My brother had a clear picture before him of what I should achieve in my life. Denied himself of the opportunity to go for higher studies, he had made it a point to ensure that the same was not denied to me. The fact that I was good in studies egged him on further. He was very particular that I should come up in my life as a highly qualified person. He had a target of making me a city boy who could speak fluent English. For that he first wanted me to speak pure Kannada that was being spoken only in cities. He had observed educated boys speaking such a language. This was quite in contrast to the rural and colloquial Kannada spoken by us as unexposed boys.
My journey towards this end began on the day my brother took me along with him to my sister’s house in the place called Hokkalike. He had already brought for me all the textbooks for sixth standard. He had specially brought an old Film Fare magazine from his close friend. The same was not meant for reading! The special quality paper from the magazine was used for binding all my textbooks! My English text was covered with a photo of Raj kapoor and the Kannada text by Madhubala! Other books had Dilip Kumar, Mehmood and so on!
But the most important need for me was clothing. I hardly had two sets of dresses which could be used only for daily wear. On our way, we went to a textile shop in Koppa. We purchased cloth for two sets of dresses and went to the tailoring shop of Seshagiri. He was a very famous tailor in Koppa in those days. But he was not famous for his stitching skills! Rather he was notorious for the delay in delivering the stitched dresses! There were times when the dresses given for stitching in Gokulashtami were delivered in Mahashivaratri!
Knowing this tailor fully well, my brother did not want to take any risk. He ordered Seshagiri to stitch my dresses on the spot and left me in the shop to monitor the progress! I had to spend almost half a day in his shop for this. Meanwhile, my brother decided a revolutionary step for me! In those days no person in our village, poor or rich, used to wear chapples or shoes. My brother got me a pair of canvass shoes. This was another step towards making me a city boy!
While sitting in the tailor shop I had to remove my shoes to go to toilet inside the shop. I had a problem while wearing them again. I simply could not understand how to identify the one for the left feet and the other for the right! Some how I thought I managed. But one of the tailors pointed out the wrong usage to my brother and he was very much upset with me. He must have thought that I had to go a long way before I became a city Boy! But that was me in those days! I couldn’t help but disappoint him!
With the new dress ready, we left for a place called Gadikal (border stone) on a Shankar Transport bus on the way to my sister’s place. This place is called so because it is on the border of Koppa and Thirthahalli taluks, which again belong to Chickmagalore and Shimoga districts respectively. This place is nowadays very famous as it is located very close to Kuppalli, the place from which ‘Kuvempu’, the famous Kannada poet hailed. From here we had to cover a distance of three KMs by foot to reach Hokkalike. There was a middle school in Gadikal, the Head Master of which we met on our way. He saw my marks-card and was very happy to know that I would join his School. He told us that he would welcome a merit student like me with pleasure. It appeared to me that merit commanded respect everywhere!
My sister was very happy to see me at her house. She was glad that one member from her ‘Tavarumane’ (mother’s home) would stay with her for three years. By that time the other boy Vishnumurthy to whom I have already made a reference had arrived in the neighboring house. He had been admitted to 7th Standard being one year senior to me. However, we came to know that he was admitted to the Government school at a place called Basavani. This place was at a distance of 5 KMs from Hokkalike as against Gadikal which was 3 KMs away. We were told that this school had a very good faculty. Besides, being located in Thirthahalli taluk and Shimoga district it had more facilities than our own Gadikal in Koppa taluk and Chickmagalore district. Hearing this, my brother decided to admit me in Basavani.
We were at the Basavani School on the next day. Again I had a nice welcome on account of the high marks I had scored. The Head Master Varadachar was a well-known teacher all over the Thirthahalli taluk. He had an impressive personality and commanded respect from one and all. My class teacher was a tall gentleman called Gurushantappa (AG). This School had one special facility. While all the Schools in Mysore State had a subject called ‘Hygiene’ for 6th Standard, here we had Hindi as a subject in its place. There was a part-time teacher called Gopal for this subject. This came as a blessing to me as my brother had already introduced me to Hindi. I could have a head start. The advantage would help later in our High School education. The School had a subsidized canteen facility even in those days. The funds were from the famous PL 480 funds from America. The milk powder used to come from the USA direct.
My brother left for home after making all the arrangements for me. For the first time in my life I had some pocket money from my brother! I had tears in my eyes as I was to stay there without his guidance and away from other family members. I did feel homesick for quite some time. Of course I felt fully secured under the protective wings of my sister. However, it took some time for me to settle down in the new set up and environment. I had a good company of Vishnumurthy.
---- (To be continued) ------