The famous follow her

The famous follow her

Mother organised charming parties with her dishes for the mere pleasure of socialising.

Leela Krishnamoorthy, my mother, cannot remember the year when the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had asked of her father, “Why do you wear a suit?” at the East Station Bangalore en route to...where? Again, mother cannot remember. But, as the story goes, her father – my grandfather – emptied his pockets for the independence movement and he made mother, a little girl then, donate her gold bangles for the cause to a volunteer. So, Leela has seen the great leader and she is proud of it.

When father was alive, our home was the hub of social activities, and who’s who would be invited. Mother would organise charming parties where her dishes would be for the mere pleasure of socialising and not currying favour! Those were good days when you found the Inspector General of Police, the Air Commodore and the Brigadier with their families all under one roof just to enjoy an elegant dinner.

It could so happen that, at times, the chief minister would want a taste of appams and paya, and he might just drop by, while the Commissioner of Transport may be scurrying to our house with heaps of holige (a sweet dish) to add to the fanfare.

These gatherings were out of sheer respect for one another, and there was never a favour exchanged or looked upon eagerly. They were honest people looking to enjoy a meal together without being more valued for their office or monetary position, but only their fine human qualities.

They worked for esteem as much as for their salary, and enjoyed the preferential lineage from which they came, and because of which they had a lot to uphold – the integrity of office and business.

After father’s demise, it all simmered down to the mundane while the social fabric, too, changed. But mother couldn’t remain without the famous around her. When in Madhya Pradesh, Uma Bharti was so taken by mother that she gifted her a sari. About the same time, mother was visiting Gandhi’s Ashram when she chanced upon the honourable former President Abdul Kalam, who discussed Gandhiji’s visions.

There was also another gentleman  along with Kalam who was nodding his acquiescence on Gandhiji’s being philosophy extolled. Out of sheer curiosity, mother spoke to the gentleman, “Sir, you look so familiar, but I cannot place you.” The gentleman just smiled, understanding that mother was ripe in age. He merely said, “Madam, I am I K Gujral.” In all humility, mother was flummoxed!

Just the other day, mother showed us – my three daughters and I – a card. It was a business card that read ‘Modern Guest House’. The address was 93 Shirehall Park, Hendon, NW-4. The card also had the name of the proprietress, Mrs W E Relph, and manageress, Mrs M W Powell and telephone Hendon 1018. I decided to Google it and what did I find!

The place where mother had stayed on her first visit to London was now declared a heritage building with a blue plaque on it that said, “Little Tich (Harry Relph), Music Hall Comedian, lived and died here (1867-1928)”. The proprietress was his wife, Mrs W E Relph!  

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