My Life Memoirs-6
My Life, Full of Beautiful Memories
- My Marriage with Innaiah Narisetti on 31st May, 1964
Justice Sambasiva Rao played an important role in fixing our marriage. He knew Innaiah closely as an active worker in the Humanist and Rationalist movement and in keeping with that, Innaiah refused to accept dowry offered by my father.
My sister Syamala also was to get married to Mr.M.Nagayya, a physical education teacher in Addanki. Syamala and Nagayya are made for each other both very good and quiet people. Both marriages took place in Tenali. Mr. Avula Gopala Krishna Murthy officiated the marriages and Justice Sambasiva Rao made a very interesting speech. My family hosted dinner for all the guests who attended the marriages. C. Raja Reddy,-a Rationalist friend of Innaiah made him buy me a beautiful silk saree and a gold chain. Our marriage was a simple affair unlike the grand weddings of my two sisters and brother.
Innaiah who had initially discontinued his studies in Andhra University due to sudden demise of his father, was working in Sanga Reddy where his brother Vijaya Raj Kumar was living with their mother, his wife Kanya Kumari, two sons –Devaraj & Rajendra Kumar. By our wedding time, Innaiah completed M.A. previous from Osmania University with Philosophy as his main subject via distance education.
After our marriage Innaiah moved to Hyderabad, joined Osmania University for Ph.D. with philosophical consequences of modern science, with special reference to Quantum Theory, as his topic. He completed his work in 18 months and submitted his thesis. But his guide, Prof. Madhusudan Reddy played a nasty game-for –reasons best known to him alone, delaying the degree indefinitely. Eventually, the AP High Court had to intervene and force the University to award Innaiah his Ph.D. By then, 12 years had lapsed and while he would have received compensation for the delay had he applied, Innaiah didn’t. Dr. Reddy was reprimanded by the High Court for his faulty actions though that was a poor consolation for us.
- Our Children- The Best Gift in Our Life
Our first baby was born on 21 May, 1965, which was the happiest day for us. The baby was adorable, fair, chubby and extremely beautiful.
I went to my parents in the village for my delivery. It was not a wise decision, though. My parents had to temporarily move to Tenali for my sake. It was inconvenient for them and also expensive but didn’t mind and happily waited for their granddaughter.
My doctor Dr.Jhansi Vani had just left for Tirupati hoping my delivery could wait for a few days. But I went into labor that very midnight.
The next day the nurses had to call a male doctor for help. It was supposed to be a caesarean but the doctor decided to forgo surgery. Still, I think the natural birth procedure did cause some damage to my internal system and since then I have been suffering.
Our baby was surrounded by my parents, my sisters, brother and all the other grand children of my parents- Vimala’s chidren, -Ashok, Narendra, Sateesh, Kalpana, Kusuma and Suresh; my brother’s chidren-Tara, Nagamani (Baby) and Krishna Mohan. She was a happy child. If she didn’t find any one at her bedside she cried. She loved people even as a baby. My sisters took care of her. It was a hot summer, ‘Rohini Karti’ and my sisters made the baby sleep on fresh banana leaves to avoid excessive heat.
At the end of second month I decided to go back to Hyderabad. My mother accompanied me to help me with the baby. Mean while Innaiah found a better rental accommodation for us, near my school. The owner’s elder daughter, Shailaja was my student. Until then, we had lived in a tile roofed house in Issamia Bazaar next to my sister-in-law Kamala and her husband Cherukuri Subbaiah. The new place was really good. My mother took care of our daughter untill she was four months old.
The house owner’s family liked the baby and all of them pampered her a lot. They named her ‘Soni’. Even now, some of our friends call her ‘Soni’. Unill she was three months old, we had not decided on her name. My father suggested that we should give her a modern name “Naveenamu ga unde peru with two or three letters” he said and Innaiah had taken a clue from that – and said that we should call her Naveena. Indirectly, my father ended up naming her though he thought it was a father’s prerogative to name his daughter.
Naveena was a happy child from day one. She behaved very maturely. She was very fond of her father and, he paid all his attention to her. She was a healthy baby and there were – no doctor visits needed.
There was a shortage of baby – milk powder – when Naveena was a baby. Innaiah’s rationalist friend, C. Raja Reddy and Mandava Sree Rama Murthy, – a close friend from Grameena Bank, procured milk powder tins and sent them to us in Hyderabad. Towards the end of her first year, I put Naveena on regular buffalo milk and she had no problem with that change. My mother-in-law helped us in raising her and we always hired a good maid-servant to take care of her. But she spent a lot of time with the house owners who bestowed lots of love on her. I was really thankful to them.
When Naveena was thirteen months old, our son was born on 26 June 1966 in Dr. Lakshmi Desai’s hospital in Hyderabad.
I still remember the day and time when I realized that I was pregnant again, after Naveena. My colleague Kanaka Mani and myself went to Abids to select some English books for our school library, after which we went to ‘Orient Hotel’ for lunch.
The hotel was famous for the elite and the intellectuals of the city who spent their evenings there and discussed subjects of their interest. The hotel was opposite Nizam College.
We ordered our food. I felt a slight motion inside me, – a strange feeling, that told me I was pregnant. After that I didn’t relish the food- the smells put me off. I gave birth to my son, – who grew to be highly intellectual, a famous name in the field of business journalism.
My mother-in-law called him Raju after her husband Rajaiah and we never thought of changing that and giving him some other name. As he grew up, he sometimes would say that he did not like the name Raju as it denoted, caste in our state- but he refused to change his name respecting his grandparents.
In his first year Raju needed the help of a physician frequently- for cold, cough, fever and such irritants. Dr. Uma, who was next door, treated him. From day one, he was a poor eater- and he remained hungry. refusing milk or solid food in those growing months. He was weak but didn’t cry. He was a quiet boy, mostly clinging to me.
I needed to go to work. Innaiah’s young friend,- Veldi Venkateswarulu, looked after Raju for some months when I was at work. Veldi was completing his course staying in a rented room. From 9 to 4, he stayed with my baby boy and very lovingly attended to all his needs. Both my kids love him a lot. They used to call him “Aai Mama”. “Even now, they are in touch with him. He is a retired teacher and a grandfather. But for Naveena and Raju he is still “Aai Mama” and- I am always grateful to Veldi for his timely help and the love with which he treated my children.
We sent our children to a Montessori school, – Sisu Vihar, in Barkathpura when they turned two. Even now I feel that it was too early for them to be in a school. But it was better than being in the care of a maid at home, – we thought.
Naveena cried for a few days refusing to go to school. Raju didn’t protest, but his eyes were filled with tears, initially. They didn’t continue in that school as we moved from our rented house. We lived for a brief period in advocate Raja Reddy’s house. His wife Suseelamma was a quiet person. She was fond of Naveena and always appreciated the intelligent way Naveena talked to other people. All my family members call Naveena ‘Chinni’ as she is the youngest of my parents’ granddaughters. I call her ‘Chinni’ even now. She has always been fond of her brother,- very protective and very possessive. She always behaves as though she is the custodian of her baby brother.
We then moved to the New Legislators’ Quarters (MLA Quarters) in Basheer Bagh. Kolluri Koteswara Rao, the Teacher Member of Legislative Council from Krishna District requested Innaiah to move to his quarters, No.131. His family stayed in Machilipatnam. Innaiah helped Koteswara Rao regarding Council proceedings- what questions to raise, how to answer questions posed to him by other members and scuh. He published a magazine ‘Telugu Vidhyarthi’ for the benefit of school students. Innaiah contributed articles to it regularly. He interviewed eminent people in the field of education for the magazine, he also wrote books, which Koteswara Rao published. Innaiah did not get any royalty for his works but we lived in Koteswara Rao’s quarters rent-free, which was real financial help to us those days.
We got our kids admitted in ‘Blue Bells’ school, close to our quarters. It was run by Mrs. Najma Ahmad. She was London trained. She admitted and educated students up to fourth class. In each class, there were a limited number of students. She took special interest of every student. She was a beautiful and pleasant lady and quiet capable in teaching. She laid a good foundation to our children who liked their teacher and her way of educating them. Her daughter Shireen too studied along with them.
New M.L.A. quarters were safe for our kids. They played on vast lawns and made many friends. Naveena’s close friends were Manohari M.V. SubbaRaju’s granddaughter and Durga Bhavani- Bhavanam Venkatram’s daughter. Manohari later settled in America and, Dr. Durga Bhavani runs her own hospital, Sun Shine, in Secunderabad. She is a gynecologist. Naveena used to be the leader of her play group. She exhibited leadership qualities even as a child. She always behaved in a matured way. She took care that her little brother was not hurt in any way while playing with older kids. Raju’s special friend was Benarjee, much older to him. They were fond of each other. Benarjee later settled in America.
One heart – rending incident took place during our time in MLA Quarters. On the day of Holi festival, Raju was missing in the afternoon. We frantically searched for him everywhere without any clue. Mr. Parvathaneni Koteswara Rao –Assistant commissioner of Police and – a good friend of our family alerted all the police stations in the city and ordered for a search for Raju. Towards evening, Raju walked home- totally tired. Through him we came to know that the Nepali Goorkha of the quarters kidnapped him and locked him in his room. Raju was scared, hungry and tired, slept on the table where he was made to sit. The Goorkha’s wife returned home in the evening and found Raju sitting quietly. She fought against the evil intentions of her husband and set Raju free. Thanks to that lady,- a-mother of two, – we got our son back to us. Our panic and, pain – the wave of emotions all subsided when we hugged our son. The relief was oceanic. But for this one terrible experience, life in the quarters was safe and pleasant. Innaiah and myself were known as Soni’s parents. She was a very popular kid there loved by young and old. She was known as a good mannered girl, loving and helpful.
After Blue Bells, both our kids took entrance examination for admission in St.George’s Grammar School, – with separate campuses for girls and boys. My sister-in-law Kamala’s son Rajasekhar was in Raju’s class. They generally fared very well in their studies. Their academic year was January to December. Their regular fees, term fees, books, uniform, and, shoes were all a bit expensive those days, for me, but we managed it.
Our kids and their cousins, Rajasekhar and his younger sister Madhavi, enjoyed spending time together at weekends, – either at our place or at Kamala’s home. She used to cook special items for them; make ice-cream with the help of a machine and, fed them lovingly by hand, while telling them movie stories. Immersed in her stories the kids used to eat a little more than usual. Even Raju, -a poor eater ate a morsel more and the kids would fight for her very last finger full of rice on the plate. Naveena and Raju have always been very fond of their aunt Kamala and her family. Kamala loved and cared very much for Innaiah, her younger brother.
Our children studied in the Grammar School up to 9th class which they finished in the month of December. They decided to take the 10th class examination- S.L.C. (School Leaving Certificate) in March. Both were under age, they obtained age condonation certificate from the Tahasildar. They had to study English, Hindi, Second Language, Maths, Science and Social studies for examination. They had two months time for that.
I was apprehensive about their decisions and the result. Both opted for Special English instead of a second language. They passed with good marks. Raju and Rajasekhar had a bet over with the loser of the bet having who ever gets high marks in have to take the other to every James Bond movie for life. Raju honored that bet for many years, until Rajasekhar went to the US for higher studies.
Naveena and Raju used to sit with their father who used to tell them many things about science and scientists and – their innovations for the benefit of mankind. He taught them how to view the world through the lens of science not scriptures. They used to read books on science and thus developed thinking, reasoning and questioning skills. They used to argue with him if they did not agree with him on any issue. He used to tell them important things that happened in the society and around the world every day. Thus they took interest in daily news papers and listen to news on the radio. Television only came much later to India, when they started their college.
Raju used to observe men and matters keenly and he has a wonderful memory: – once he heard or read anything, he does not forget it. He was a shy type. Except with his close friends he was not very open. Naveena was open with young and old people, and talked to people boldly. She used to play with friends and then sit and study untill late in the night. Raju used to go to bed very early, whether I gave him dinner or not, –he didn’t bother. Eating was a chore to him, which he never liked. He used to help me in small things at home,- I was amused at the way he helped me. Small actions often speak the loudest. Naveena used to keep the house clean and entertain guests. She used to invite a lot of her friends home without telling me or taking our permission. Raju used to tell me before hand and used to find out whether I was free and ready to entertain the few friends he invited home. Both maintain friendships well. All their friends are our friends too and we love them and care about them. Both our children have been maintaining their friendships with some from their schooldays and they are in close touch with them even today, visiting them when time permits.
Naveena resembles her Tataamma (paternal Grand father’s mother) Mariamma, – in looks, strength, hard work and endurance. Mariamma liked Innaiah very much and paid special attention in raising him as Raju resembles his father in looks and behavior, – in reading a lot, eating less, being frank and straight forward and in so many other things. Both love Journalism. Raju knows how to meet any situation with strength and resolve; can inspire innovations and promote learning; determination is his teacher.
Komala Venigalla, wife of Sri Inniah Narisetty is a retired Assistant Professor of English from Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad. Written on Modern Women covering various aspects of their lives in contemporary world. Traslated M.N.Roy’s Memoirs of Cat into Telugu. Contributed articles to Misimi Telugu monthly.