We shall now come to the next furthest object in the photo. The cottage with the bamboo screen on the front and the bicycle, to the right of the photograph.
This was the home of my father’s elder brother and his wife, my uncle and aunt. My uncle was then, the Garden Superintendent of The Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras. My aunt was then teaching at the Besant High School. She subsequently became quite a leading light of the TS and was much in demand as a speaker in their international centers.
In the photograph above, the lady in the left was my aunt and the other lady was my mother. The mosquitoes in the front are my younger brother Arvind on the left and me on the right. The Ford is now parked just in front of the cottage that I mentioned in the first paragraph.
Everyone in the TS used bicycles to move about and my uncle and aunt were no exception. Both used bicycles meant for ladies like this one on the left. My uncle too used this because he always wore dhoties and it was more convenient. You will understand it better with this picture of a man in a dhoti. Since it is not a photograph of my uncle, I have cut off the face!
Which brings me to my own connection with the TS and Besant School. About a couple of years after these photographs were taken, when I was 8 years old, my parents shifted to Bombay to attend to a health problem with a family member. There were no facilities to attend to that in Madras then. I was left with my uncle and aunt to see if the three of us were compatible as a group with the long term idea of my uncle adopting me. They were childless and did not plan to have any of their own. I stayed with them for a year and went to the Besant High School, and I too rode a bicycle to school and all over the TS. It was a very happy time for me in the sylvan location with many banian trees that allowed me and my two friends from neighbouring houses to play Tarzan to our hearts’ content. I had a remarkable class teacher who taught me mathematics with who I kept in touch till she died in the late nineties. My mother on her return to Madras after about a year had had enough of being without her firstborn and said nothing doing to the adoption idea and so I went back to my parents and siblings and changed schools to one closer to our then home in Madras. I remained attached to and in touch with my uncle and aunt and also to a maid servant that they had, till their last.
More soliloquy in the next post.