Brilliant Father

My father was very intelligent though he had not even passed 1st Std. I am no match for my father despite completing a law degree. He was fluent in Kannada and his literary command over Kannada made him a pundit of pundits. Those days, Dogra Poojary family members used to organise Yakshagana plays. They had their own troupe. Only after my father had screened the Prasangas, would they stage the Yakshagana prasangas for public.

I think I was in Class 6 or 7 then. As informed earlier, my father was fighting a case in court pertaining to his ancestral property. All court documents and statements of evidence were in English. After every hearing, my father used to explain to family members about details of the case and what had transpired in the court. He used to tell me: "Some lines have been marked in RED ink or blue ink by the lawyer on particular pages. This is pertaining to such and such matter. Please read and tell". I used to find the same matter on those pages. I was perplexed. How can a man, who has not even passed class one, understand such complex matters? I was and am still surprised by his intellect. How could he clearly recall such specific things as page number, line number etc even after passage of so many years of the case. This, without having the ability to read the matter, still boggles my mind. I have never seen such an intelligent person in my life yet. My intelligence was nothing compared to my father.

I had the habit of reading aloud in the verandah while preparing for the exams. Whenever I made a mistake, my father used to correct me saying you read this wrongly.

Though, we were poor, there was a great bonding and love amongst family members. Nothing could break our family. My younger brother was very fond of me. My brother and sisters could not continue their education beyond a point. My elder brother Krishnappa too could not study much and devoted his attention to take care of the family after my father's demise. He opened a small shop of photo frames 'Krishna frames' which still exists at Bhavanti street in Mangalore. My younger brother became an electrician and opened his own electrical shop. I was determined to pursue education and become an IAS officer.

CASTE DISCRIMINATION I was a child then. Most of the time, we used to walk from Bokkapatna to Marakadabail near Bolantur a distance of 17 miles. One day, on the way to Marakadabail, my father took me to a hotel near Pane Mangaluru for tea. The owner stopped us at the entrance and did not allow us in. As we stood outside, a person came out with two cups of tea. Cups used to be of coconut shells, then. My father did not accept it. We left the hotel without having tea.

I was around 10 or 12 years old. My brother Krishnappa used to manufacture mirrors for use in photo frames. Mirrors should be made using pure water. Informing me to fetch natural pure water from a temple, he used to give me 4 anna's and a big bottle. I used to play in 7 and 8 small ponds in the Kadri temple and after taking a bath would pray at the temple and bring back the water. One day, people in the mutt came to know that I am a Billava and they pulled me by my neck and threw me out of the temple. At that tender age, the humiliation of untouchability made a indelible scar in my little heart. I was very disturbed on why they threw me out. I immediately stopped going to that temple from that day onwards.

In a twist of fate, after I became a minister, the same temple administration invited me to the temple and gave me a rousing welcome accompanied by a musical band in front of a huge crowd.

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