«Edited by Govindjee Urbana, Illinois, USA and Shyam Lal Srivastava Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India i The Cover A photograph of Krishnaji (Dada), 1980 ...»
son: Sunil Chandra (Sunil’s wife: Elfi Chandra; son: Rowan);
and daughter: Neera*
2. Elder son: Deep Ranjan* (Deepak); wife: Madhulika (Madhu);
son: Soubhagya Deep (Monu); and daughter: Priyanka (Pinki)
3. Younger son: Raj Ranjan* (Ranjan); wife: Purnima (Poonam);
daughter: Tanima; and son: Sanket
4. Youngest daughter: Chitra Kumar; husband: Satyendra Kumar;
daughters: Garima; Tripti; and Shruti; Harbinder Barring (husband of Garima) Gopalji and Nirmala
1. Eldest daughter: Manju Saxena*; husband: Randhir Saxena;
sons: Rajya Ashish*; and Rajya Vishesh*
2. Middle daughter: Rita Shekhar; husband: Shekhar Sinha;
daughter: Nandini (Ninni); Tanu Bhatnagar (husband of Nandini;
daughter: Aanika); and son: Nitin
3. Youngest daughter: Ila Varma; husband: Avinash Varma;
daughter: Isha Malati Sahay and Radha Krishna Sahay
1. Eldest daughter: Anju Okhandiar; husband: Ashok Okhandiar;
daughters: Neha; Richa; and Ambika; David Philip Gunn (husband of Neha)
2. Elder son: Anshu Sahay; ex-wife: Manisha; sons: Tanmay; and Mayank
3. Younger son: Anupam (Anat) Sahay; wife: Shilpi Sahay; sons:
Anav; and Apurv Govindjee and Rajni
1. Daughter: Anita Govindjee (Christiansen); husband: Morten Christiansen; daughter: Sunita
2. Son: Sanjay Govindjee; wife: Marilyn Govindjee; sons: Arjun;
D ada, my brother Professor Krishnaji, left us a decade back. I lost not only my brother but a friend, a philosopher and a guide; I felt rudderless since he had guided our lives as kids, as adults, and even in my retired life. He kept track of every member of the family, including my 3 children since they were born. He followed their progress during their school days, when they were growing and even after they were married. A vacuum was created after his death in 1997, which is difficult to fill; there is no one to run to for advice in normal and difficult situations. His appreciative smile or stern look gave away his Yes or No on matters of our interest; thus, we followed him meticulously without hesitation and our lives sailed smoothly.
He was a Prince among us, a glittering symbol of values that helped us to shape ourselves in our individual professions. A simple expression by our cousins during his lifetime “We wish we had a brother like Dada” shows how well he was regarded in the extended family.
Prof. Krishnaji started his career as a teacher of Physics at Allahabad University- an institution of legendary repute- after completing his Master’s Degree (MSc) in first division. He distinguished himself as a great teacher, research scholar and a perfect human being. He carried a magnetic aura around himself. The students, researchers and colleagues who came in his close contact exuded love, affection and regard for him. One of his students, Prabhat Kumar, who was later a Cabinet Secretary in the Government of India told me “I first used to sit in the front bench of his class. His lectures were lucid, and clear on very difficult and complicated subject. I felt it was a piece of cake, but when writing it down at home I found I should have raised questions during the lecture. I then decided to be a backbencher in order to be away from his personal magnetic influence, which helped me to be a better student, raising doubts and learning the fine nuances of the subject...” I do not know if this was a compliment or otherwise, but proved to me the existence of Dada’s personal aura. His metal as a great teacher and a scholar is established throughout India and abroad, where his students are spread out fulfilling their dreams of success. (See Part A of tributes to Dada.) Remembering Dada in bits and pieces is a great task for me as when I close my tearful eyes, the full gamut and spectrum of our lives together flashes before me like a fast movie, in spite of failing memory of an eighty three year old man. As the memory lane is very crowded, my efforts to pick up the threads for presentation to you may not be perfect. What follows is not a chronological account, but I weave in and out as thoughts come and go.
When we were children Way back when I was probably a four year old kid, and Dada was nearly nine year old, we thought of playing a ball game. At the ends of our verandah, we started rolling a tennis ball to each other, sitting in a not-so-normal posture. We went down facing the wall and threw the ball to the other end between the legs to be caught by the other person in the same posture and repeated the process. If the ball rolled straight, it was caught and thrown back; after a couple of rolls, my ball went skew and Dada tried to catch it bent in the same way, but he slipped on his right shoulder. He was hurt; he broke his collarbone, and was in pain. I rushed to our mother (Amma)2; the servants, realizing the seriousness, took Dada to a doctor for bandage with a splinter wood. I knew it was my fault and was very apologetic, but he took the blame accepting it as his carelessness. Dada’s forgiving nature was etched in my psyche from that early period of our lives.
Dada used to entertain us to keep us happy under all circumstances as a leader of the small group of four (that included Malati, my younger sister, and Govindjee, my younger brother). Once we were living in a first floor apartment in a crowded locality. Our outings were, thus, restricted. Dada devised a game to make us feel as if we were traveling around India. An iron chair was brought in the hall and turned over on the floor with its seat vertical and its back horizontal, providing sitting space for the driver and cross bars with a pillow for the passenger. He would make one of us a passenger and himself a driver selling tickets and turning the chair around taking the vehicle to Delhi, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkota) and back to Allahabad while some one at the halt called out as a hawker of tea and snacks in a local dialect (Chai Garam, Ubla Anda, Jhalmuri); so we all had fun together with our leader Dada.
When we were a bit older we were allowed to go to the movies with Dada as our chaperon. The first movie I saw was “Achhut Kanya” with Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani in leading roles. Instructions were clear as to where to sit so that one could come out prior to the rush of the people at the Exit, avoiding any stampede. Such was our protective and caring Dada from day one.
Amma2 used to change houses on the slightest pretext, say when any member of the family remained sick for a long period or some piece of gold was stolen. Once we landed at a place, where a railway track passed by with resulting noise at regular intervals of the rolling of wagons and engines. We all were cribbing about the choice of the house, cursing the discovery of loss of gold jewelry. Dada would then tell us a joke (not meant to offend anyone): “Listen: a Sardarji had similarly decided to rent a house by the side of a railway track.
He was told by the owner of the house that the railway track was the only defect of the place; however, after a few days there would be no problem to anyone, Sardarji paid the advance money, saying I will come back and live after a few days.” The joke at first slipped over our heads, but soon we started laughing and forgot our complaint.
Later I realized that Dada remained cool under all situations: no complaints in life. One of his students who attended his seminars some forty years ago was remembering him as a “Smiling Buddha” answering queries with unusual discipline in the gathering. He was a happy man, radiating good will for all around him, encouraging individuals to achieve excellence in the field of their specific interest (even a game of cricket in a class of Physics).
School and College Days Talking of games during school and college days, Dada and I played badminton. Going to the school field was not easy; when we would return from the premises, we would find an open space and create our own court – a task in itself. Dada had a senior friend who organized the same for us. He was also a photography buff and had a dark room in his house for developing films, also making positives on photo paper. We had fun. Dada’s school and college days passed without problems. He was studious and scored excellent marks.
Babuji2 (our father) never had time to enquire about our progress.
Once he did find that Dada needed some coaching in Hindi for his 10th class (grade) examination; Babuji arranged it immediately, and that was the last time when a tutor at home was required for Dada.
He used to play ‘Chess’ and was pretty good at it. We had a neighbor friend who always got beaten by him; in fury, this friend would turn the chess board upside down and throw all the pieces on the floor.
We, as onlookers, had a great laugh. Dada remained at peace, self possessed and remained truthful to the rules of the game. I also learned the game of chess but was not good at it. Dada could plan out his moves as well as his opponents much in advance. His qualities of remaining unruffled and comfortable in the games were also transferred later in all phases of his life.
Babuji had a stroke when Dada was in the college in his 12th class. We all felt a bit insecure; slowly, Babuji recovered and returned to normal life and work. I have a hunch that there was a change in Dada’s future plans since he told us that after completing the college, he would like to take up a job or join a technical training institute so that he will be assured of an employment soon after. Babuji, being of scholarly nature and attitude, was firm in sending him to the University. Babuji’s profession was such that professors of English in the university were on friendly terms with him. Dada’s college score marks were fairly high and he got admission in BSc (Bachelor of Science) with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Muir College— the Science College of Allahabad University — was a citadel of learning in those days where professors were of very high caliber and a few were prestigious members or Fellow of the Royal Society of London, UK. The academic environment was bereft of any politics and pursuit was pure academia oriented.
Coming back to my remarks on Dada, about his thinking of employment by cutting out further University education, we felt that he wanted to take the responsibility of the family at a tender age because of Babuji’s frail health. That kind of highly responsible behavior affected Babuji and he did tell him “Young man you will go a long way and I have no fear in ‘switching off’ any time leaving the whole bunch in your safe hands.” That did happen nearly four years later, just a couple of months prior to Dada completing his Master’s Degree (MSc in Physics). Babuji breathed his last on December 3,
1943. We all put our heads on Dada’s shoulders and sailed along our way. His sense of responsibility towards us all and to all those who came in close contact— relatives, students and friends — is a memorable Gita for each one of us.
Turning to Dada’s joining the College- Ewing Christian College, Amma bought him a bicycle (brand: Hero) for 35 rupees, a substantial sum then. I was very happy as I could piggy back with him and he too was happy to take us around. Our usual visits were to a pond to play Chhichhli and to a guava orchard for buying and picking fresh fruits. These still remain as memorable childhood days. For those who have not played Chhichhli, let me explain: One takes a flat piece of a broken tile and throws at the water surface keeping it parallel to it so that it touches the water and moves on touching the water again several times. One whose tile piece reaches maximum distance before getting lost in the pond is declared the winner. The tile piece is called Chhichhli. Playing marble and collecting them was a passion of ours.
We claimed we were masters at the game though not really so. These memories lead me to believe that we did not miss much of any fun in our childhood days, in spite of our parents not participating totally— their place was taken over by Dada very early in our lives.
Dada’s bicycle had a special place in my life as I had taken a promise from him that when he would join the University, he would take me along to attend my school – KP (Kayastha Pathshala, now Kali Prasad) College – which was on his way. He kept his promise without being reminded even once. How one can forget a brother like him, who was more of a father figure than a competing sibling.
This bicycle was responsible for our initiation into Industrial India before Independence. We went with our cousins across the Ganges River (Ganga Nadi) to a sugar factory; it was a great picnic for us. We saw the entire process right from the crushing of the sugarcane, filtering of the juice, boiling it, converting molasses into white sugar crystals by high speed centrifuges, and finally automatic weighing of sugar in their gunny bags. I had no idea then that later in life I will be handling large capacity sugar projects all over independent India as a General Manager of a government organization.
Bicycles came to us as a boon as individual independent transport.
Dada got a top range Raleigh bicycle at his marriage. I bought a Hercules bicycle at the start of my career as a lecturer at the college where I had also studied. I added a cane basket and hung it in the handle for bringing fruits, vegetables and medicines for Amma. The basket was useful for carrying college books and notebooks of the students whom I taught. It was a great exercise which people use now in a stationary form. Even Prof. K.S. (Kariamanickam Srinivasa) Krishnan, FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) and Head of Physics, Allahabad University, used his bicycle riding around a track in the Alfred Park (Company Bagh) near Muir College. The word College again reminds me of Ewing Christian College where Dada spent his formative days. The Christian College was a part of a chain of institutions run by an American Missionary all over India. Most of the large cities like Lahore, Karachi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Patna and Calcutta (Kolkota), and other metropolitan towns like Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras (Chennai) had established Christian Colleges.