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A Family Tale

Nishat Manzar

By Meherafroze Mirza Habib
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2005, pp. 181, Rs. 495.00


The book under review is the first by the author and contains the history of an aristocratic family of Sindh ( or rather two) which happens to be the history of the author’s own ancestors. Based on the documents, saved diligently by the family since the nineteenth century, the book is about the two families of Tando Thoro in Sindh tracing their roots to modern Georgia (then Gurjistan). It is divided into 24 short chapters excluding a preface, conclusion and five appendices. Four maps of Asia ( Central Asia, Persia, and western India) along with the genealogy of the  ancestors of  Meherafroze Mirza Habib are also attached.   The story begins with the breakup of big empires in Central Asia and Iran, and Russia as an emerging power in the region. Situated between the Caspian and Black Sea, semi-independent territory of Gurjistan / Georgia became the bone of contention between Russia and Persia. Rulers of Georgia were rather inclined towards Russian Tsarina Catherine and her successors. It was during the time of Mohammed Khan Qajar of Persia that the ruler of Georgia Erekle II of Kartli- Khetri house was defeated in Tiflis in 1795, and forced many a families to take shelter in nearby mountains. Some of them fell into the hands of Persians, who either distributed them among themselves or sold them as slaves. One seven year old Mirza Khusro, whose father Alkander Khan had served Erekle as a noble, was adopted by the Persian commander Mohammed Ibrahim Khan who brought him up as his own child in Tehran. Later Khusro was sent  to the Vizir of  Shiraz (who happened to be a relative of Ibrahim Khan)  after the death of  Ibrahim Khan.   In 1805, an envoy Syed Mohammed Ismail of the Mir Karam Ali Khan  of Sindh was in Shiraz to condole the death of Mohammed Khan Qajar. He asked the Vizir to send Khusro along with him to the court of Karam Ali Khan since the latter did not have a male child. After much deliberation, he was allowed to go to Hyderabad Sindh.   In 1803-4, Russians captured Georgia. In 1820’s, during the ongoing rivalry between Persia and Georgia-Russia combined, a neighbouring governor Manochehr was captured by Persians along with his wife and two sons. Manochehr fled along with a son leaving behind his wife and another son Sydney later named as Fareedun. He was adopted by a Persian noble Syed Murtaza Shah. ...

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