My Friday Post: My Family Tree

Growing up I did not really care for knowing my family history. My time was better-spent playing video games and basketball. Besides, my family was whomever we visited during summer break.

All that changed when both my grandmothers passed away in my twenties. I realized that the people we surround ourselves with would not be around forever. Time as they say is fleeting. I wanted to understand my family – both my father’s side and mother’s side. Who are we? Where did we come from? What is our family history?

I began to ask questions. Starting with my parents, they were able to give me information but only to a certain point in time.  My family is quite large but over the years we have spread out over the world and lost track of each other.

I started to document names and dates in a spreadsheet which evolved into a makeshift family tree. I began to ask questions from other older uncles and aunts to help fill in the blanks but there were still large gaps.

I am an American born son of Trinidadian parents with Hindu ancestors. In tracing my history back, I discovered that my family was brought over to Caribbean during the Indian indenture system. This system was to replace the slavery system that was abolished in the 1800s but suffered from similar abuses.

During this time, my family’s name was changed, why is not clear. That information is lost. It became difficult to know exactly where in India we were from. The best guess was that we came from either Calcutta or Bengal in the mid to late 1800’s. It is not clear if we still had family over in India.

In my research, I realized that while it was nice to know where we came from, it was not important at the end of day. Family is who you make them to be. Whether they are your in-laws, distant relatives, or friends. The people that support you are your family.

Further reading:

  1. Indian Indenture System by Wikipedia
  2. The Indian in Trinidad and Tobago Society: Fact, Fiction and the Continuing Dilemma by Bhoendradatt Tewarie
  3. NRI, or some called East Indians in Trinidad
  4. Chinese and Indians share common history by Dr. Kumar Mahabir
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