Vaman Rao’s Memoirs: Part-V

(….Contd) I was married when I was 23. Several matches came, which I did not entertain for some reason or the other. It was Sri K.S. Bhushan Rao Indian Express Agent (Dr. K.L. Rao’s nephew) also Swatantra whom Khasa told to look for a suitable bridegroom for his daughter. The former told me about it. Though I was in The Hindu I had no opportunity to go to Madras. It so happened I had to leave my sister-in-law in Madras for delivery. I visited The Hindu office where I met Sri V.K. Narasimhan, Assistant Editor who had come to cover events after the Police Action and came with the troops. He was Khasa’s friend who dropped me at his house. It was a simple unorthodox affair. He pressed the bell and then the bride slowly glided onto her favourite sofa of Khasa. He said: “This is my daughter. You cannot see more than this…” Thus my marriage took place with Bhavani, a gentle handsome girl on February 23, 1951, at the sacred Tirupathi. 

Bhavani was fond of reading novels by Sarat Chandra Chatterji, Bankim Chandra Chatterji, and others. She was fond of seeing Telugu pictures. I had a daughter Malathi in March 1952 in Madras. Bhavani reared  Malathi for four years.

To make the story short, the sad part is my wife Bhavani passed away on June 4, 1956, giving birth to a boy Siddhartha in childbirth, which stunned us. He was brought up for a year by Susheela, Bhavani’s sister, one and a half years younger than her. To make matters easy, Khasa offered her to me and I agreed. The wedding was held in Tirupathi on June 2, 1957.

Susheela was a graduate of Madras University, an accomplished lady with a literary bent of mind, and a good reader of books. She drew well the figures of Gods, which we printed in the New Swatantra Times. She looked after the house well. She taught in Rosary Convent and also Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan. She took charge of the education of two children. Siddhartha, as he was called Babu was with grandparents till he was 5. Khasa, the grandfather was fond of him. Only after his death on June 16, 1961, he was brought to Hyderabad along with his grandmother Khasa Narayani. Madras Babu who lived in Kalki Compound (Residence of Sri T. Sadasivam and M.S. Subbalakshmi) was exposed to VIPs. He once asked why he is called Rajaji and “I am Babuji”. Earlier he was known as Babu. He was brought up in a rather luxurious way having early education in a convent, going to school by car.

Khasa came to Hyderabad once in 1952 in connection with a Journalist Conference along with his friend Sri N. Raghunatha Iyer and delivered Shoebullah Khan Memorial Lecture; and later for English Language Convention along with Rajaji. Then he brought along with him 2-year-old Siddhartha whom his would-be father-in-law first saw him. Rajaji came again for the Swantantra Party in 1961-62 when he called at our house to see Mrs. Khasa.

Malathi studied at Children’s Garden School in Madras for a year, then Rosary Convent in Hyderabad, later Women’s College (B.Sc), and Osmania Law College where she did her LLB standing second in the University. She is happily married to Sri NN Dharmarajan, a bright Engineer who migrated to the USA and has done well in life. She has two sons Ram and Vijay. The latter undertook an MBBS Course in Gulbarga, Karnataka with whom I came close.

My son Siddhartha after his B.Com took a diploma in journalism from Bhawan’s College and joined Indian Express. He went to Madras thanks to Dr. M.S. Rajajee IAS (Retd) my good and close friend and aimed at IAS. He and his wife Sarala liked him. They used to jointly see dog shows and were interested in kennel clubs. But he later joined a Travel Agency in Hyderabad and made a name in this field. He was also connected with the Tourism Board. He is affectionate and maintains good PR. He and Krishna are close to each other. 

Sundari, Khasa’s youngest daughter (They are in all 3), is a charming girl who was 13 when I got married. She was happily married to Sri K. Ramachandra Rao who was in FCI and has a son Krishna and two daughters Padma and Sudha. 

We have a record of inter-linguistic marriages even in my father’s generation and his children too. My son-in-law Dharmarajan is a Tamil, Palghat Iyer and my daughter-in-law Viraja is a Kannadiga. My grandson Rahul (Siddhartha’s son) a software engineer married Meghana a Gujarati. My daughter’s son Ram is wedded to Anamika a Rajasthani girl.

My granddaughter, Divya Bhavani, (Siddhartha’s daughter) a software engineer in the USA married Sri Joga Rao, also a software engineer from Kakinada. 

We had connections with Marathi and Kannada girls also. My brother’s son married a girl from Coorg. His three sons married a Bengali, a Punjabi and a Muslim. My eldest brother’ son Lt Col P. Dattatreya’s son married a Malayalee from Cochin.

Most of our marriages were to known families and the boy liked the girl. My son-in-law’s cousin was Sri SR Ramamurthi, IAS (Retd.) ex-Chief Secretary AP Government. His wife Lakshmi, an embodiment of beauty and a dancer was known to my wife (Susheela) in Ethiraj College, and her husband was known to me as a journalist and later as a colleague in the Government.

Having resigned as a teacher in Bhavan’s School promotionally, Susheela, my wife when her daughter came from the USA never looked back on service. She only thought of public service. On the persuasion of Smt Durgabai Deshmukh, her mother’s cousin, she did her B.Ed from Andhra Mahila Sabha attending classes in her 40th year. She got an I Class from Osmania University.

Sri G.P. Birla thought of opening free primary schools on the premises placed at our disposal by the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad in seven localities including Panjagutta near our house. Knowing her background and spirit of service, he asked her to look after all the schools. There were 30 teachers and 1000 students. I used to lend my car to visit the schools. She had a good hold on schools and teachers. But, as the Trusts began to reduce the grants, I told Sri Birla “Babu, I think we better close the schools rather than run on truncated grants”. He agreed and we managed to close the schools, though there was local resentment, naturally. They ran for eight years. But my wife told me she had run so many schools for such a long time, that she would like to have one school that is the nearby one. I said “Where is the money?” A good friend Rajasree gave me Rs.25,000/- Then came a bounty from heaven of ten thousand dollars from Mythili Kumar, a dancer in the USA who ran a dance company, her father was a close friend of mine Sri K R Aiyer, IA&AS, which my wife was hesitant to accept. Then a doctor from the USA, a family friend Padmanabhan gave five thousand dollars. We started with a sizeable F.D. My wife Susheela was devoted to children’s education. Almost till her death on December 15, 2007, she nursed and looked after the school like a child. Teachers loved her and students too, as she taught them, visiting the school daily despite her domestic chores. She lived in the school and the school lived in her. Therefore, in the unanimous opinion, the school is named Susheela Memorial Rishi UBR Vidya Mandir. The education is free with a free supply of books, uniforms, notebooks, and no fees. The school is a felt need for the adjacent slum children who will go without education but for the school (LKG to Class IV). Adjacent to it is a temple Sri Shirdi Sai Baba which we built. The school is housed in the Corporation premises to run the school.

My nephew Krishna married Meera, daughter of Parvati, a classmate of his mother Sundari is attached to me as he lived in our house for 4 or 5 years for his education. It was he who used to accompany me on my long morning walks. Parvati was an affectionate lady and bestowed high regard on me. Meera, an LLM, an enterprising lady is resourceful and a go-getter. They have 2 children Pranay, an Engineering student, and Sneha, studying in a college. Krishna has done well in life taking up contracts.

Padma who is Secretary to Director of B.M. Birla Planetarium married Satyanarayana a grand nephew of Gora Sastry who was Editor of Khasa’s Telugu Swatantra and an accomplished journalist. Sudha’s husband Ravi is the son of a niece (Indira) of the world philosopher, Sri Jiddu Krishnamurthy. (to be concluded)