My Childhood

27TH April 1937 I was Born to Jarappa Poojary and Chennamma couple in a rented house in Boloor near Bokkapatna school. My father's first wife had expired and he married my mother who gave birth to 7 children. Eight siblings including My elder brother (from earlier wedlock) lived together in a rented two-room house in Ismail Saheb's chawl.

Both of my parents walked their way to work at Krishna Mill compound near the Bandar(port) area in Mangalore. Today, most people would not even think of walking that distance. Despite poverty and difficulties, we were a happy joint family with strong bonding.

Our parents' income was meager and insufficient to make both ends meet. Getting two meals a day was a luxury. I had just one shirt and a half-pant. Most of the times, I went to school wearing only the half pant. School used to start at morning and end at evening. While returning from school, we used to get very hungry. We used to pluck mangoes and tamarind from nearby trees and eat them with water. That was our food. Those days tea, coffee, breakfast etc were unheard of in our family. I used to have a very good aim and I used to bring down fruits with stones.

Our chawl had houses of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. We all lived in harmony by helping and respecting each other. We, children were obedient and we did not trouble our parents. After our parents went to work, my elder sister Kamala, would take care of all of us giving bath to all the children, cooking food for us and keeping the house neat and tidy.

I was about 9 to 10 years old when my father met with an accident. My father was cleaning the engine after shutting the machine when another colleague without knowing that the machine was being cleaned, switched on the machine. My father lost his fingers and was admitted to Wenlock Hospital. At the same time, me and my siblings also fell sick. Doctors diagnosed that we were suffering from typhoid. We too were admitted to the same hospital. After treatment, we were discharged while father was still in the hospital. He was very much concerned about the loss of his fingers and it's effect on livelihood.

I was good in studies and I was equally good in sports. Towards evening, the school used to allow us to play. I used to run the fastest in the school. One day I was running in the ground after school hours when a glass piece pierced my feet leading to heavy blood loss. My teachers and friends took me to our house which was next to the school compound. My father had been discharged from the hospital the same day. After seeing the blood oozing out my leg he could not control himself. With his left hand, he landed a big thump on by back. My teachers were shocked and scolded him saying that I was already bearing pain of the wound and on top of it, he had beaten me. He silently went inside our house. That was the only time he had beat me in my life.

My teacher took me to a nearby clinic and I came home with a bandage on my feet. My father was filled with remorse and I heard him saying tearfully to my mother that he could not control himself when he saw me wounded after having been released from the hospital. I was moved by his concern.

My parents were very fond of me and they had pinned big hopes on me and my younger brother Vijay.

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