My grandfather from my Dad’s side had a tattoo of a naked woman on his arm. My grandfather from my mum’s side is a Christian convert who has a tattoo of the Lord Hanuman on his arm. My life and upbringing have been a lovely amalgamation of personalities that root from these legends of the game. Rambhai (Papa’s pops) moved to Malawi and then Zambia in the 1940s. He and my grandmother had 7 offspring that spent varying amounts of time living in India and Zambia – with Rambhai rooted in Lusaka and Vidyabhen rooted in Vadodara. Rambhai eventually left Vidyabhen and married a local Zambian woman. He moved back to Gujarat and spent his last days with her over there. I hope Pops doesn’t follow suit and leave my mum. He wouldn’t though because I think some property may be in her name. (pause for laughter/prayer). My Dad spent a considerable amount of time in Zambia and therefore we were extremely lucky to have his more liberal thought ingrained in our upbringing.

My mother was raised proper Indian style in Vadodara so we did get pieces of the belan stuck to our skin on occasion. Having to speak English with Dad and Gujarati with mum made us bilingual and more in touch with our Indian roots.
Mum converted to Hinduism after marrying my Dad but her original conversion to Christianity was always particularly intriguing to me. Hiralal Patel had to elope with Urmilabhen because she was a Christian and such behaviour was unheard of. Urmilabhen crossed over to the Gita ways of life, when 3 offspring later, Hiralal got sick. We think he might have had jaundice, and the man was certain he was going to die. He had given up all hope and had written off life. He lay on his deathbed with total acceptance, when one night, he saw a vision of His Holy Father Jesus Christ. He saw a bright white light, from which the Son of God walked out and gave him his blessings. After this, Hiralal made a miraculous recovery in a week’s time. He was rejuvenated, and the whole family converted to Christianity when my mum was 3. My family are all in Zambia, we are well settled there. I currently live in Mumbai & I am occasionally on the pursuit to find and smoke whatever the hell Hiralal was.

Anish Patel

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