This is my mother-in-law, Roshan Mirza as she was then, in her twenties. She was born a Parsi in Bangalore, where her father Nosherwan Mirza was a High Court Judge. He was murdered by someone he had sent down, when Roshan was in her teens. By then Nosherwan was separated from his second wife, Tehminabai, my mother-in-law's mother.
After studying for a degree in English Literature (English was her first language) at Madras University, Roshan came to Oxford to read English at what is now St. Anne's. She met her future, English husband, the drama critic John Barber, when they were holding opposite ends of a banner at a demo for Indian Independence.
John Barber was a Conscientious Objector in WW2 and drove an ambulance in the London Blitz; they were bombed out three times. Roshan was a Civil Servant during the war and had her first child, my husband, in 1946, followed by his sister a year later.
The marriage didn't last but Roshan, now known as Jenny Barber, remained in England, returning only once to the country of her birth. I met several visiting members of the Indian family, who were always intrigued by the fact that I - the only family member with no Indian blood - was the vegetarian.
Jenny retrained as a teacher of English in Further Education (as a single mother she felt she had enough children at home).
I was thinking a lot about her recently, because we visited her grave on the same day as Baroness Thatcher's funeral. This is what the headstone in Highgate Cemetery looked like this week:
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the death of a woman who began life in the year the Titanic went down, as an Indian Parsi called Roshan and ended it in 1994 as, effectively, an English Christian, called Jenny. She lived through two World Wars - one of them right in the thick of it. As well as her two children, she left five splendid granddaughters (each time one of them was born she got letters of commiseration from relatives in Bangalore but I think she treasured each one of those girls). She lived with us for sixteen years and told our three daughters stories about her childhood that we had never heard - the monkey who stole her banana, the aunt who had a pet panther...
It got me thinking of how each individual's life becomes a part of history, affected by events on the wider scene as well as the incidents of their personal lives. And in so many families there are people who have completely changed identities in the course of their time on this earth.
Do any of you have similar stories to tell?