Friday, June 30, 2017

A curiosity

My nephew found some old letters and papers lying around at my folks' place - old letters my father had sent to my mother, other correspondence from half a lifetime ago. [There were also some letters addressed to me -- two in Russian from friends in Kazakhstan (that'll be another blog post!) and letters a friend from my pre-teen years had written after she'd moved away. I'd completely forgotten about those, and had no idea I'd saved them!]

Then there was this:

It is addressed to my great-grandfather, my father's grandfather, who was, we know, a lawyer. The only address given, in fact is his title, "Vakil" (lawyer), and the name of the town. It was enough for the post office, apparently ...

It seems to be a letter detailing currency notes that were being sent from the Imperial Bank of India in Bombay to him. It also seems that several of these were being sent in halves. Upon acknowledgment of  receipt of the first  dispatch, the remaining halves would be sent on. Presumably this was a way to ensure security. I'd never heard of this, but a brief Google search revealed that this was not an unknown practice .... Of course, we have no idea what my pardada was doing receive the sum of rupees five hundred and fifty three and three annas in such an exotic manner. Rs. 553-5-0 in 1931 would be somewhere near Rs. 1,20,000 today (~1850 USD today), no small amount. (Nor, for that matter, can we figure out what this transaction is. Or why eighteen annas are to be given as postage due to the Public Debt Office ... so many questions!)

The Imperial Bank of India doesn't exist anymore. It became the State Bank of India in 1955, five years after the Republic of India came into existence.

In April, 1931, my late father was 1 year old. I had no idea he'd preserved this curious letter. I suspect  its curiosity is what motivated him to keep it, to be discovered by his grandson, four generations and eighty six years after my great grandfather received it.