The Satthianadhan Family Album edited by Eunice de Souza, is an anthology of the miscellaneous writings of the members of the Satthianadhans, a family of converts to Christianity. Krupabai Satthianadhan, is the only one of the earlier Satthianadhan who is known. But both the men and women wrote fiction and non-fiction, essays, diaries, short stories, "guide books" for women, folktales and they also edited various journals. Members of the family, now in different parts of the world, are still writing.
Many of the issues they raised in their writings continue to be of relevance - like the state of Indian society, social problems, female education, child marriage, caste, the dilemmas of the Indian Christians, the "Indianness" of the Indian Church, etc. The book is of sociological interest too as it gives us occasional glimpses of the clothes, jewellery and manners of the time. It also provides us an extraordinary vivid picture of various aspects of the community of Indian Christians - their faults, foibles, their virtues, and their relationship with their Hindu neighbours and European missionaries.
It also contains evocative descriptions of nature, particularly the Deccan region.
Eunice de Souza retired as Head of the English Department, St. Xaviers College, Mumbai. She is a poet, novelist, editor and has also written books for children.
The Satthianadhan Family Album
My interest in the Satthianadhans, a family of converts to Christianity began when 1 discovered that almost all the members of the family were writers of one sort or another. Krupabai Satthianadhan is the only one of the earlier Satthianadhans who is known, now that new editions of her novels have appeared.' But both the men and the women wrote fiction and non-fiction, essays, diaries, short stories, "guide books" for women, folktales, and translated from the Sanskrit, and other languages such as Tamil and German. They also edited various journals. Members of the family, now in different parts of the world, are still writing fiction and non-fiction. While some of the material is mainly of sociological or documentary interest, there is also some fine literary work which should be better known than it is.
Strangely, this family, whose lives and work are of both literary and historical/sociological interest, have not received the attention they deserve. In contrast, literary families such as the Dolts have received a great deal of attention. As with the Dutts (who were also Christian converts) and many other well-known figures of the time they were active in many fields in India. They also travelled to England to study, or take part in church councils, or, as in Kamala's case, to accompany her son, and were feted there. Yet, many of the books the Satthianadhans wrote are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Indian libraries tend not to answer letters. Even some of the living relatives of the family were not particularly forthcoming, insisting that their interests lay in areas other than family trees and family achievements. In one astonishing case, an "expert" in the area denied that Kamala Satthianadhan existed. He insisted that I meant Krupabai. I assured him I had read a book on Kamala and some of her work. Imagine my surprise then, when the expert suddenly started a series of articles on the Satthianadhans, Kamala included, using the information I had passed on. Eventually, the material contained in this anthology was obtained from Partnership House in London and the British Library. Dr Eleanor Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Derby kindly sent me her copy of Anna Satthianadhan's The Good Mother, an important text.
Many of the issues the Satthianadhans raise in their writing and in their lives continue to be of relevance. As Eleanor Jackson has observed, "The Satthianadhans oscillated from generation to generation between anglicisation and what they viewed as Indian tradition. In this they are a paradigm of many Indian families, Hindu and Christian." The issues they raised in various ways were the state of Indian society, social problems, female education, child marriage, caste, the dilemmas of Indian Christians and missionaries, the "Indianness" of the Church. Some of their attitudes may not find favour today, and conversion certainly continues to be a contentious issue. But Christianity was central to their lives, and we look at a writing, fictional or otherwise, most usefully when we can see it as a product of a time and place, when we concern ourselves with what particular people thought and felt at that point in time. I, for one, have no interest in conversions, though my family is a product of conversions which took place in Goa a long time ago. Nevertheless, it interests me to know how people found the courage to leave family and friends to follow an idea in which they had come to believe.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAR072 Author: Eunice De Souza Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2005 Publisher: SAHITYA AKADEMI ISBN: 97881260212277 Language: English Size: 8.30 X 5.30 inch Pages: 200 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.25 Kg