Aussie woman in M’lore in search of mother’s grave

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Agnes Fernandes from AustraliaMangalore, August 7, 2013: She is firm and at least wants to see her mother’s grave and pay her respects. Agnes Fernandes from Australia, who was born in Mangalore and was given for adoption, had made a futile attempt to meet her biological mother in 1969.

Now again, after 44 years, the 82-year-old Agnes who has never seen her mother has come all the way from Perth in the hope of getting to know something about mother and perhaps see her grave. Accompanied by her daughter Persine, the octogenarian arrived Mangalore in July and from then has visited many churches and houses in search of clues.

Revealing her story to Deccan Herald, Agnes said she was a premature baby born in Mangalore in 1931 and a Tamil Christian couple from Puducherry with the surname Nathan adopted her through Antony’s Charitable Institutions in Mangalore.

Agnes could not walk for the first three years of her life but thanks to the Nathan family, who took extra care and gave her medication, she was up on her feet. The Nathan couple later moved to Singapore, where Agnes was brought up.

Agnes fell in love with a Punjabi Sikh, Rameshvar Singh, in Singapore and married him. Agnes and Rameshvar later migrated with their six daughters to Australia. However, the urge to know about her biological mother always haunted Agnes.

First attempt

In 1969, Agnes, her husband and their youngest daughter Donette, came to Mangalore to find her mother. “I met an elderly nun serving in St Antony’s Charitable Institutions and aware of my mother’s identity. She told me that my mother was working as a domestic help at a headmaster’s house probably in Jeppu and looking after his children,” she said, adding that the nun managed to contact her mother, who agreed to meet Agnes. However, Agnes’ mother changed her mind at the last minute.

“I was disappointed, but I do not blame her. She had not seen me for 38 years and may have been emotionally overwhelmed. I can understand a mother’s pain, as I have six daughters,” said an emotional Agnes.

Baptism certificate

“I managed to get my certificate of baptism on Monday and for the first time, I learnt that my mother’s name is Monthi Fernandes. My father’s name is not written in the birth certificate, but, I have a godmother named Santana Souza. I was born on January 20, 1931, and was baptised on February 6, 1931,” said Agnes. She added that she had visited different churches in Mangalore, hoping for information or to find her mother’s grave. “I am 82, but I am still my mother’s child. I want to know who she was and what she looked like. I do not think she will be alive, as she may be over 100.”

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