I continued to play the school game in my adult life too
Her enduring love for children is indeed a legacy passed on to her from her father late Panje Mangesh Rao, father of modern Kannada and Konkani children's literature. The wife of Raja Rameshwar Rao of Wanaparti, princely state under Nizam state, she continues to be a beloved teacher and mentor A The marks in my progress report which I had to take home and get signed � what could I do about those? One digit marks, and little red lines all over the smooth, white face of my progress report. Was I failing my parents and my family? I wanted to die. I was eleven years old and I wanted to commit suicide! "I remember that I always wanted to have a school of my own. I often played 'school- school'. As I played it, the make believe game became very real. I know, of course, that almost all children play this game. Role- play, as it is called. Often other children would join me and I would be the teacher. Even better than being teacher or student was to be the official bell-ringer, and I was delighted when my mother gave me a little brass bell to ring. When there was no one else to play with, I would round up all my toys to be students. They would spring to life and I would be teacher and reward them for good behaviour and punish them for them for bad behaviour.When I was ten years old, something happened in my life that caused a sort of explosion inside me. My parents wound up our life in Mangalore and there was a major change in my world. Today the change would have been called 'traumatic,' but in 1934 we didn't know that word implied. The move shook me to my very depths: my parents and I left our Mangalore home with its sea breeze and coconut palms, its hills and winding mud roads, its churches and temples and bhoota shrines set among paddy fields, and went to Patna in far away Bihar, where I was sent to a new, an entirely different kind of school. I had walked barefoot to the convent in Mangalore and like me the children I sat with were not smartly dressed. We spoke little or no English. The school in Patna was very different. It was a 'smart' school, what we would today call 'elitist'. The children wore polished leather shoes and socks, and neatly starched uniforms with belts and ties. From the beginning, I simply did not fit in. I remember the blisters on my heels and toes where my shoes pinched. I remember the struggle to be like them, to talk like them, to eat the kind of food they ate, to be accepted by them. The marks in my progress report which I had to take home and get signed � what could I do about those? One digit marks, and little red lines all over the smooth, white face of my progress report. Was I failing my parents and my family? I wanted to die. I was eleven years old and I wanted to commit suicide! But, it was my barely illiterate, simple-hearted mother who saved me during those terrible times. The other person who saved me was the principal of my school � the kind and good Sister Josepha. We left Patna soon and came to Hyderabad. I was admitted into Most Holy Rosary Convent, which was infinitely better for me, as I found the right peer group. When I graduated from Isabella Thoburn college (Lucknow), a college which I loved deeply, I was at the end of my teens and armed with BA. My father, Panje Mangesh Rao, is considered the father of modern Kannada and Konkani short story, essay-form and pioneer of children's songs, which continue to regale millions of kids in Kannada primary classes. He used to tell me many stories and sowed the seeds of love for books. Later, it was my reading, whatever came my way, Tolstoy, Maugham, HG Wells, Shakespeare, Tagore, Russell etc that led me to the realisation that school had actually robbed me of the sky and earth. The school game, I was referring to, was the game we all played. I think, not many people continued to play the same game into their adult life. But, I continued and the result has been � Vidyaranya.