This is my Great Grandfather, Captain Anthony Philip Rodrigues.
He died before I was born so I never met him, but my dad was very proud of him and told us many stories about him.
My great grandfather together with his two older sisters, were orphaned as young teens when both his parents succumbed to what was known as the great Indian plague in 1861.
He and his sisters were brought up by an uncle and he worked hard at school, was awarded a scholarship which then led him to study medicine at Bombay University where he graduated as a Doctor.
He joined the British Army as a Surgeon Doctor of the Royal Army Medical Core, Calvary Division.
During an encounter in North Africa, his regiment were surrounded by the enemy. With no food or fresh water, they were forced to eat meat from the horses killed in battle and contaminated water from the River Nile.
Everyone got sick with a parasitic disease as a result and my great grandfather was one of three survivors from that encounter. An English doctor who had examined him gave him 6 months to live, so he was discharged from the army.
To the astonishment of the medics, he made a full recovery within a year and was able to report back for active service, re-joining the army, when he was promoted to Captain.
During his military travels he came across some land, rich in manganese ore. After retiring from the army, he bought the land and set up a successful business supplying manganese ore to Krupps, the German steel company.
He eventually settled with his wife and children in Karachi (now Pakistan) where he built a huge house with 4 self-contained apartments for his adult children and their young families.
He was very well regarded in the community and quite affluent. A cousin of my dad’s recalled that family and friends in Goa came to stay to help ‘dispose’ of the sacks of money kept in the house.
He never stopped ‘working’ as even after selling the mining business, he continued practicing as a doctor until a year before he died aged 92.
I admire his tenacity and ability to spot opportunities despite adversity.
The great Indian plague must have been as devastating and life-changing as we see today with events from the last 18 months or so.
Yet, he took advantage of the opportunities presented his way – schooling paid for by his uncle, the scholarship that allowed him to continue education and get a degree and graduate as a doctor.
He also had grit and determination to survive the battle and what must have been awful conditions despite all his regiment dying around him.
He must also have enjoyed his work of fixing his patients, since he carried on doing this until aged 91.
I know that recent times have been extraordinarily tough for a lot of people. However, I also know that tough times are part of our evolution.
I see a general awareness and movement to make things better, repair our environment, improve our own well-being and relationships.
I think it’s a blessing to be witnessing and contributing (albeit in a very small way) to the changes that are evolving and I’m especially grateful that I’m able to help my visionary clients birth their life-changing ideas into real businesses.
If you’ve got a brilliant business idea that you need my help to launch and make real, then let’s talk. Set up an are we right for each other call.
The picture of my great grandfather was repaired/touched up and coloured by artist Andy Smith.