Netaji's daughter met hubby in Bangalore half a century ago

1960: A love story

Netaji's daughter met hubby in Bangalore half a century ago

This is a tale of love usually read in the realm of legends and literature. However, these two are living testimony that such love lore can happen in real life.

The couple in this romantic saga are Anita Bose and Martin Pfaff. Anita was a teenage girl with stars in her eyes. Pfaff was a young scholar pursuing a degree in commerce, besides working with blind students, in spare time.

As destiny would have it, they met, fell in love, in Bangalore, the Garden City, 50 years ago. The principal players of this mushy romance, Anita, the daughter of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and husband Martin Pfaff, first met in 1960.

Their rosy romance blossomed on the quiet roads of the then Pensioner’s Paradise, where life took on an Edenesque pace. Hand in hand, they sauntered around Town Hall, the famed MG Road, sat on its boulevards busily whispering sweet nothings, soaking in the slyvan and serene settings of Cubbon Park, watching musicians at the band stand. After five full ye­ars of courtship, they married. And lived happily ever after.

Among early visits Anita made to India from Vienna, she first went to Kolkata and then travelled to Bangalore with cousins for holiday. Martin, at that time, was working with two blind schools in Bangalore. A common friend brought them together. And the rest, as they say, turned this chance tryst into history for both.

Half a century later, the couple will be visiting Bangalore next week, to walk down the memory lane, to relive those memorable days along with the other family members. In the last five decades since the­ir marriage, both became economics professors at the University of Augusburg in Ge­r­many and have since retired.

Martin was also a parliamentarian in Germany for three terms between 1990 and 2002. But he quit active politics after a bypass surgery and now works in the university as a part-time scholar.

“I remember reading Deccan Herald in good old days. Once it also published a photograph of me,” he told this correspondent in Delhi, with Anita standing beside him. One of their sons is a journalist with a German radio agency.

Though she is the daughter of one of India’s legendary nationalist leaders, who attacked the British government with his Indian National Army, Anita has little personal memories of her father because Netaji left her and her mother Emilie Schenkl when she was only four weeks old.

After leaving the mother and daughter in Europe, Netaji undertook one of the most perilous submarine journeys undertaken by a man – a 90-day voyage through mine-infested waters to the other side of the world to Japan. He was the only civilian transferred from a German submarine to a Japanese one during World War II.

Anita, of course, did not have any first-hand memory of those events as well as the Taihoku plane crash of August 18, 1945, as she was too small to remember anything. “I learnt about him when I grew up and saw him in photos, which my mother kept at home,” she told Deccan Herald.

Bangalore, today’s Silicon City in rapid transformation, may have lost its historical sobriquets. But, the return of  Anita to rekindle her happy and cherished memories cannot deny the City its rightful date with the young girl whose romance blossomed into a beautiful relationship of two beautiful minds.

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