To start with, a bit of an introduction: my family belongs to the ‘Kayasth’ community hailing from Uttar Pradesh. The kayasthas are the members of the literate scribe tribe and are traditionally accounts and public records keepers and administrators of the state. They have served high administrative offices in the early medieval Indian kingdoms and Mughal Empire. Even during the reign of The East India Company, kayasthas were placed in high administrative positions. However, the caste of the kayasthas has always been a point of debate with most of the community members arguing that they are highly educated “Kshatriyas”.
My paternal great grandfather was Shri. Ayodhya Prasad Srivastava. Unfortunately, I do not know much about his life. However, to my surprise, my great grandfather was one of the earliest students selected from India to study in the University of Oxford during the British Raj. After he came back from England he joined the court of Chunargarh Empire (present day Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh) as the chief accountant of the state. He was married to Smt. Dhamsa Devi who was the eldest daughter of a teacher from Kanpur. They later on moved to Balia after the Chunargarh state was merged with Oudh where they raised their two sons Mr. Lokendra Prasad Srivastava and Mr. Atma Prasad Srivastava.
My maternal great grandfather Manohar Das was born and brought up in Varanasi. Not much of his life is known to me apart from the fact that he was well read and ran a textile business. My maternal great grandmother belonged to a very poor family and was illiterate. They had four children Bhuvan Das, Purushottam Das, Narendra Das and Nandini Devi all of whom were well educated.
Lamentably, I never got to meet my paternal grandparents. Mr. Atma Prasad Srivastava, my grandfather, was a special magistrate in Balia court. However, according to my father he was a learned and sophisticated man. It is said that he was short-tempered. I suppose, I have inherited my temperamental attitude from him. He was married to Kamini Devi who was a graduate from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). My grandmother was a pious lady, devoted to Lord Shiva.
I did not know my maternal grandfather Mr. Purushottam Das, except that he had carried on the legacy of his father’s textile business. My maternal grandmother Brij Bala Devi, though, was a woman of authority. My grandfather passed away quiet young leaving behind 6 children and very little money. My grandmother was a trained singer of the Awad Gharana, and hence after my grandfather she started taking music classes and also occasionally did programs with All India Radio. I remember, as a kid going to my Nani’s place was the most exciting thing I did in my summer vacations. It was a yearly reunion for all the cousins. My Nani, used to make us sit round us in a circle and would tell inspirational and mythological stories. She expired last year, after living a long life of 92 years.
After my father graduated from the Banaras Hindu University B.Sc (Physics) his first thought was to continue his studies and do a Ph.D in the field of magnetism. However, he sat in the AFCAT (Air force common apptitute test) as asked by one of his professors. He got selected and moved to Air Force Academy, Dindigul near Hyderabad. From there on he moved to different places to serve the nation. My mother was a B.A (English) graduate and was teaching in Vivekanada College Muzaffarpur, Bihar when she got married to my father. She, like my grandmother, is quiet authoritative but very emotional. I have seen her in tears every time any of us kids was hurt. Maybe, that is the reason for me being so sensitive.
I have four siblings. Noopur, Navneet, Nivedita and Nalini. Being the youngest in the family, I have seen a lot of pampering by them. We all have studied in kendriya vidyalayas in various cities of the country depending on where our father was posted. All my siblings are married.
I feel blessed to be a part of this family. My father has never stopped anyone from chasing their dreams, not even my mother. My mom, after completing her post-graduation, got appointed as an English lecturer at one of the colleges of BHU. She had a word with my father about this and I clearly remember my father saying, “go where your heart is. I don’t want you to regret anything later on.” After a month or so of my mother leaving for Varansi there was a knock at the door. When my brother answered the door, he saw our mother standing at the door steps. She, after all, did come to where her heart was.
This incident is fresh in my memory still, though I must have been just 8 years old then. It reminds me of how strong our bonds are. That no matter what I do in my life, weather I fail or succeed, my family will love me unconditionally. – NAMRATA SRIVASTAVA