Updated: Jan 31
Geeta continues to search for her grandfather
I always had a yearning for my Nana( maternal grandfather), Ibrahim. My Nana was a Muslim, brought to Fiji from India in 1911, through the British Indenture System. After his five-year contract working in the sugar cane fields, he chose to stay in Fiji. He married my Nani Sarai and had four children. After my Nani’s death in childbirth, Nana left their four children in an orphanage and returned to India; never to be heard of again.
In 1980, I was assigned to help an official delegate in securing copies of Indian archival records in order to index them and make them digitally available. He knew I had a personal desire to find my Nana. The delegate asked me to FAST (to meditate without food or drink, to be in tune with deity) to help with our search for Nana’s records. When we walked into the Archive room with the British ship logs stacked from desk to ceiling, my first reaction was, “How on earth do I find my Nana’s record?” The delegate’s response, “Are you fasting? Go and pick a log and start searching!”
THUMBING THROUGH THE VERY FIRST LOGBOOK! I found an Immigration Pass for Ibrahim! “But there must have been a hundred and one Ibrahims!” I thought. THEN I NOTICED THE THUMB PRINT! I HAD THIS POWERFUL FEELING IN MY HEART! I KNEW! THIS WAS MY NANA IBRAHIM! Then Nana’s marriage records confirmed our miraculous discovery! We had found MY NANA IBRAHIM!
It wasn’t until 2015 that I had the opportunity to go to India to search for my Grandfather’s village. The four-hour drive to the village we were directed to, was futile. The whole village was empty – all had gone to a wedding. On our return to Delhi, we researched more. It was a miracle that we were able to talk to the Deputy Secretary, Mr. Bhardwaj, without an appointment. He directed us to the Palwal District Records office. We did not find anything there. We tried the Government Land Records of Sector 12, but the Patwari (Government official over land ownership) had nothing for us.
So far I have not been able to find records of my Nana in India, but with the inspired prodding of a Friend we directed our efforts in helping other Indians do their Family Research. It has been an AMAZING Journey! I KNOW I will find my Nana one day! I hope I will be able to inspire and help make it possible for many others to find their family through this community, its resources and collective wisdom and experience.
This could be what my grandfather looked like. I hope to find a photo one day.