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Facets Of India: Blue House Bonhomie - 6

Poet and columnist Hariharan Balakrishnan concludes his series of articles featuring the man who was his Guru, friend, philosopher and guide at an age when he was in need of such a person.

DVR had a stroke of paraplegia and was not his usual self by the time I left Berhampur in 1980. I used to enquire about his health from time to time, and met him before leaving town. He was surprisingly agile, coherent and humorous- almost his usual self. In a few years, in 1983, he left this world. When I visited his house after a few months, I was surprised when his wife Sarojini Devi told me that one of his last regrets was that I had left Berhampur. She almost choked when she said that.

He was hoping that I would help him in putting in proper order and publishing his several writings that form interesting facets of India’s history. I was struck dumb and my eyes were welling up. I didn’t know where to look. I had no idea that someone whom I considered a friend, philosopher and guide in more ways than one had that kind of trust in my abilities. I felt humble.


In 1997, I went to Blue House once again to attend the wedding of my friend Dr. Swamy’s daughter Sarita. As all of us old buddies were chatting before lunch, some girls and ladies were asking us to give way in the crowded drawing room. They were escorting an old lady to the next room where the bride was seated. She had a walking stick in her hand. Her back was bent. The moment I saw her, I stood up. Old memories made me go in front of her and ask with a smile, “Do you recognize me?” She appeared puzzled- but only for a few seconds. And then she almost shouted, “Balakrishna! You have become like this!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or weep. Imagine someone in that state, and at that age (she was in her 80s) asking another in his fifties, albeit with a balding pate and an elder face, something like that! Maybe the mental picture she had in front of her eyes was of a chubby youngster. That one expression was nothing short of pure affection- affection for someone whom you have seen and remember from his school days. My friend’s mother was affection personified.

Though I could never fulfill the fond wish of my Guru who was a friend, philosopher and guide at an age when I badly needed one, I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Dr. Swamy who gave me the two volumes of his father’s journalistic work which spanned crucial years of pre- and post-independent India. Anyone who is interested in this subject is welcome to the view of India in the 20th century from the personal window of Mr. Digumarti Venkata Rama Rao. You can contact me by mail at fabalas02@gmail.com

H. Balakrishnan
283 Shaheed Nagar
Bhubaneswar 751007
Tel.: +919338246725


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