Sunday, January 27, 2019

Viriah by Krishna Gubili

This book is a story of an Indian moving to the unknown land wishing for the good fortune. VIRIAH, Krishna's great grandfather who worked as indentured labor in South Africa.

Thanks to Krishna's grandmother, who always shared a lot of stories about his grandfather and also his great grandfather. The stories ranged from their lifestyle to moral stories preaching good ethics. A lot was narrated on how they spoke African at home,  how his grandfather gave a speech in English, and people were awe of his skills. She also said that Viriah returned to India from South Africa. She talked about his great grandfather Viriah with vague details.  

While the whole world celebrates Ganesha's festival, Krishna's home mourn for the death of his grandfather. Mysterious death. Mysterious Stories. Stories with no explanations prodded Krishna to find the puzzle piece.

Krishna's stamp collection hobby made him discover a letter in Grandmother's box.

Listening to a lot of stories Grandma shared, they discovered a letter that was sent from SouthAfrica to them. Link with SouthAfrica was always the puzzle he couldn't crack. His questions to Grandmother never quenched his interest to know what his great grandfather did in South Africa. Despite heavy costs to send an international letter,  Krishna kept writing to the south African address and never got a reply but once. 

With one letter received from South Africa, serendipitous that he met his family members after 15 year ordeal. 

Viriah by Krishna Gubili.

His journey to find his great grandfather was not merely to find the roots but also the brutal history of the generation where 13 lakh Indians were shipped as indentured laborers to sugar cane plantations in British colonies to replace slaves.  After reading about Indentured labor, his passion to know his great-grandfather story became intense. 

Further, the meet with his extended family, the way he searches for his cousin, the way Librarian at Peitermaritzbburg brings the right record from the archive at the last moment. It's gripping. And quite serendiptious. His 15-year ordeal to know his roots, at last, was successful. Things fell in place and the way he found the story of his Great grandfather was an interesting one. 

This is the story that needs to be read by everyone. Most of us do not know what indentured labour means. The convenient system created by the British after the abolishment of slavery. If we think it was a past thing. We're mistaken.

Even now, the situation is the same. All the labor present in Dubai are in the same situation as Viriah were.

Krishna mentions the struggles of migrant labour working in middle east countries and also offer few suggestions to help them in kind.  He ends the book with the poem where the poet urges his beloved that they should meet elsewhere and not the Taj because it mocks the love of the poor. (Written by Ali Hussain Mir)

It's not an easy read as it troubles you. The dire situations Viriah faced were a lot of grimaces.
I'm glad Krishna wrote this book. These are the stories that are worth talking about & discussing.

Thanks for sharing this story, Krishna. Hope this story is shared in a wide manner. 

I'm glad Sunny bought this for me. Would love to gift this book to others as well. Everyone must read to know of our history and also the hardships our ancestors went through.

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