture. Each one of them knew how to play an Indian classical music instrument. The family would even sing together on many occasions. My mother, Indra always told us stories…

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My mother’s journey from India to England

My mother’s journey from India to England
My mother Dr. Rehana Bashir (middle with sunglasses) at the Bombay Airport with her friends and family. Bombay, Maharashtra. March 31, 1957

My mother Dr. Rehana Bashir (middle with sunglasses) at the Bombay Airport with her friends and family. Bombay, Maharashtra. March 31, 1957 Image and Narrative contributed by Sohail Akbar, New Delhi This photograph, as the handwriting below tells us was taken on the 31st of March, 1957 at Bombay Airport, Santacruz. Among the many photographs that adorn a very beautiful album maintained by my mother, Dr. Rehana Bashir, I find this picture the most fascinating, perhaps because of my love for airplanes and airports but also because it is the first picture of a photo album that is primarily a pretext to my mother’s life in England as a student. This picture is clearly my mother’s favourite too as it the opening image of that album. My mother Rehana was the only daughter born to Prof. Bashiruddin and his wife Shafiq Begum (standing left most in the picture) in 1930. Her father was a Professor at the Aligarh Muslim University and was a true modernist. He sent his daughter to St Mary’s Convent in Allahabad (UP), one of the best missionary schools in the state. She did well in studies and qualified to study Medicine at Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi. The year was 1949 and India had only recently achieved Independence, though the scars of partition were very visible. The best story that she has about going to study in Delhi is the scare that her father’s friends had tried to instill in his mind - of sending a young Muslim girl to study alone in a city where a number of people of the community had lost their lives in the partition riots. But my maternal grandfather was…

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