Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Story of a Malnad Boy - 41

I was extremely happy to be back with my family after living for a considerable time in the city of Shimoga. I spent a long time in telling my experiences in the city, particularly, the hostel life in which everybody was interested. The city life had certainly brought in lot of changes in me as a person. My elder brother was watching me closely especially my spoken Kannada. I got a feeling that he wanted further improvements. He gave me some advice on that. There was another pleasant change for me. All along I was being addressed by a nickname Kitta by my family and consequently by the all the villagers. To be frank, I never liked it a bit. Now that I had become a city boy I hated it more. I simply wanted me to be called by my first name which my beloved maternal uncle had given me so lovingly! It appears that my eldest brother had understood my predicament. He started addressing me by my first name. Slowly all others also took a cue and I got back my original name! It was such a relief for me! Looking back on this aspect of my life I now feel that this nickname was not so bad after all! However, it was also true that I evolved as a city boy with the restoration of my first name with the help of my dear brother!

Most of my villagers were very curious to know about my hostel life. It appears that I was the first boy to stay in a hostel. Many of the boys from the rich Belavinakodige family were studying in Shimoga. But they were staying with their uncle. I was the first boy from a poor family to stay in city for High school studies. My immediate neighbor Kittajjiah’s family heard the full story from me. They were so much interested that I subsequently made it a practice to visit them during all my home visits and brief them on my city life! But I had another type of experience with another family. When I was explaining the difficulty in securing the hostel seat they were wondering why in the first place my brother had to send me to Shimoga! In fact one of them told me that my brother was quite foolish to send me to Shimoga just for the sake of so called English medium!

One day suddenly my brother asked me to show him the notebook of my expenditure account. I had always dreaded this and was quite aware that I had to face this event one day with my brother. He went through the accounts in detail. Probably he was aware of my efforts to hide the expenditure towards my hotel bills! Luckily he was not particular to dig up the entries and embarrass me. But he simply could not tolerate certain entries which violated the basic principle of accounting system! I had made some entries as expenditure which was in fact repayment of borrowings from my friends!  I tried to explain it away saying that after all I had to repay the loans! But I could not satisfactorily answer when my brother asked me where I had entered the amounts received as loans earlier! Somehow the issue was closed thanks to my brother.

The Dasara holidays came to an end early. My brother took me to Koppa town on the way to Shimoga. There he took me to the residence of Military Doctor. I should give here a brief introduction of this great doctor. His real name was Dr. (Captain) M. R. R. Iyengar. He had served as doctor in the Military and had seen the Second World War. He had settled down in Koppa town and had agricultural lands nearby. He was a very distinguished citizen of Koppa town and was a Municipal Councilor for a long time. He was the only doctor who would not mind visiting any village in any corner of Koppa and Sringeri taluks. He had that giant Royal Enfield motorcycle on which he could reach any village, however bad the road may be! For the villagers he was like an Apatbandhava (A close relative who helps you in emergency). You could expect him to visit your place at any time during an emergency.

 For the villagers, he was simply Military doctor and nobody bothered about his name. In fact I came to know his name only because he was one of the persons who had given me a recommendation letter for the hostel. The letterhead contained his name!

As a boy I used to run away the moment I heard the sound of his motorbike. That was quite normal for all other boys like me. We were mortally afraid of his injections! His arrival in the village would be first heralded by the sound of the Royal Enfield! He would be followed by another village helping hand carrying his dark leather bag containing medicines. He would act as a Compounder. The moment we saw this Compounder we would run for cover! In fact we would mount a hillock called Kithlekatte Gudda and would only come down after seeing the Royal Enfield being driven away. That was the type of fear we had for this Military doctor and his injections!

The doctor was always quite jovial but at the same time very commanding. He would address the patient in his own style. His very appearance with a Military hat on his head would invite great respect and confidence in the mind of the patient! I had several times felt that my fever disappeared the moment he took my hand to check my heart beat. His soothing words would act as a healing balm! There was no system of writing prescriptions. He would give injections and deliver the medicines on the spot from out of his bag. I have seen several doctors later in my life. But this Military Doctor had a class of his own! Nobody could beat him!

The doctor was quite aware of my progress in studies. He fully supported my brother in sending me to English medium School. My brother told me to gratefully acknowledge his support which I did. He told me that I should ensure that I always secured a top rank from number one to four! It appeared as a concession for me! For the first time somebody (that too the doctor!) told me that securing a rank below number one was not bad after all! I looked towards my brother for his reaction! But he was expressionless! There appeared to be no concession from his side!

I was back at the hostel after the holidays. As expected, the teachers started handing over our answer papers duly corrected by them one by one. We had six subjects. I had secured distinction in the subjects for which marks were announced initially. But it was very difficult to find out who stood first as some of the teachers simply handed over the papers. The last paper to be handed over was Mathematics by our class teacher SSR himself. He had awarded the highest marks of ninety seven for me. The second highest was eighty four. With that the issue was settled finally. I stood first in the class with the highest total marks! I had achieved the goal set for me by my beloved brother! A boy by the name Mahabaleshwar had secured the second rank. He was the one with whom I had to compete for the coveted first rank. The others were nowhere nearer. Mahabaleshwar later joined the Mysore Medical College and completed his MBBS. I am told that he is presently a top doctor at NIMHANS, Bangalore.

My brother was quite pleased with my performance. I also wrote a letter to Srinivas who was with Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi. He wrote back an encouraging letter to me. I was suddenly feeling a sensation of great relief. I had unburdened the load of high expectation which was causing a lot of mental stress to me. At the same time the boys started calling me a rank student. This title was to create further stress on me. While I enjoyed the title very much, the huge anticipation was causing me trouble.

Our HM used to invite distinguished guests to our School on important occasions. Shimoga Subbanna was one of such invitees. He was a budding artist at that time. He had also started his practice as an Income tax consultant at that time. He sang some of the poems of Kuvempu, the great Kannada poet beautifully. Another occasion I remember is the mourning we held for the death of John Kennedy, the then President of America. 

It was the 22nd day of November 1963. I distinctly remember, even as young boys we had great affection for this great handsome international leader. We were all his admirers and felt his death as an irreparable loss to the international community in general. Our HM was overcome with feelings and wept on the stage and we simply joined him. 

While reading the English newspaper daily I used to read about the game of cricket. Earlier I had read an English lesson in my 6th standard where there was a mention of the game of cricket. It stated that “Hazare, the famous cricketer, is one of the eleven best cricketers in the world.” It had made me curious to know about this game. In our hostel there was a group of students all of whom hailed from a village called Mattur near Shimoga. These boys always used to discuss the game of cricket. One of my classmates and also hostel mate Anantha also hailed from this village. By interacting with this group I learnt all about this game over a period of time.

I was told by this group that the English team would be visiting India shortly for a five test match series. They advised me to hear the commentary over radio to enjoy the game. I had so far neither heard any radio programme nor knew about the cricket commentary. By that time I had developed a kind of rapport with certain senior college students. I told them about my desire to hear the radio commentary. I was assured that they would help me once the test match series commenced.

The English team arrived in India and the first test was held in Chennai (then Madras). I had to satisfy myself by reading the reports in the news papers. I gently reminded the senior students about their promise. You may not believe this. But these boys were so close to the hostel warden, they took me to his house for hearing the commentary! The house was very close to the hostel and I could hear the commentary on Saturday afternoons and Sundays comfortably. Thus began my craze for hearing the cricket commentary over radio.

------ (To be continued) ------


Govinda Rao said...

In those days one Mr.Ananda Rao was an excellent commentator whose ball by ball description
would make anyone continue to listen. B. G. Rao

AVK Murthy said...

You are right, Sir. We were told that he was a Manager/partner in Woodlands Hotel in Chennai. I am not sure about that. He was among the best commentators. Of course, the worst of them was Vizzy - The Maharaja of Vizianagaram, an ex-captain of Indian team.