My mother was a product of her upbringing. The stiff upper lip, a legacy of the British Empire, was left behind even after independence and it became the trademark of my mother’s parental home in Madras, which is now known as Chennai, a South Indian coastal city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Stoic, hardworking, frugal; her family was among the ones who appreciated the finer aspects of art by way of music, playing musical instruments, art and craft. Movies were one among the list of taboo topics and books were meant to educate and elevate the brains and not meant for entertainment. The family lore goes that my affluent grandmother was one of the few children who had a perambulator. She was a genteel lady and often used the word, ‘cultured.’
My Mother Niranjan Kaur Flora was born in the town of Ramghar Punjab India, on July 12, 1941, the second of four girls and one brother: Jaswinder Kaur, Niranjan Kaur, Gurbax Kaur, Jasvir Kaur and Mohan Singh. In Sikh families all girls are named Kaur as all boys are named Singh.
Writing our mother’s story was a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect upon her life. And what a life she had. Our mother was born in the small village of Mehta,in the Punjab in India. The year would be a guess because no one kept birth or death records in her village, probably sometime around 1910.
It was hot, a very hot day, sultry, just before monsoon season, but there was exuberance in the air, there was love, excitement, and celebration. It was 1915 in Jamalpur India, during the colonial period of British rule, and perhaps ruin.