the plague of 1896 & mango pickles

Gujarati mango pickles | conifères & feuillus

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

A bubonic plague pandemic came to India in 1896 via rats on cargo ships from China. Over the next thirty years, India would lose 12.5 million people to this disease. Initially, it was confined to port cities but eventually, it spread to rural regions of the country as well. [1]

By the time the pandemic reached my ancestral village in Gujarat, my paternal grandfather was but a newborn. This meant that he had minimal resistance and the least possibility of survival if infected. But parents will do whatever possible to ensure the safety of  their children and so, as difficult as it may have been, arrangements were made by my great-grandparents to have him taken away to live temporarily with relatives living further away until the threat would pass. But things didn’t turn out quite as planned and what was meant to be temporary became permanent. Soon after he was taken away, his entire family fell victim to this deadly disease.

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