[Editor’s Note: My mother, a late adopter of the Internet, used to write the loveliest of letters to her children pre-Internet era. The letters stopped after I returned to India. In the past few years, after she got comfortable with Internet and gmail, the letters resumed as emails to her children. After an extended hiatus, she shared this story from 1959. Her Ooty childhood friend had sent recent pictures of Ooty Governor’s Bungalow & Botanical Gardens which triggered a wash of memories – one of which is shared below. In the undivided Madras State (which included Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and parts of Kerala), Ooty was home to the state Governor’s official residence.]
My thoughts went back to 1959 we were in 1st year of college PUC [11th grade for us modern era kids]. One girl named Subhadra had newly joined commerce stream. She came from Chittoor [the town in Andhra, not Rajasthan]. Her father was a lawyer. In Ooty, she was staying with her elder sister and brother-in-law. He was working in the governor’s palace, maybe as administration staff. She was an Iyengar girl but spoke Telugu very well. She became friendly with Prema [my mother’s best friend] and me. One afternoon she took all of us to her sister’s house for lunch. Governor’s Palace was situated far inside the Botanical Gardens; staff quarters were nearby. After meeting her sister she took us around the governor’s place [now called Raj Bhavan]. Her brother-in-law showed us all the rooms and the grand ballroom! It was a great experience. The governor would stay here every summer. Flag hoisting used to take place every morning with military band during his stay.
She was in our college only for one year. We walked into class one day and saw “Subhadra is a horse” written on the black board. She cried like anything. She said she would bring her brother-in-law to college, etc. She went to the principal to complain. All of us went with her as support. After hearing her out patiently, he didn’t say anything but we could notice a small smile. So that was the flash back.
[Closing note: It was a co-ed college so it was obviously a specimen of the male species who perpetrated this dastardly act. I asked my mother if her features were remotely equine and her reply “Not really.. but she was a tall girl”.