Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going down memory lane with "Tata".-Sir Alladi.

I feel delighted to write my personal experiences with my great, eminent and legendary grandfather—‘tata’—as we used to call him. As we grow old, the sweet memories of our childhood enable us to relive the past. It was a privilege that my sister Rama and I along with our parents, stayed close to the great mansion, Ekambara Nivas, our family home. We got the opportunity to spend considerable time with our grand parents—Avva and Tata. As long as our grandfather was alive, we thought of Ekambara Nivas as our home. Our childhood was glorious. Tata, inspite of being a legal luminary who surpassed all other stalwarts in the field took interest in our personal problems.

I can never forget one very important incident in my school life. I was around 10 or 11 years old. I had always been a timid and nervous child. I think I was in the 5th or 6th class in St.Thomas Convent, Mylapore Madras—which was a Catholic convent-- at that time. We used to have Moral Science in the first period everyday and our lessons revolved around God. It was imprinted in our minds that sinners would go to hell after death. Day after day, the sermons would go on and the idea of ‘death’ instilled in me a fear that got worse with each day. I used to come home and complain to my mother and cry. My mother mentioned this to my grandfather. The very next day, my grandfather was at my school in his Buick car. He went to meet the Head Mistress just before the morning assembly began. He met Mother Superior—her name was Mother Dismiss and told her “ My grand daughter Chitra will not attend Moral Science classs from now onwards…” Mother Superior agreed immediately. I now don’t recall whether ‘tata’ was at that time the Advocate General but there wasn’t any protest to what he said. Every day since that day, while the rest of the class had Moral Science I would sit outside, near the statue of Mother Mary and enter the class only after the Moral Science period was over. I have always been very nostalgic about this incident because ‘tata’ who was such a busy man was sensitive to that fear of mine—I was at an age when one generally tends to believe what one is told, especially on matters such as death and hell and the like. Rationality comes later on in life.

Tata' s gesture shows how much he loved and cared for each one of us. I am proud to be his grand daughter. I often fondly recall my childhood, the best years of my life, at Ekambara Nivas in the presence of my grand father. There are many more personal experiences that crowd my memory when I think of those golden years of our lives in our tata’s house. I savour each one of them.

Chitra Gopalakrishnan

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