On one occasion when I was facing acute financial problems, while studying for my PUC, an astrologer had seen my palm. I wanted to know from him whether I had any chance of coming out of my financial problems in my student-career. I was really fed up and desperate at that stage. He clearly told me that there was every possibility of my coming across a philanthropist at some stage. If and when it happened, as per him, all my financial worries would come to an end. He had also told me that it was not just the support from this philanthropist; rather my very financial position would change for the better.
How true he was! My entry into the house of Srikantaiah changed my entire financial position. The reader has by now become very familiar with my eternal financial worries. It is time to read some positive turnarounds in my tale. Let me narrate this interesting and pleasant part of my story.
As already stated by me, my entire college fee for my second year B.Sc was also paid by the Academy against an on demand promissory note. Under the protective umbrella of Srikantaiah, I had no expenses to meet for my stay and boarding. One fine morning my original benefactor Shankar Rao brought good news for me. He was a Director in the Shimoga Arecanut Marketing Society (MAMCOS) of which my father was a share-holder. Shankar Rao made the Society sanction a prize for me (as the son of a share-holder) for securing a rank in PUC. It was cash prize of rupees one hundred fifty. It was quite a big amount in those day standards. A special masala dosa in the prestigious ‘Mallika Mandira’ used to cost only twenty paise! Actually I did not know what to do with the money as my needs were limited!
Having received this money from an unexpected source, I started thinking that there has to be some sort of reward from either the University or the Government also for my achievement. So far whatever I got was only from private institutions and well-wishers. I went and met the Principal in this connection. He was quite sure that there was no such thing from the University or the Government! He did not even think it fit to at least send a query to the University!
I somehow felt that I should see the logical end of my basic doubt. I was not prepared to simply accept that the University had no mode of rewarding a rank student. I had come to know that a very highly acclaimed IAS officer, Ramachandran, had taken charge as the Registrar of Mysore University. I addressed a personal letter to him explaining my financial position and my status as a rank holder. For good measure, I added that I expected justice from him as an acclaimed IAS officer!
Hardly within ten days, I received an envelope from the University. I opened the same with great enthusiasm and expectation. But to my shock, I found my own letter kept in the envelope! In other words, the University had returned my letter without even going through it! I was totally disappointed with the treatment meted out to me.
I was about to tear off the letter, when suddenly I found something written at the end of my letter! The Registrar had himself asked the department to verify and sanction suitable reward for me. He had written it in his own handwriting. The department had made an endorsement below that I was eligible for the University merit scholarship and the same was being sanctioned. Oh! My goodness! I could not believe myself!
I did not inform anybody including the Principal about this correspondence. I just waited patiently to receive the scholarship amount from the University. I was very eager to know the amount of the scholarship. The last scholarship I had received was rupees one hundred in
Naturally I expected an amount more than that. Shimoga High school
I did not have to wait for long. Within another week, I got a call from the Principal. I was asked to meet him urgently interrupting the class I was attending! I knew what the news could be. The Principal was in a jubilant mood. He told me that he had managed to get a reward for me from the University! I thought it prudent not to spoil his party by telling him about my correspondence with the Registrar. I wanted to be politically correct. I thanked him profusely for his efforts!
The clerk wanted me to pay him ten paise being the charge of a revenue stamp. I signed across the revenue stamp and received a cheque from him. It was for an amount of rupees four hundred and fifty rupees! It was the ultimate reward I got from the University. The University was quite generous. My crusade to get a reward for my achievement from the relevant authority had culminated in the best manner possible. Thanks to the Registrar-Ramachandran.
I distinctly remember the day I walked into the branch of Syndicate Bank in Sringeri with the cheque. I already knew a few of the staff there. There was a person by name Nayak. He was a senior supervisor and was known as the face of Syndicate bank in Sringeri. He was a tall handsome man always dressed in a pure white dhothi and a full shirt. He lived alone and moved around on a cycle. A highly respected man, I had seen him eating in Mallika Mandir many a time. He would go on ordering one item after another! People used to say that being a bank-employee, he could afford to order and eat whatever he wanted!
The bank-employees were said to be highly paid in those days and people used to envy them a lot. Another reason was that most of them including, our Nayak, were ordinary matriculates. A lecturer with a postgraduation qualification was drawing a salary of rupees three hundred and here was Nayak, a matriculate, drawing much more than that. In fact, as per some confidential sources, he was drawing more than our principal! To be more precise, Nayak the matriculate, was supposed to be drawing rupees seven hundred per month against rupees six hundred drawn by the Principal with his doctorate degree! The difference was, the lecturers and the Principal had to pay heavily for their dresses-they had to wear suits-whereas Nayak and his ilk managed with an ordinary dhothi and shirt!
Coming back to my story, I handed over my cheque to Nayak expecting him to pay the money to me. He knew me well and asked me what it was for. I told him that it was my scholarship money. He told me that he could not pay me cash as it was crossed! I could not understand what he was saying. I thought I was facing another hurdle in receiving my rightful money! I asked him who had crossed the cheque and created problem for me. He told me that it was the college office. I was about to conclude that it was a conspiracy against me! But Nayak clarified to me that it was normal to cross such cheques. All I was required to do was to open an account in my name and put the cheque there. I could draw the money according to my requirements and earn interest on the balance.
To cut the story short, I opened my first bank account with Syndicate Bank with introduction from Srikantaiah. I was very happy to see a balance of rupees four hundred fifty in my bank pass book. I still had most of my society-prize money of rupees one hundred fifty in cash in a corner of my trunk. I remitted the same also to my bank account. Suddenly I had become a cash-rich college student, the entire money earned as a reward for my performance!
One fine morning I suddenly developed a kind of doubt as to whether I was right in sitting over my money while enjoying the free facility at Srikantaiah’s house. I tried to raise this issue with him in a subtle way. He dismissed it as a non-issue and advised me to hold on to the money for my higher studies. He was a great man. There was simply no scope for such thoughts in his enlightened mind.
One fine morning another thought suddenly came to my mind. A scholarship sanctioned one year, is generally continued in the next years also. It had happened like that in my High School. As the word ‘scholarship’ had been used in the present case also, there was every possibility that the same may be continued in the ensuing years also. The very thought gave me a sort of elation. Again I went and met the Principal. As expected he was sure that it was only a reward given to me for my PUC rank. He felt there was no scope for continuing it for other years.
I had left the matter for rest for some time. One fine morning I read in the newspaper that the Vice Chancellor of Mysore University had retired and Mr. Ramachandran, the Registrar, will be in-charge in his place till a permanent appointment was made. Suddenly the thought came to me; why not get the matter clarified from the top man himself. After all, he was the one who got me the scholarship in the first place. Immediately I wrote a letter to him duly congratulating him for his elevation as Vice Chancellor!
Within a week I received another envelop from the University. As in the earlier instance I found my own letter inside. But this time I straight away verified the end of my letter. I was not disappointed; I found an endorsement by the University office. It is more than forty years since then; but I remember every word of it. It read as follows:
“The scholarship sanctioned for the first year degree will continue throughout the career of the student in the University. It is subject to the satisfactory performance each year.”
The end of that Academic year saw the balance in my Syndicate Bank account touch almost rupees one thousand!
------- (To be continued)------