Fatima Shaik's grandfather's ancestry was a positive for her family who lived under the sting of racism and segregation in New Orleans.
Her family was told they were unworthy and ignorant. But they held onto the memories of Shaik Mohamed Musa, whose family owned land in India, who traveled across the world to come to America, who started a business.
With a father like that, her grandmother encouraged her dad, he could achieve anything.
"My father spoke of his father all his life." Shaik said. "He always spoke about how important India was to him."
Musa left behind a hookah from India, a few papers and jewelry, including a diamond stickpin. Hurricane Katrina washed away much of Shaik's grandfather's belongings. Her father died the following year.
Shaik began searching, "in earnest," she wrote on the Bengali Harlem website, "as one suddenly does after realizing just how much is gone."
She is excited about her journey to Kolkata, specifically to Hooghly, across the Ganges River, to the place from where her grandfather and many of the early "exotic" goods peddlers hailed. Director Kavery Kaul plans to document Shaik's trip in March for an upcoming film, "Streetcar to Calcutta."
"The story of Fatima's grandfather, Shaik Mohamed Musa, belongs to all of us," Kaul said from Kolkata. "It's the history of the Indian diaspora and the making of America, the story of long overlooked links between cultures that looks to the past as it points us ahead to the future of our global society.
"The project takes me back to Kolkata where I was born and it leads Fatima on a journey in search of the name she bears." Kaul said. "Entering a world so different, so far from home, is sure to give her another sense of belonging."
In some ways Shaik feels it will be a journey guided by spirits. She will be taking her grandfather and father to India -- the home that one knew and the other always dreamed of knowing.