MARRIAGE OF MY FIRST DAUGHTER
During 1983 we had been trying for a suitable match for our first daughter. She had completed her B.A. and was already around 23 years. One problem in finding a suitable match was the star ashlesha under which she was born. Girls born under this star were not accepted in our community unless the boy had only one or no surviving parent. So our search for a suitable boy was restricted to cases where the boy had only one parent or no parent at all. We had already faced a couple of negative responses where both the parents of the boy were alive. One boy with whose family we had been corresponding had only the mother surviving. So there was no objection to the Ashlesha star. That was why we were anxious to finalise this marriage. The boy’s family was not committing themselves to an ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ . We wrote to my wife’s aunt( i.e. her mother’s younger sister) who knew the family. She talked to them and conveyed to us that they were willing to proceed with the proposal. The boy’s mother was a devotee of Sai Baba and was an active member. She was attending a gathering of children at Puttaparthy as a volunteer and was in charge of a group of children coming from Delhi to attend the Children’s Day celebrations at Puttaparthi on the 25th of December 1983. I was asked to come to Puttaparthy and meet with her so that the marriage proposal could be finalised. But the gathering at Puttaparthy was so large, running into tens of thousands of children and elders accompanying them, that it was impossible to meet the boy’s mother. There were separate enclosures for ladies where men were not allowed. I was a complete outsider without any badge or other symbol of being a participant. I spent the night there and the next morning I went back to Bangalore. I wrote my experience to the boy’s mother. Finally they agreed that the boy will see the girl at Delhi. My wife and daughter travelled to Delhi and stayed at my wife’s aunt’s house at Connaught Place. The boy and girl saw each other and both nodded their consent. After a month or so a simple engagement ceremony was held at the residence of an uncle of the boy at Madras. The marriage, it was decided, would be solemnised in May 1984.
In 1983 my first son was engaged to the grand daughter of a gentleman who was an Accounts Officer in HEC. He was in the diagonally opposite house at Ranchi and on a few occasions had helped me with money which, of course, I repaid at the earliest opportunity. It was an arranged marriage. Those days my son was attending evening classes at XLRI, Jamshedpur for his MBA. He did not want to get married before he wrote the exams. He secured the second position in the Exams and the company reimbursed the fees he had paid. The marriage was celebrated in April 1984 at Madras. We were returning by the Madras-Bangalore Express. It was around 8.30 PM when the train reached Bangalore East Station. My wife’s aunt, who was with us, wanted to get down at this station. She was expecting her husband at the station to receive her. The train was long but the platform was short. Our coach was outside the platform and I had to use the wooden steps attached to the side of the coach to get down to ground level. I looked for the aunt’s husband on the platform but could not spot him. I then got up the steps to get into the coach. I had put my right foot inside the coach. My left foot was on one of the steps which was below the platform level. Suddenly the train started moving and, before I could realise it, my left leg was caught in the narrow space between the platform and the coach. I could hear the bones of the leg cracking but I did not experience much pain. Hearing my shouts, my sister-in-law had the presence of mind to pull the emergency chain. The train stopped. I was lifted and carried to a nearby clinic where they refused admission as it was an accident case. By this time the aunt’s husband had also come. I was admitted in the Bowring Hospital where they gave some first aid. Next morning my colleagues from ITI came to see me and shifted me to a private nursing home at Basavangudi. The orthopaedic surgeon who examined me said that both the bones had fractured. Since infection had set in, nothing could be done until the wound healed. My whole left leg up to the thighs was put in a plaster cast with a window cut at the site of the injury for daily dressing of the wound.
That night my wife had a tough time handling the situation. One family who had come with us to the marriage helped with their van to shift things from the railway station to our house. All arrangements had been made to celebrate our first daughter’s marriage in May 1984. It was impossible for me to get back on my feet in such a short time. I told my wife to proceed with the marriage arrangements like printing invitations, sending the invitations to friends and relatives, arrange a caterer for cooking food etc. The venue had already been booked before we left for Madras for the son’s marriage . My cousin and his wife performed the rites for my daughter’s marriage since I couldn’t do it.
The hospital did not provide food for the patients. Morning and evening snacks and coffee could be had from the canteen but lunch and dinner had to come from home which was 15 Km away. My wife was busy with the arrangements for my daughter’s marriage. My younger son or one of the boys, Nari or Suri, from the opposite household would bring lunch and dinner. They used to come by a two-wheeler. Reaching the place by bus meant boarding two buses with waiting time for each. There was no direct service from our place to the hospital. On one occasion my second daughter rode pillion on the two-wheeler of my son who was bringing me lunch. She had dozed off and fallen from the pillion and had sustained injury on her head. Somehow my son managed to bring her to the nursing home where the wound was cleaned, stitched and dressed. It was a busy road and only the protective hands of the Lord had averted any accident while she fell on the road from the two wheeler.
I had been in the nursing home for 8 weeks by then and I had no occasion to leave the hospital. The surgeon gave me permission to attend the marriage. In addition to the marriage hall we had also arranged accommodation in an adjacent hostel for the bridegroom’s party. I was to be shifted by ambulance to this hostel where my daughter and her husband could come and see me after the marriage ceremony. When I came out of the hospital in the Ambulance and looked out of the window at the trees, plants, flowers, the Sun, the greenery etc I was struck by their beauty. It was as if I were looking at them for the first time. I had missed them for almost two months as I was not having a bed near a window at the nursing home.
After eight weeks there was no improvement. The two ends of the bones had not joined. The leg was plastered up for another 8 weeks. After the expiry of that period, when there was no improvement, the bones were joined using stainless steel plates and screws. After another 8 weeks the plaster was removed and I was asked to wear specially made callipers. It took me almost ten months after my surgery to walk without any help. It was then the turn of physiotherapy. My left knee would not bend as the legs had been put in a plaster cast up to the thighs. I had to swing my legs sitting on a table, ride a stationary cycle, lie on the floor face down and lift my leg up and bend it with my hand close to the back of my thigh etc. Finally the knee relented and I was able to sit cross-legged on the floor. It was an occasion to rejoice.
In one sense the accident was a blessing in disguise. The long hours I spent reading the Gita, Bhagavatam, Vishnusahasranama, the Upanishads or some scriptural or philosophical texts. I finished reading the whole text of Bhagavata with 18000 slokas and Valmiki Ramayana containing 24000 slokas. I alphabetically arranged the thousand names of Vishnusahasranama and identified names which were occurring more than once. Someone must have already done this. I did this just to pass my time. When one of the names occurs more than once it should not be considered as a repetition because the meaning was different though the name was the same. This is how Sankara justified the repetition in his commentary. I had the text of the Bhagavatam from my days in Madras in the 1950’s and, in a span of more than 30 years, I had never had a chance to read the entire text. In fact I used to read my favourite episodes on Dhruva, Prahlada, Ambarisha, Sudama (Kuchela) and the descent of Krishna in the tenth skandha (canto). I read also the Narayaneeyam in which Meppathur Bhattathiri had given the essence of Bhagavata in 1000 slokas of unparalleled poetic beauty. In all these texts I could follow the Sanskrit language, the general import of it, if not to the letter.
While I was in the nursing home a few officers were sent to France for training on computer systems meant for the Mankapur factory of ITI. This plant was being set up by ITI in collaboration with Al Catel of France for the manufacture of electronic exchanges. Had I been not hospitalised I would have got the opportunity but I would have been bound to serve ITI for five years or so. Therefore, the accident was a blessing in disguise in this context. I could resign from ITI when I got an opportunity to join Kudremukh Iron Ore company Limited as Joint Controller of Finance & Accounts at Kudremukh
In the beginning of January 1985, I resumed my duties at ITI. Since I had exhausted my leave I had to take medical leave with half pay for a few months and then leave without pay for the remaining months of my hospitalisation. A few months thereafter my first daughter gave birth to her first child, a baby girl at the Baptist Hospital, Bangalore. At birth the child seemed to be quite healthy and normal but two days later some complications developed. We were told by the doctor that there was a block in the intestines and it should be surgically removed. The operation was successful but the child did not survive the surgery. It was my father-in-law’s brother who buried the 3 days old child. My daughter could not control her tears. My wife had to bear the sorrow of losing her first child. The same thing had happened to her first daughter also. It was the will of God, we had to accept it. However, my son-in-law’s family blamed us saying that we had not taken proper care of the mother and the child
About the same time there was an advertisement in the newspapers for the post of Jt. Controller of Finance and Accounts at Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited, Kudremukh. Mr. Rao was Chairman and Managing Director in that company. I asked him by phone whether I should apply for the post. He replied in the affirmative. I forwarded the application through proper channel in ITI. I was interviewed and selected for the job. Before my joining KIOCL, in December 1985 I was promoted as Chief Finance Manager in ITI. I had, however, committed myself to accept the post of JCFA in KIOCL.
In the mean time I got an anonymous postcard from Kudremukh saying that I was treading over the heads of others and I should not join KIOCL. Some one who was aspiring for this post must have written that. I did not pay much heed to the letter. I resigned my job in ITI and joined Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited at Kudremukh in January 1986 as Joint Controller of Finance and Accounts.