Sherbanu Mohamedali Rahemtulla
In 1923, at the age of sixteen, our father married his cousin, Sherbanubai Lalji Rawji, from Jinja. He knew and liked her very much from a very young age and had promised himself that he would only marry her. Their parents had mutually given their blessings for the marriage, and they got married. Our mother took after our father's name as Sherbanubai Mohamedali Rahemtulla, which is quite common amongst Indians. After marriage, when our mother came home, our grandmother realized that she was young and she had a lot to learn. She taught our mother how to cook especially her unique Indian Cuisines. She also taught her Ayurveda Medicine which was also her expertise. They both generated extra income whilst practicing Ayurveda Medicine too. Father would customarily buy gold jewellery sets for our mother from his business trips to Kampala, Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar which he made frequently every month. He always gave our mother extra cash for her own use which she kept safely in the Godhrej cupboard along with her jewelleries and other important items. Her mother-in-law had wisely advised her that she should start saving the cash and keep the jewelleries along with the extra cash they used make from sale of Ayurveda Medicine, in case of inevitable financial emergencies; keen foresight on her part. Our mother took good care of our grandparents and especially our father's younger brother, Rajabali until he got married. Our grandfather encouraged our father to buy a car of his own. His very first car was ordered from their friends who were in the automobile dealership business in Kampala.
Venturing into a speculative Real Estate business enterprise was his next goal. Our father invested in another two properties. One was a big house which was a few houses down the road where our parents had moved to at our grandparent's request. The other property was directly next to our Mosque in the town, in the proximity of, what is now, the Iconic Mbale Tower.
As time passed, our mother also started helping our father in his business. As the business started doing very well, they purchased further two retail shops in Magimasa which was a small town situated 11 miles from Mbale, and the other retail shop in Tororo (33miles) which was also in the vicinity of Mbale. After his brother, Rajabali Rahemtulla our uncle, got married he asked for a separate and independent business in his own name. Our grandfather and our father mutually agreed and gave him the other shop completely stocked up with goods and with the living accommodation behind the shop in the same building next to theirs. Our grandfather signed one half of the deed in his son Rajabali's name and the other half in our father's name, which our father later transferred it into our mother's name.
In 1929, our parents were so overwhelmed and excited when they were blessed by their firstborn girl. That was the happiest day for them. Our grandfather named her Sakinabanu (Sakubai). She was an apple of her parents' eyes and Godsend blessing and a gift for them. They had always said that it was the best day in their life. ...
Little did our father know that prior to his taking the trip to Belgian Congo that his business partner had devised a strategy to bamboozle and deceive him thus leaving him high and dry; and taken to the cleaners, so to speak. Whilst our father was still in Belgian Congo, the business partner immorally cancelled the import and export consignments. Then he sold all the goods in the godown (warehouse) and kept the cash. Next, he completed the payments owed collections from all the Retails Shops, the Transport Business and the Ginneries which he liquidated into cash. He then fired Juma, the Transport Manager and all the drivers, and laid off all the workers at all the ginneries. He sold the lorries and pickup vans and also kept the money. Finally, he completely drained the Business Bank Account. In short, his business partner liquidated the complete arrays of his business into cash. Despite being entrusted to take care of the business in his absence, after having liquidated everything into cash, our father's Business Partner embezzled him and absconded out of the country. This was an Act of indisputably involving deception, embezzlement, fraudulence and extortion of the highest level deemed and considered most unpardonable.
On his return from the trip to Belgian Congo, our father found himself in a precarious and catastrophic situation as he discovered the reality of the embezzlement by his business partner who had liquidated all his assets into cash and had absconded out of the country, and nobody knew of his whereabouts. This unleashed serious frustrations, emotions, anxiety and had adversely impacted our father’s health; as a result, he suffered a heart attack and was immediately hospitalized. He was kept under the expert care of the heart specialist doctor Suriakant Patel, who was also a close friend of our father. The doctor informed our mother that our father had a heart attack and had to be kept under close observations for a couple of weeks before he could be released from the hospital. Needless to say, our parents always had a beautiful relationship and an amazingly envious understanding.
Our mother was with him at all times assuring him that he had nothing to worry about as she had saved enough money along with all the gold jewelleries she had, which was kept in the Godhrej cupboard they had; emphasizing that they were kept in a safe place. She reminded our father about the cash and jewelleries he used to give her every month. Our father had always given our mother a good amount of cash in case anything happened in the unforeseeable future. Our parents were only left with the original shop along with the accommodation behind the shop which was, in hindsight, so thoughtful of our father to have transferred it into our mother’s name.
As soon as our father came home from the hospital, our mother became very strict on him; that he would take ample rest and recuperate, as his health was more important. She emphasized that he would not think, brood or dwell over what had happened, as life had to go on. From that day on, our mother took full charge and control of finance in supporting our family. She had been practicing Ayurvedic Medicine, the oldest healing science technique by using herbs to treat mainly women, children and adults with jaundice too for so many years with her mother-in-law, of which she had acquired a pretty good knowledge of and she had been generating extra income from it for the family. His friends visited him at home to give him their moral support. Within three months, thanks to our mother for her incredible and top-notch care for our father that he had recuperated well and returned to a normal state of health, mind, and strength.
Our parents never held back anything from their siblings who were the most important people in their life; – the pride and joy of their life.