Springing a sweet surprise

Springing a sweet surprise

There is a lot of truth in the saying — ‘Chance makes our parents, but choice makes our friends’.   Friends have always a played a very important role in my life.

   I turned 90 on November 24 and the fun-filled occasion brought back memories of my 60th birthday in 1984.

    This photograph was taken on my 60th birthday at my sister Malathi Rao’s house in Richmond Town along with all our friends.
   The birthday celebration was a sweet surprise from my sister, who is 10 years younger to me.
I was not always a Bengalurean. I was born and  brought up in Mysore. In those days, royalty meant a lot. In fact, the Maharaja of Mysore, His Highness Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar, asked my grandfather, who was working in the forest department, to send me to the Royal School there. But I was barely eight then and studying in Good Shepherd Convent in Mysore. So my grandfather laughed it off saying I was too young. However, a few years later, I was sent there. 

Later on , I got married and my husband was working with the Air Force. So we lived in places like Delhi and even in England. But during holidays, we would always come to Bengaluru to visit my parents. It was retirement that brought us to the City. That was 30 years ago.

Bengaluru was then calm  and serene, and free from today’s stressful way of life. Those days, we used to meet up  our friends and talk about our school, college and how we had moved on. We were young once again.

     Coming back to my 60th birthday, it was a wonderful celebration. The sari that I am wearing in the picture was gifted to me by my mother. Actually, I wore the same sari for my 90th birthday too! Those who came for my 60th birthday celebrations included Jagat Kumari, Bharati, Radha Bhat, Padma, Rani Vijayadevi, Parvathi and Vijaya.
I remember my friend Jagat Kumari  coming to Mysore as the beautiful bride of Bharat Singh (a relative of Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar).     There was Radha Bhat, a sincere woman who overcame hardships to raise her four children single-handedly after losing her husband in an accident.

Bharati was good-natured and although she got married to a prince, she always remained the same sweet person.

Padma, who was also present on the occasion, was my classmate in college and worked as a librarian in the British Council for some years.

Rani Vijayadevi — a princess — was a real princess in every way — dignified and gracious, an accomplished pianist and a true friend. In fact, she was a fairytale princess come alive.
Parvathi was my classmate from high school through college. I remember her as prim and proper, warm and affectionate and a good friend. I still keep in touch with her.

Yet another sincere friend from my childhood days and who was there was Vijaya — a wonderful and strong personality.

As far as my sister Malathi is concerned, who brought about this unforgettable get- together, I could not have asked for anything more precious than this gift.

When I look at this photograph now, I feel grateful to all my friends for taking such a wonderful photograph and capturing my life in such a beautiful manner.

 Unfortunately, Rani Vijayadevi and Radha Bhat are no more and as far as my other friends are concerned, though we are not tech-savvy, we somehow stay in touch.

Today, the outlook of people towards friendship and family has changed. Our interests were limited. We were happy in each other’s company and our biggest strength was being content with life.

Bhagirathi Sitaram
(As told to
Deepa Natarajan Lobo)

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