My grandfather.

A digital letter my grandpa wrote for me. He’s written me a lot of letters over the years [like every month?] but I’ve never replied. Not that I’m being unfilial, I just hate writing letters; I can never think of the right things to say 😦 . Anyway, he’s written so many, but this one, this one that he handed to me personally, I’ll cherish forever.
Any text in parantheses are minor edits done by me. For the most part, this was typed by my grandfather personally.

Dear Ch SrivatsavSomething in my mind is urging me to leave about my parentage to you, so that it may be of use at a later date. Our family is called Vemula, which is a village in Pulichintala Taluq of Cuddapah district. My forefathers might have migrated to Madras some 350 years back. I do not know about Kodaganti, I will gather [that] information later.

[My] grandfather and his relatives should have moved to Bangalore in 1941 during World War II when the entire Madras [population] was evacuated to places away from it. In [those] fast moving days as at present, parents [did] not have time & mood to converse with their near and dear and hence many things may not be known at all to youngsters.

My father, Damodharam, [was] a school drop out at 5th standard and he studied in Telugu medium. In those days, Telugu was taught in all schools bordering present Tamil Nadu State, since prior to 1953 Andhra Pradesh [ceded districts of Anantapur, Chittoor, Nellore, Kurnool, Cuddapah and Circar districts of Guntur, Krishna district, West & East Godavari, Ganjam] was within Madras Presidency. My father should have [been] born in 1893. My mother hails from Dharmavaram family, a town in Anatapur District and might have [been] born in 1899.

My father should have lost his parents at [a] young age like me, and was brought [up] by his cousin sister, Aparanji Ammal or Govindammal. She was my father’s mother’s sister’s daughter. She married Bhujalinga Pather of Pikkapatti family. They had no issues and [so] should have decided to bring up my father, trained him in silversmith work and fixed a shop in Park town for his earning. They conducted the marriage of my father and kept them with them for their security in old age. My father had a bullock cart to go to his shop and used to participate in Rakela races conducted by SIAA in Moore market Grounds.

[My parents] should have got married in 1916. Their first girl child died soon after her birth. Second was my eldest sister, Thirupurasundari born in 1919. Third was my brother Lakshmiah born in 1923. Fourth was my younger sister, Kasturi alias Parvatha Vardhini born in 3/1926. I, [Vemula Janardhanam] was born to them in 1930.
All were living as homogenous family with no problem of whatsoever. My father used to be in house on Sundays & New Moon days. My mother was busy cooking up in kitchen from 5am to 10pm.

My uncle & aunt had sold away their property at Purasawakkam in the name of my father and mother in 1928. In May 1935, my uncle passed away. Within few days, my father too passed away at the age of 42 [out of grief]. Two bread winners in the family died leaving the ladies in deep trouble. My ill-literate mother at 36, [I consider her as Deergadharshini for having] put me in school and left my brother with Khalastri, her eldest sister’s son for training in goldsmith work.

She, with the help of Sriramulu, [brother of Khalastri], got my sisters married in 9/1940 with a loan amount of Rs1000/- drawn from Janopakara Saswatha Nidhi Fund office. I was put in Sir M Ct Muthiah Chettiar school in 5th standard. She died in October, 1941 at the age of 42, when I was 11. My aunt was supporting us. She too passed away in 11/1942. I was left with none to take care of me. My elder sister was away from Madras and younger sister was at Anakaputtur and had her own constraints in keeping me with her. My brother was already in somebody’s house. I was left with Sriramulu,
my cousin brother. His son Chakrapani, 6 yrs old died of scorpion sting in 1/1943, They felt that it was my misfortune that has caused their son’s death. So I have to move to [my] paternal aunt’s house at Purasawakkam. I stayed there for 4 years.

I used to take soapless bath at 0430 without hindering others. Many days [went by] with one meal a day. Nobody knew what I was studying, how I was studying [or even] where I was studying. I had devoted and committed teachers like Krishma Reddy, Shanmugam Pillai, S R Ramachandra Iyer, Muthu Iyer, M P Rajagoplan, and above all Gopalakrishna Iyer, [the] HeadMaster who taught with dynamism.

If you attend spellbound silen[t] classes with rapt attention and recall at leisure, you can never forget what is taught. I scored well in all subjects except English. This I should attribute Mars 4th lord & Jupiter 5th lord combination in 11th and its aspect on exalted Mercury in 2nd. So my 9th, 10th & 11th class studies went like that in glory. [Don’t bother with the astrological details if you don’t understand.]

My school days went off without a pair of [chappals – footwear]. Except for English & Tamil books, I [had] not bought any books. I was much helped by my classmate Shankar Rao, who too lost his father at a young age, with his books. His brother and sisters were very considerate towards me in giving shelter at times; they lived in Yemi Street, very close to my place of residence.

I lived with 3 pairs of clothes. You remember, I used to tell you about taking some [a few] games & sports because it was not within my reach. I used to take part in Heats but never taken part in games as it was the privilege of few affluent people. After school sports day, old sports articles like Hockey stick and inflated balls used to be auctioned. The purchase of hockey stick for Rs 1.50; that too was very dear to me to afford. The teams for Cricket, Hockey, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, are all reserved for affluent class of people and was not within [my] reach. On completing 11th standard, forces [were] for my discontinuance of my further studies.

The Principal of Pachaiyappa’s college, Sri B V Narayanaswamy Naidu who was living next to my school, helped me in admission into Intermediate in his Pachayappa’s College with full scholarship on the last day of submission of application to college admission. I came first in the Maths, Physics & Chemistry subjects. On completion, my classmate V M Ganapthy’s mother helped me in getting Engineering seat through her brother Thayumanaswamy, Dean [of] Madras Medical College & DMS who was attending on Sri Bhakthavatsalam, minister-in-charge [of] Education. Here too, with grace of God I got full residential scholarship for 4 yrs of my course. My college fees was Rs 216/- with special fees and hostel charges of Rs 40/-per month alone. Here again Shankar [Rao’s] brother’s classmate, another P Shankar Rao who was holding the post of Director of Harijan Welfare & Backward Classes,
had given Residential scholarship for my course in Engineering College for 4 years.

Here too I was helped by my friend Shankar Rao who has joined Engineering College, with his books. He used to get grant for books as well. The threat from my brother hanged on my head, that he will let me in the job of goldsmith if I fail[ed] in my course as he [could not] afford to meet my college expenses. I covered my engineering college days with four pairs of clothes a year. I should say, I sailed through my education career by sheer unknown extraneous factors of supreme God. None of my close relatives have known about my studies and how I fared in the college. That was my college days.

Soon, I got a job in Government Electricity Department immediately in 7/1953 in Andhra Pradesh Electricity Department at Rutlandgate, Nungambakkam. In 4/1954 I got an appointment in Madras Electricity Department and got posted to Mettur Dam. I got married in 5/1955 with my own fund of Rs 1600/- & odd when the Saturn aspected its natal position and when Jupiter was in exhaltation in Moon sign in Kendra to Moon.. The marriage was performed by my two brothers-in law while I was in Tiruvallur. In those days, grooms [had] to spend for their marriages unlike these days.

My starting pay at that time is Rs 150+34. In those days it was a luxury of getting this much salary as the starting salary of a clerk was Rs 30/- and that of an Upper diivision Clerk after 12 years of service was Rs 80/- and superintendent was Rs 120/- after another 10 years of service. My father-in-law got less than Rs200/- as pay at the time of retirement in 1962 & the pay of many [was] much less. But people were happy because the cost of living was cheap.

I had to move to Kancheepuram & Tindivanam on official transfers. My house was burgled while I was in Tindivanam in 3/1957 and I lost very little reserve of my savings & some jewels. I had to start from scrap again. I got my promotion in 9/1960 as Assistant Engineer (first level of Gazzetted post) with pay of Rs 260/ + DA. I got promoted in 5/1971 as Divisional Engineer with pay of Rs 600/- +DA. I was posted to Projects Division where I personally drafted the specification for manufacture and supply of 8 nos 15 MW Bulb Turbines (new version) and connected switchgears and other allied equipments. Global tenders were called upon and analyzed. The specific recommendation for complete equipments of Sumitomo Corporation, Japan for firm price offer for 40 crores were recommended for purchase. After lot of deliberations it was ordered in 1982. I got my promotion as Superintending Engineer with pay of 1440/ +DA. I was in Generation circle in charge of Mettur Group of hydro stations, Sholayar and Aliyar group of generating hydro stations. I was back to Project Construction and got the Barrage Power Houses works where all the Equipments ordered were under supply for erection. I had the privilege of seeing all of them positioned for operation. I saw their commissioning in 6/1987. I should feel proud something concrete has been created in my life and it is a perpetual monument to boast off.

As SE generation of Hydro Stations I had the opportunity of attending very important maintenance work in all the power houses which was very rare to come across. Meanwhile I got promotion as Chief Engineer in 2/1987 with pay of 4225/ + DA. From the above it could be seen that my life was hand to mouth existence. I should say that my uplift is purely due to ancestral property background. It had its own play.
[Some personal message] This is to know how one’s younger days have gone by. Thanks.

No grandpa. Thank you.


About this entry