Down memory lane

"Can you please come as chief guest for T Sunandamma's hundredth year anniversary?" the president of our Writer's Association said over the phone.

What? Our Sunandakka (as she was affectionately called by us) would have been 100 years now had she lived? I just can't imagine that! But then, a thought crossed my mind. I too will turn 100 a few years after my death; will my centenary also be celebrated like this? What a treat it would be to watch the function from heaven! The speaker would have to highlight my best works and make the whole house rock with laughter by reading excerpts from my humour pieces.

Now, who could do that well? I tried to select a fan from this generation. I did find one person worthy, and decided to groom her. Here, though, a doubt assailed me. Suppose that person died before she could reach my 100th anniversary? Well then, it would be safe to select at least a couple more fans for that significant post, I thought. It was also imperative that I had a beautiful photo of mine ready to be unveiled during the function. Alas, till now no photographer has done justice to my good looks and youngish appearance. Having made these important decisions, I turned my attention to the task ahead.

Years of submerged memories surfaced, flooding my mind with poignant moments of a friendship savoured. Sunandakka had an imposing persona, evoking our respect in the very first meeting! Her intellectual calibre, honed and nurtured at home through books of great writers in both English and Kannada, paved the way for her to become the foremost humourist in Kannada literature.

Even our friendship began thanks to this field. Quick to notice the potential of others, she soon became our guiding star. Apart from our Lekhakiyara Sangha (women writers' association), a few of us from Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi also formed a mini literary group on the lines of the famous coffee club in England. We met once a month at each other's house by turns, to discuss various forms of literature and the works of latest writers.

Here I must mention an unforgettable incident. Once Sunandakka decided to train us, the Malleshwaram group, for a social play of hers to be broadcast on AIR Bangalore. We unanimously opted to have the rehearsal at the house late Nirupama, another famous writer. Reason: Nirupama's culinary skills.

Well, the rehearsal started in right earnest. But arrested by the irresistable aroma wafting from the kitchen, we would forget our lines ever so often. Mistaking this pause as a cue for her entry, Nirupama would barge out with a flour-smeared ladle or some other implement reciting her lines, only to be shooed back into the kitchen by our director. But before disappearing back in, she would whisper to us, "Come and taste whether the salt is enough."

Too glad to oblige, we would sneak in one by one, and forget all about the rehearsal in our new role as the tasters. Finding the hall empty, Sunandakka would burst into the kitchen angrily, only to end up as the best eater.

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