Gollapudui: Bifurcated Memories, The squabbles consequent to the bifurcation of the state are not only going to be trivial but occasionally irksome.
The squabbles consequent to the bifurcation of the state are not only going to be trivial but occasionally irksome. If my memory serves me right, after the bifurcation of our country, a girl’s school was situated in the neighbouring country. She used to travel to the other country to pursue her studies and knowing her predicament, the country officials provided her security and used to accompany her to her country each day. And a woman's parents house existed in the other country! As for me, the best of my memories are in the neighbouring state -Telangana. My good friends, my early job, my early career experiences are there. And importantly, the best memories of my life are in Telangana. I was married at Hanamkonda 53 years back; eminent stalwarts like Kaloji Narayana Rao attended my marriage. For the first time, I understood the corruption of the spelling of Hanumakonda as Hanamkonda, after a long travail. All my children were born in Hanamkonda. How can I forget the sad demise of our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, when I recorded P V Narasimha Rao, the then Minister for Information and Public Relations. I used to occasionally visit his house at Hyderguda. If my memory serves me right, and I never stopped visiting him until his last days after his retirement as Prime Minister at his Delhi residence. It was he who inspired me to write my autobiography, giving me a copy of his "Insider".
When I visited Hyderabad some 62 years back, there was no city after Panjagutta and Srinagar Colony. In fact, there was no Srinagar Colony then. I was staying at my childhood friend's house. Even now I can vividly recollect jackals howling even before 6 pm. The annual event of Industrial Exhibition at Gandhi Grounds was fun and frolic for my kids and they used to have a field day, while we used to sit on a bench savouring hot samosas. And the tasteful Irani Chai in a shabby looking joint at the corner of Himayat Nagar! Telangana country folk were very friendly and patronising and they instantly would own up my wife as their daughter and say: “maa porini chesukunnav bidda, manchiga choosuko''. It was always a touching greeting by one and all. We used to feel Hyderabad was one big family and we walked in to share their space.
We had the great taste of regional poetry, thanks to my two good friends - Dasaradhi and C Narayana Reddi, who visited Andhra University during Winter Festivals in 1956 and treated us to their lofty poetry recitals with rich, vibrant voices. Modukuri Johnson, Kolakaluri Enoch, Kondamudi Sriramachandra Murthi and a host of other writers emerged from the portals of the university, generously exposed to the lilting poetry of these two poets.
‘Matladani mallemogga maadiriga nadachira Nissabdham eruganatti nimnagavale vidichipo’
And my first brush with cinema. Dasaradhi brought Dukkipati Madhusudanarao, managing director of Annapurna Pictures, to meet me at a small improvised car shed that was my home on Gagan Mahal Road and dragged me into an activity- film writing, of which I had no idea whatsoever. We used to sit at Taj Mahal Hotel at Abids for our daily discussions when we were occasionally greeted by the then Osmania University student leader Jaipal Reddy and of course the owner of Taj Group of Hotels, whose name I fail to recollect. Those were the days when my life took a steep turn and I was floating on cloud nine, refusing to come down at all.
Hyderabad winters were particularly chill in those days, and mirchi bajji at the entrance of Public Gardens was always a veritable treat. My wife and I would walk to the Tank Bund with a six-month-old child in our hands (he is now 53!), and sit there and gossip. My wife was the only audience while I used to pour out my dreams to her who entered my life only 14 months earlier. As a reward, I used to take her to the middle of the Tank Bund, where a small makeshift bunk would be there serving hot Brooke Bond Tea.
Our sporadic ritual in the evenings used to be a trip to Koti with children, do pavement shopping very leisurely, purchasing mostly unwanted trivia and walk to Sultan Bazar. We would then take a cycle-rickshaw back home to Barkatpura, with my two children squatting before us at the leg space. They are one year apart –our joke used to be to tap their heads and identify themselves as "Subbu'' and "kittu''. They are the most private, precious pleasures of middle class life.
I never could differentiate a Hindu from a Muslim in those days as both used to speak Telugu with Urdu slant - and their camaraderie and warmth was total and all-pervading. They were docile people who led their lives in peace and harmony.
I used to purchase cakes from an Irani Cafe on my way home after drawing the salary on the 1st of every month and my children and wife used to wait for the treat. Eventually, the Cafe owner became patronising and used to add a couple of cakes, which was a bounty for a man whose monthly salary was 207 rupees.
I was working in All India Radio then. The Sarangi recital by one staff artiste Javed (I don’t really remember his name) and Tabla by G M Khan (I vividly remember him, for a different reason) was Greek and Latin to me. I was Duty Officer at All India Radio and was in charge of Radio Station outside the office hours. I could not converse with these masters of their respective disciplines. But one early morning, a money-lender came in search of G M Khan, who owed him a lot of money. Khan ran into the studios. This money-lender demanded that he be called out. I refused and stood my ground. After a long squabble, this money-lender left, cursing me in Urdu. Khan was all humility when he profusely thanked me for the help in chaste Urdu, and I could not understand even a single word. But it made me proud to help an artiste save his dignity. Eventually, I was told he left for Pakistan and settled there. I don’t care if a part of the land has been bifurcated as Telangana for whatever reasons, but it is an integral part of my psyche and I cherish those memories to this day.