Marguerite Mumford from the Nilgiri Hills
I will never be sure if my grandpa wanted myself or anyone else to find these negatives; They were his secret for all of his adult life, never knowing what he should do with them but realising he could never just throw them away.
He had, after all kept them very safe, quite hidden from the moment he left India. Can you imagine having to leave your whole life behind you? Your country of birth, your freinds your family and your home. What would you choose to take with you if you were ever put in that position. Could you leave everything behind that you had ever known?
I think you would choose to take your memories with you rather than the material house hold items that all of us accumulate along the way. My grandpa must have done just that. He left India with his family and their belongings in just a few metal trunks and inside one of those trunks must have been the pocket-sized blue negative holder that I came across in my grandparent’s cupboard in 2006 a few years after my grandpa had died.
That little blue pocket-book held as many memories as it did negatives, about one hundred precious moments of reflected light captured on film of the loved ones that my grandpa could not through away. There are photographs of our family and of some of the places that they had lived but Inside one of the folded grease proof sleeves were four negatives that were cut up into a single frames and they were of the same young lady.
That young lady was called Marguerite Mumford and she was the love of grandpa’s life long before he ever met my grandmother. Grandpa must have met Marguerite Mumford in the Nilgiri’s, in the Hill station of Ooty where Marguerite grew up and went to school at Lovedale. My great-grandfather also had a house in Ooty and it would have been when my grandpa was at college in Canoor just after his schooling at Bishop Cottons whilst he was visiting his father that the couple first met.
Perhaps, college sweethearts; They kept their relationship going from their first meeting in the south India Hills in the cool climate of the Deccan Plato to the humid coastal city of Bombay where my grandpa worked for the Times of India. I know from the amount of photographs that I have found that the couple took days out to Juhu beach and the hanging gardens on Malabar hill along with trips out to the Ghats outside of Bombay. What is most obvious is how much my grandpa thought of Margurite and how he kept the negatives separate from all of the others that he saved.
The memories held on the films of Margurite seem different to the rest, they seem more personal.