I was sipping the evening tea and the sun was about to go down. I was in the side yard. Clank, clank........ clank, clank...... I went to check who was clanking the latch on our metal gate. An old man was peeping through the narrow rectangular peep-hole hoping someone heard his clanks. The spacious open yard makes first time visitors guess the presence of a dog and hence they use the clank-wait-enter method. Before he decided to enter, I was inquiring him after opening the gate.
"Is this K.M.Subba Rao's house?" he asked. I was happy someone was remembering my grandfather who left us in 1976. I said 'Yes' when he asked if I was Ramu's son. The small-built man's face expressed a little delight. I answered his next question with another 'yes' and he came up with a list of my relatives with whom I had lived but he had disconnected before I had arrived.
I invited him in. He introduced himself as a person who knew the family and who used to visit here in the 1940s and later in the 1950s when my grandfather had shifted to another house, before he moved to Bangalore for greener pastures - in the Courts at Bangalore. He had retired 32 years ago serving a long time and had moved [back] to Mysore 4 years ago.
Our house is 102 years old. He was aware from other sources that Subba Rao's descendants were continuing to live here. So he had decided to stop by, getting down from a bus in which he was traveling, just to relive some old memories.
He appeared to be a man with a clear memory, even as ancient as 60-65 years. Old memories of such antiquity seemed to flow freely, with a touch of emotion. He had attended the wedding of my parents and recalled my grandmother presenting him with a small 'tiffin box' to carry lunch to his college [Sarada Vilas College where he was in the first batch when the college was started]. It took a long time to start drinking his tea because he was enjoying his time machine ride, backwards. I was in it too and still sipping my tea and enjoying the nostalgia, even when I was not part of his memories.
He used to teach school lessons to my late paternal aunt. This he reminisced quite emotionally saying that the fee was five rupees but it was not the amount that mattered to him, it was the affection and kindness that was all over the home that counted. "Those were such good days, such good people and such fine attitudes and atmospheres in homes." "What a fine lady your grandmother was!" As more fond memories rolled by, he could not control his emotions. An emotional lump had formed in his throat and tears had filled his eyes. He could not speak for a few seconds. He was feeling the "good old times" he had been part of, in this very house was coming up again. He got up saying he would take leave.
His name was Pattabhi which my mother recalled. He had known the changes, developments and divisions that took place in the family in the past decade and there was an urge to visit this place. So he had got down from the bus in front of our house. As he was leaving, he showed a place in the veranda where he used to sit with other members in those times.
The active octogenarian blessed us and left refusing my offer to give a lift on my scooter back to his house, saying that he lived in far Srirampura and he would get plenty of buses here. I hope he will accede to my offer to visit again more leisurely to share more memories of that beautiful bygone era so that I can 'nostalgiate'.
He felt very happy to have met us even though we were new to him. We felt honoured by this surprise visit of a humble teacher.