Clans aren’t much in vogue these days, but ours is still going strong – the P.G. D’Souza’s, known as the ‘ cheaper by the dozen’ family because of their 17 children. Peter and Rose, my grandparents, are no more, but lived to the ripe old ages of 83 and 96 respectively. They loved to have their progeny around them, and till today the close family ties they forged continue among the surviving four generations.
My mother, Tilly, their eldest, passed away a decade ago aged 86. Since then some more of her siblings have passed on too, leaving the present number alive at 7. The youngest is in her 70s’ I rank 21 in the hierarchy of 64 grandchildren and have 50 living first cousins, all of whom I know pretty well. That’s apart from about two dozen first cousins on my paternal side! A couple of my sisters are older than my youngest aunt and a few of my nephews and nieces are older than my first cousins. Yet no generation gap exists in this family. There just cannot be one, as all generations overlap in terms of age.
Three generations have crossed the borders of community, religion and nationality through their marriages to Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Dutch, French, Danish, American and Vietnamese, to name a few! Perhaps the ‘Beijing Olympics’ will bring a Chinese into the clan……The fourth generation therefore has a mix of blood that even the United Nations would be proud to endorse! But for all family members, their roots are still alive at Oorgaum House on Vittal Malya Road – the ancestral site where a number of the family still live at P.G. D’Souza Layout.
The clan now spread across the world, numbers nearly 300 at present, with about 70 of us resident in Bangalore. A family celebration is a mega event with D’Souzas’ and more D’Souzas’ floating around – though some are called by other names through marriage. And out-of-town relatives, even those abroad, keep in touch and strengthen the bonds, through ‘home’ visits and interaction on the clan website. Their spouses, too, from whatever different backgrounds they may be, have blended in and have become part of the close-knit culture of our clan.Perhaps it’s because as an initiation rite they have to learn the ‘Litany of the 17’ – Tilly, Sunny, Gerry, Mary, Bullu, Tittu, Irene, Otty, Xavy, Gussie, Tony, Joey, Alphy, Corinne, Noel, Louise, Blanche!!