Friday, November 23, 2012

Emotional letters of 1918

Old letters are fascinating to read. It takes us back in time. Many of them have survived with us from 3 generations due to the fact that an old almirah lay locked for 25 years after the house shift in 1950.  I used my spare time to open that and see its contents.  My interest in stamp collecting took me to this 'dusty treasure house'.  Among old books and various other brittle papers I got to find umpteen letters from around 1890 onward bundled up.   In the bargain, I found quite a few postage stamps too on those envelopes.  I carefully opened a few letters in their little envelopes to read them.  It took me back in the time machine.  The language was stunningly simple and beautiful, no fancy words or nothing unnecessary.  All straight to the point.  

Long later, I was reading more carefully and enjoying them.  Some were written and mailed by others to my great grandfather, Mylar Rao who was posted out of Mysore on his govt. job.  His elder brother frequently wrote to him to update on their family matters.  I came to know how much struggle they had to put in to sustain their families. There were various post cards, picture post cards, greeting cards, cards from the Palace, etc.  It was a paper treasure!

Among those letters were a few of them esp. by one C.Srikantia, who was my great grandfather's son-in-law, married to Thungamma in about 1918.  Their wedded life was cut very short by Fate as illness had taken Thungamma away.  When I got to read esp. one letter written by Srikantia to his father-in-law, it was a moving experience.  All his true emotions and deep feelings from his heart is poured on to paper about how he missed his beloved wife.  The way he does it and in such clarity is simply astonishing. 

When my young blogger friend Lakshmi Bharadwaj, already an author of a couple of books, [click to read her post] visited us recently, I had mentioned about it since she loves old things esp. those 'readable' ones.  She was so very impressed by the whole 'picture' from 1918 that she blogged about it.  Click to enlarge and read Srikantia's letter - 4 pages.  One more page has gone missing.  I will not write in detail about its content because Lakshmi has done it beautifully in her own inimitable style that only she can. 





Again he wrote in 1919 how he felt... just in passing this time - notice the first line in page 2. 



Then there are two particular letters about the same tragedy sympathizing my great grandfather about his bereavement.  One was from the Dewan of Mysore.  


The other was from the Yuvaraja [Crown Prince] Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the brother of the Mysore King.  He sympathizes giving examples from the "Gita" and a quote from Tennyson. 





I will reproduce it here because it is definitely worth a read:

26.10.1918, on his Mysore Palace letterhead.
My dear Mr.Mylar Rao, I am deeply grieved to hear of the very sad bereavements in your family.  Indeed, how very true it is that misfortune never comes singly.  You have been no doubt hit very hard by the cruel hand of Fate and I sincerely pray to Him to give you the strength wherewithal to bear this severe blow. 
May I not remind you of what our all consoling "Gita" has for us on such occasions.  "For certain death e'er dogs the born, and certain death e'er dogs the dead.  Hence about that which none escapes it is not fit that though ___?__ grieve."  And also Tennyson says, "That man may rise on stepping stones of their deadselves to higher things."  These words are all I think is true as they are consoling and why should you not hope that your departed ones have faced the inevitable end earlier only to rise against the higher?  Let us have trust in the All Benign and pray fervently and you know what forces thoughts are and how very likely they are to materialize.
Believe me, Yours in sympathy, KNR Wadiyar.

~~~~

It reveals that Thungamma was a very able, knowledgeable and a very affcetionate young lady and that how much everyone liked.   Srikantia was a Professor of Chemistry, who did his studies in Zurich, Switzerland and then went to Japan for further studies around 1925-30.  He was a great buddy with my grand father as they were of nearly the same age. His letters from Zurich to him are beautiful to read too. Srikantia later thought of an 'Endowment Fund' in Thungamma's name in the Mysore University.  I know not what happened later.  After losing Thungamma, he later married again and had an daughter.  All the three are in this picture [from a family picture].  The two other ladies [left] were our tenants.


Srikantia died in the early 1960s and I have a clear memory of visiting as a little fellow to pay last respects [along with my grandfather].  Our family was in touch with his wife and only daughter until they lived.  Many of the toys of that time [1930s], were given to us and they still adorn important places in our show case. 


A picture he sent from Japan of himself with friends.


A studio photo of the 'just married' couple.  


This portrait photo of Late Thungamma was given away to his acquaintances in 1919. 

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