Leaving a footprint in a new country

2010-12-06 00:00

THIS is the story of my parents who hailed from Meerut in India. My dad was Chandu Sadaram, a Jat by caste. My mum was Gangadei Banwarilal, a Brahmin by caste.

My dad, being the adventurous man that he was, made a trip to South Africa by himself to ensure that this was really what he wanted for himself and his bride-to-be. Having satisfied himself that South Africa would provide new challenges and better opportunities, my parents set sail from Calcutta in April 1911 on board the Umkuzi XXXI.

Both my parents had secured jobs with George Samuel Armitage in Pietermaritzburg, a well-established brick and tile manufacturer. The company was taken over by Corobrik many years later. Today the Liberty Midlands Mall stands on the area where my parents worked very hard to sustain our family. We lived in the Bird Sanctuary area across the road from the mall. They earned about 10 shillings per month and lived happily with their 11 children. We were not wealthy but there was always enough to go around and we were content with what we had.

Many years later, my parents took another big step and relocated to Chase Valley and started their own farming business. They grew vegetables and flowers, which they transported from Chase Valley by hand cart to be sold at the market in Market Square.

The older children helped out with the planting and transporting. All the children helped with chores around the home and on the farm, including sewing clothes, cooking, cleaning, ploughing the fields and taking care of the younger children.

I still share some of these fond memories with my great-grandchildren today. I can recall walking back home after midnight with all my brothers and sisters after going to the cinema. Every year a few weeks before Diwali, my dad would take all the children to the river to collect clay. We would take this back home, mould it into Diwali lamps and my dad would bake them.

A few years on, yet again we had to relocate as our farm was being turned into a shooting range and training field. Our family finally settled in Greytown Road, Raisethorpe. By this time my parents had aged and my elder brothers took responsibility for running the home. Later they opened up Chandu’s shop in Greytown Road, Raisethorpe, which is still going strong today, a symbol that my parents’ legacy lives on.

My parents died and so did seven of my brothers and sisters. There are still four of us who remember our parents with pride and joy. My sisters are Kailashpathi Bhola and Dularie Hansraj. My only surviving brother is Dwarikarama Chandu who started working at a very young age at Kara Nicha’s and then later worked at Eddels Shoe Factory. Today he is retired and is 88 years old. It is by the grace of God that we have all seen this milestone.

It is with the fondest and warmest memories that I write this story about my family.

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