A 5-month-old Stanley held high in the arms, close to the loving face of my first ayah, Marrimma. She was a family servant from the Telugu speaking region of south India.
Stanley Brush, an American boy, is born in Kharagpur India (1925)
I WAS BORN SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT on November 8th 1925, in the first floor bedroom of the American Baptist Mission bungalow in Khargpur, Bengal, India. British India, as it then was. My mother, Helen Irene Humphrey Brush, wife of the Reverend Mr. Edwin Charles Brush, was attended by a midwife, Nurse Huston-Avis. She was a medical staff member of the Bengal Nagpur Railway Hospital, an institution located just a few blocks from the American Mission.
Aside from the fact that I turned out to be a boy – my parents had been hoping for a daughter – the only unusual aspect of the newly emerged little person, I was later told, was my extremely deep-set eyes. This gave rise to a short- lived concern about whether the infant would be able to see.
The first name “Stanley” was my mother’s choice in honor of her closest college friend, Iva Stanley, at Denison University. The middle name “Elwood” was my father’s choice in honor of the Reverend Dr. Elwood Harrar, minister of the First Baptist Church of Camden, New Jersey, the clergyman who had married Dad and Mother in 1918.
These names, I might as well confess, were an embarrassment to me as a boy. They did not carry the masculine cachet of names such as William, Richard or Scott. But they have worn well and are perfectly acceptable now.
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Dad at the age of thirty-seven in 1923 – the year of his arrival with Mother and John (aged four) in India – was deemed by Mission authorities as too old to learn a new language, so he and Mother were assigned to English work in Khargpur immediately.
My opinion now is that they were severely handicapped in their ongoing encounter with Indian India by not having this initial period of intensive language study and the cultural training that goes with it. On the other hand, British India was in so many areas English speaking and Anglophilic that it was possible to live, work and form deep friendships there without mastering an Indian language. In truth, English itself had become an Indian language and remains so today.