Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Raghu Kaka is no more.....

Only Y’day, I thought of ‘Raghu Kaka’ while reminiscing about the event of total Solar Eclipse. Today, I got the news that he is no more. Strange are the ways of the connection between the mind and the incident.

In late 80’s, I happened to meet Dr. Subramanium – a physician in the field of nuclear medicine at Hyderabad. He took an immediate liking for me. During the course of our discussions, he mentioned about the relatives from his wife’s side having surname ‘Pappu’. My being thoroughbred in Marathi with no connection with Andhra but having some link to Karnataka surprised him. He explained to me genesis of surname ‘pappu – a type of dal in Tamil. It seems, his wife’s relatives had come from Tanjore and subsequently settled in Andhra Pradesh. There are still many people with the surname ‘Pappu’ in AP. I have no idea how my grandfather came and settled in Hubli but my association with Kannada and Hubli began with Raghu Kaka and continued despite my being away from Hubli.

Few months ago, in my visit to Mumbai, I had a chance meeting with Raghu Kaka. He had come with his wife and his grand children. Age had mellowed his business enthusiasm but his keenness in knowing about my stay and visits in far away countries was palpable. In his hay days, his self-styled entrepreneurial business style had ensured expansion of, ‘Star Batteries’ from Opera house in Mumbai to ‘Venus Batteries’ in Hubli. Business based on honesty and openness made him a financially rich and a known man in Hubli’s automobile battery industry. His plan for backward integration by setting up of ‘plate manufacturing’ plant was ambitious but the very same personal traits that had catapulted him on the course of financial success could not transform his next generation kids to take his business to higher level. His devotion to his parents particularly to his mother was remarkable. She had almost single handedly brought him up and he ensured that he looked after her well until her last days. His spacious bungalow was named as ‘Matru Punya’. His staunch belief for vegetarian was also admirable. He would not eat at any restaurant where kitchen was used for cooking non-vegetarian.

During my last meeting with him, I asked him if he had any knowledge beyond Raghvendra Pappu, my great grand father. All he could remember from his mother was, my grandfather ‘Narayan’ was a small kid when his father ‘Raghvendra’ passed away. When this sad news was told to his wife - ‘Pachi’ , she was so distressed that she left her small baby in the field and decided to end her life. Soon, other villagers saved her and in subsequent days, they miraculously discovered ‘Narayan’ in the field and with that, ‘pappu’ generation continued their existence.

With Raghu Kaka's passing away, my last link with Hubli is gone. As the third generation settles in different continents, I wonder if there would be an initiative from any of them to reach for distant cousins settled in distant lands.

I think of many memories of his visits to Mumbai and talking to us in Marathi with heavy accent of Kannada language. His children could not speak Marathi and our only communication with them was in broken Hindi. With his grandchildren, it is now English. I feel sad that I could not master Konkani and Kannada language despite having a strong lineage from Goa, Belgaum and Hubli. It was ironical that everyone who came from these places to Mumbai easily and willingly adapted Marathi when there was no compulsion for them to do so.

It would be tough for his wife whose very existence was at the service of her husband. I do hope his children not just continue their father’s entrepreneurial business legacy but also emulate his devotion to his mother and look after their mother as well as he did with his.
My prayers for his soul to be rest in peace and for his family to recover from this tragic loss.



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