Ode to my grandfather’s ancestry

Recently, I had a chance encounter with my grandfather’s box of documents and family history. I am twenty-two years old with a bare minimum knowledge of the history of the British Raj, and yet I am still able to comprehend the gravity of these heirlooms. A memoir preserved through decades by several generations.

Independence Postcard

At the time of Independence, he chose to join the newly-created Pakistani Civil Service, and this decision effectively terminated his employment with the Indian Government. I remember him telling me that when Pakistan was created, the new Civil Service used these Indian postcards and ‘Pakistan’ was stamped on top of the image of King George VI.

Baba’s Philatelic World

It was only in 1968, at age 11, when my father began arranging the tiny sheetlets, he amassed, into the leather-bound albums that have now been passed on to me. By 1972, he had a collected over 6,000 stamps that were distributed evenly in eight albums.

The Blue Passport

In 1989, my grandfather applied for an India-Bangladesh Passport, the only passport he ever had. This passport was unique in that it allowed lateral movement between India and Bangladesh only. Perhaps this document was the most coveted one for all those who migrated to India from Bangladesh. It holds with it an ocean of memories of struggle and identity.

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