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Read an Assyrian-Indian author

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Read an Assyrian-Indian author

Aug-10-2000 at 11:56 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

And Dawn Came at Last By: Rani Chanda ISBN # 0-533-06788-X Library of Congress Catalog Card # 85-90292

Prepared by: Fred Aprim

Some mistakes may need a helping hand or may need to be ardently invited. The dedicated love and perseverance of author Rani Chanda helped to make tangible and new the love that bound her far-flung family, previously existing only in fading, disintegrating memories. Reverberations of major historical events, the Russian Revolution and World Wars I & II, rumble through this literate and moving memoir of the widespread Rasho family. Of Assyrian origin, this hardy clan had taken roots in Russia, Iraq, and Iran, only to be shaken and scattered, its fate broadcast by the winds of the 1917 Revolution. It took the author years of dedicated searching and detective work to realize her childhood dream of locating her mothers sister and brother and relatives who were separated and lost to each other while they were still very young. The saga of the Rasho family spans five generations. This is a book that lyrically evokes the India of the authors childhood and youth as a place transfused with the golden light of loving memory. Provincial Russian scenes are vividly and humorously portrayed. The authors reuniting of the globe-girdling Rashos was a triumph of humanity over the foibles of bureaucracy. Here is a parable, a message to the entire human family to reach out to one another and regroup.

The author talked about her mother and said: Mother did remember some incidents about the Revolution and World War I, and how they had suffered through it all, when most of her family and relatives had been killed, or died on the long trek to escape. How they had to gradually abandon their bags of gold, some of which they had managed to escape with, and how, ultimately, they became poor refugees, living in tents, waiting their turn to be resettled somewhere. Two incidents stood out very vividly in her memory. While they were preparing to leave their home and run, their uncle Shmoel (referred to as Shaul hereafter) made them pack loads of their gold in bags, and fasten them around their waists. Every one of them--both old and young--had to carry a load. It was very tiring to run for ones life with such heavy weights, and that too, without food and water for many hours, and even days, as the enemy was hard at their heels behind them. On the way, Shauls wife collapsed and died, and her body had to be thrown into a lake, which they happened to be passing by during that time. The second incident was that one of the neighbors had a small blind child, who had to be carried. The mother and other relations got quite tired with the weight of the child, and they could not run fast enough, and the enemies were not far off. The shots were coming closer and closer behind them, and so the poor child had to be abandoned, by hiding it in a bush. While they were all running for their lives, they could hear the anguished calls of the child, calling out to its mother, Thelo, O Thelo, where are you? It seems that my mother kept constantly hearing that voice in her sleep long after the incident, for years.

Here is another interesting passage from the book mentioning a very familiar site to many Assyrians. In the following, Rani, the author, is trying to find her Uncles, Nicolai, address that her sister has taken with her to England. Her mother had separated from her brother Nico (Nicolai) and her older sister Rapka (Raisa) during World War I. Rani learned about the whereabouts of her uncle Nico through an Armenian friend, because Nico was married to an Armenian woman, Azo, the author wrote: My sister was gone, and with her the address of Nicolai! My husband and I had to fly to England to attend the last rites, and amongst her few dear things that I brought back with me was her address book. Most of her material belongings I donated to the hospital in England. I found the page that I was looking for so frantically, in her address book. Nicos name and address stared mockingly at me, from those pages. Yes, mockingly, because it was the address of a temporary camp in Baghdad - the Gilani Camp!

Rani, arranged a trip to Baghdad to meet her uncle Nico, and she did. Later, she took her uncle Nico and his wife Azo and returned with them to India so Nico can meet his lost sister (Ranis mother). Rani wrote describing the meeting: There was a lot to talk about, and much to discuss and plan. The one big drawback was that my mother had forgotten her mother tongue, Assyrian, and Nico knew very little of English. It was his wife, Azo, who knew a bit more, and with a little bit of English, feet, hands, and dumb charades, we managed to understand each other. Blood needs no language! That was the first time that we realized that our mother was an Assyrian! That was Miracle Number One.

Next, Rani, finally, got in touch with aunt Rapka (her mothers older sister) in Donetsk, Russia. In 1977, she traveled to meet her cousins there, she returned to Berlin and began to arrange for a meeting in Baghdad to gather the brother Nico and the two sisters. Iraqi Government though refused to allow Rapka, a Russian citizen now, to enter Iraq. When trying to arrange a meeting in Russia, the Russians refused to admit Nico to the country for the visit. In addition, efforts to gather the family in India failed because of red-tape opposition, as the author put it. Finally, it was decided to get the two sisters together in Russia. After a long process and the involvement of many governmental departments, Ranis mother, now around 80 years old arrived in Donetsk, via Moscow end of April 1980. It seemed, Rani describing the meeting at the local airport, as if the world had stood still, that the globe had forgotten to rotate on its axis that day, when the two sisters met and flew into each others arms, sobbing and shaking in all their limbs. Theirs was a meeting after approximately 73 long years! This was Miracle Number Two.

Here, the author wrote, my missionthat childhood undertakingwas fulfilled to some extent. My mother met her big sister, and her little brother, but Rapka and Nico (living now in Chicago) have yet to meet. Would it be asking too much from the Cosmic Chief for Miracle Number Three?

As Rani wanted to write her book, she needed more information. She flew to Chicago in order to meet the rest of the big family. She had the good luck of meeting the oldest living member of the clan, Isaac Rasho, an uncle of her mother, who was fondly referred to as mama gora (the old uncle). Isaac Rasho was the grandson of Rasho II, who was the first Malik of Gangachin. Mama gora died in the spring of 1980, he was officially granted 119 years of age by the U.S. Government. The author wrote describing mama gora: I must add that his mental state was in perfect condition, his health was fantastic, his diet balanced, and he never forgot to have his yogurt and white wine, and his daily walk. Invariably, all the family gathered in the evenings, or during holidays, and discussed various subjects and events, and mama gora narrated the Assyrian history to the younger generations.

As part of keeping the family in contact, Rani, located the Shauls family in Tehran and sent them a letter. On April 3, 1981, she received a letter from Shauls youngest son Pierre. Shaul had died in 1976 after he had moved from Baghdad to Genezar, Iran. Shaul had five sonsIzariafrom his first wifeYoushia, Alexander, John, and Pierre, and a daughter Lucyall from Shauls second wife.

The final two chapters are dedicated to the Assyrians and their history, ancient and most recent. The author spoke about the circumstances of the first meeting of her parents. Bidyuth Kanta Shahmal, the 22 years old Indian soldier and contingent of the British Army in Baghdad, as India was then the British Crown Colony, and Shushember (Shusho) Rasho, the 18 years young Assyrian nurses aid. They met in the Red Cross hospital in Baghdad where Shusho worked and Bidyuth checked in seeking care from an illness. She described how they got married, their voyage to India, and the adjustments her mother had to make in her new home. The book, at the end, contains a detailed Family Tree of the Rashos, who live in the USA, England, Russia, Iran, Australia, Iraq, and in India.

About the author of the book

A November Sagitarian, Rani Chanda was born in Patna, India. She is of Indian and Assyrian descent. As cypher assistant to her father, the Under Secretary of the Home Department of the government of Orissa, she was the first woman to join the Orissa Secretariate. She left to become one of the first English Highlights Announcers of All India Radio. Later she gatecrashed into the film worlds of Bengal and Bombay and achieved another first, as the first Orissan to act on the silver screen. In 1960 she met and married a German engineer and took up residency in West Germany. Her son, Ricardo, studies at the Free University of Berlin. Rani Chanda works as a translator-cum-follow-up in Berlin. She often appears onstage, singing and dancing into the hearts of her audiences without remuneration. She is also a composer of songs and poems.


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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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