«Edited by Govindjee Urbana, Illinois, USA and Shyam Lal Srivastava Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India i The Cover A photograph of Krishnaji (Dada), 1980 ...»
(See pages 85 and 86 of this book.) Dada was very fond of his youngest daughter Chitra and my youngest daughter Ila. During our stay in Kota (Rajasthan), he kept track of Ila and while passing on his visits elsewhere, he would make a stopover to see her. He loved my daughters immensely. Manju, my eldest daughter, took admission in the medical school for MBBS at Allahabad, staying at 14 B Bank Road. Rita also spent a substantial time with him and Bhabhi. Bhabhi was the God Mother as she was called by Nirmala; she was present during Ila’s birth at Delhi. Manju and Rita were born at Allahabad; so, Bhabhi naturally took care of them. During my three year absence for studies in the USA, it was Bhabhi and Dada who held them near their hearts. Nirmala could study up to MA degree because both Dada and Bhabhi encouraged her education and coordinated all that was required to complete her studies. ‘Hats Off’ to the family and individuals for building up such a wonderful and caring family! (See Part C for photographs.) Tragedies, one after another It seems that happy and tragic moments of life alternate each other as Day and Night. My both elder daughters married happily and as usual Dada was on the forefront of all such occasions guiding at every step, organizing and participating to meet every requirement;
many times I did not know what was going on in the marriage proceedings and I had to enquire and follow him. After Manju had nearly completed her medical graduation, her marriage was performed in January, 1976, with Dr. Randhir Saxena of Lucknow. He had an MS degree in General Surgery and was intent on going to UK. After their arrival in UK, we visited them a couple of times. They had two sons. On both the deliveries, Manju suffered Birth Blues, which is a rare mental state which ignites suicidal actions. Sometimes after the second birth, Manju, sadly for all, killed herself along with her two young sons. Randhir was away at work and on reaching home, he could get inside the house with difficulty to find Manju and children dead: that was again another ‘Will of God’ (stated otherwise “Bhagya Ka Khel” (a Game of Destiny)) for me. The tragedy was unbearable.
We were shell-shocked. When I informed Dada, he rushed to Delhi.
My eyes were dry with horror and anguish. Dada was the only person in whose presence I could cry. When the bodies of our dear daughter and the two lovely grandchildren were brought from London, I touched them; they were ice cold: I cried loudly a second time, otherwise I presume my body would have burst open. Dada was the sole supporter and saved me from breaking into pieces. I still blame myself for not taking adequate precautions after the first indication of Manju’s disease. Religious scriptures say: one cannot change one’s life and its flow; whatever happens is all destined. Birth and death seems to be predetermined and one needs to take it as philosophically as one’s capability. Dada stood like a rock by our side in this tragic moment of my life and that of Nirmala; he remained the only source of our strength to face tragedies falling on us.
I now recall how tragedies in our lives shook us and how Dada held himself and us all; to us, he was a God- like figure breathing strength, hope and succor. Two tragedies followed in quick succession.
Dr. Suresh Chandra and Meenu (Dada’s eldest daughter) had returned to India from Australia after ten years of stay there. They had settled down in Delhi; both their children (son Sunil and daughter Neera) were very bright and intelligent. Neera was growing up satisfactorily except that she had some kind of allergy to specific kind of nuts. She would get suffocating attacks under certain conditions for which the only relief was extra oxygen and a medicine to be injected; Suresh kept both the curative material handy to the extent that he could reach them even in complete darkness. As destined, a neighbor had returned from Switzerland and brought back some chocolates with nuts, as gift for the children. A classmate of Neera arrived and the chocolate box was opened for her friend, who took one and shared it with Neera.
Meenu noticed that it contained hazelnuts and she got apprehensive.
Suresh, Meenu and Sunil were just leaving to go shopping, which they immediately postponed to watch any possible ill effects of the nuts on Neera. They waited for an hour or so and then left her under the care of the maid and Neera’s friend. Normally the allergic reaction used to be fast. Thus Suresh felt safe to leave her. The friend stayed on for quite some time and then left. I, with Nirmala, had come to pick up the Exam results of my grand daughter Nandini (we call her Ninni) from the school in the same locality. On our way back, we decided to see Meenu and her family. As I ascended towards the flat (the apartment), the scene was chaotic; the maid was running around shouting that the “baby was in bad shape”. She called the lady doctor staying next door who decided to take Neera to the hospital where she and her husband were working. It was a bit far off. I started searching for the family in the two nearby markets. I asked them to immediately rush to the hospital. But no one can change the destiny;
by the time we reached the hospital, Neera was no more; in spite of the best efforts of the doctors, they could not save Neera and we had to bring Neera’s body home, without her soul.
Dada was immediately informed about this tragedy; he was in Noida at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram. Ila and Avinash (Ila’s husband) were called earlier at the hospital. The rest of the family got the news and all gathered at Delhi. Dada’s first grandchild left him weeping. This calamity was just too much for Dada; he was full of grief. His inner self was aching but looking at his daughter Meenu and Suresh in deep pain, Dada again became composed and was in command to meet the catastrophic situation. Rest is now past for the eternity.
They say God is Great and his designs are unpredictable and unbelievable. Who knew that worse was still waiting for Dada. Dada’s second son Raj Ranjan, who had done well at his studies- Bachelor in Science, and Master in Commerce- had joined an offshore contracting company, had gone to USA for Computer Science exposure, and had returned to India. He had obtained a job in a Computer Operations outfit, in India, and rose to the position of General Manager, married a sweet girl Poonam and was blessed with two lovely children (daughter Tanima and son Sanket). For his work, he had to travel by road and would sometimes take the family as well. One morning early in February, 1993, they were on the road between Lucknow and Allahabad. The experienced driver of the car was on the steering wheel, Ranjan was reading the morning newspaper; and Poonam and the kids were in the back seat, chatting in the natural chirpy style. Out of nowhere, a truck came and collided with the car with a deadly blow to Ranjan; the driver jumped off but Poonam was hurt in a gruesome manner; she was in an unconscious state. Fortunately, both the children were saved with minor scratches.
In the ensuing mayhem, Tanima held the Fort. Police arrived to provide first aid and the information was sent immediately to Dada;
he rushed to the site to take them to a Lucknow hospital. I had been just out of a hospital after a major surgery of total hip joint replacement and was recovering at the house of Ila and Avinash. I got the news first of the accident and, within hours, that Ranjan has not survived the injuries; he was only 41 years old. No one had the courage to tell Poonam of her loss. Her father and Dada took the courage of breaking the awesome tragic news to Poonam who had regained consciousness in a separate hospital ward. One can imagine the air filled with sadness of the chilling cry all around. The fall-out of such adverse conditions in life has to be faced with steel courage and Dada was a person to standup to face such a tragedy –once again in his life. I can only say that when feet meet the street and pebbles start hurting, one finds ways to get over the hurdles. Time is a great healer. Dada organized a home for Poonam and children at Allahabad near their own house where his eldest son Deepak (with Madhu and their son Monu and daughter Pinki) was on hand to help. Dada and Bhabhi slowly reconciled to the loss of their naughty and loving son Ranjan.
Throwing off the heavy emotional loss from their shoulders, Tanima and Sanket took to their studies with all seriousness. They are lovely well-balanced kids. God Bless them. Poonam has now moved to Gurgaon area, Haryana.
Dada was no more Allahabad, our birth place, and Dada’s Karma Bhumi (work place) flowered again with his earnest efforts in floating an organization in memory of our parents to serve the under-privileged community at large. It immediately caught the imagination of the members of the family, friends and Dada’s well-to-do students all around. Funds were soon available and Dada got immersed in working out details along with the trustees. He had dreams to fulfill. He was 75 years young in spirit and action but not so young in body as per Indian conditions and standards. It was 13th of August 1997 when I received a phone call from Avinash that Dada had a stroke; at that time, I was living in Muscat- Oman with our daughter Rita & family.
I prayed for his recovery and went to bed. The next morning brought the horrific news of his passing away. Shell shocked, we arranged our awful journey to Allahabad knowing full well that I will not be able to see his face anymore. My life has been shaken many a times but this broke my spirit and body. The train of events of 70 years passes through in a rush like a placid stream of river touching the shores of villages and towns with human faces that inhabited them, some laughing and some crying for help but all in vain, the stream gushed through.
I was told that by the funeral pyre that was lit for Dada there were about 1,500 mourners who had gathered at the bank of the Ganges, including the Elite of the city, from the academic circle, judicial luminaries and politicians. When I arrived a day after the independence day of India, where the flowers bedecked Delhi Airport, I was reminded of August 15, 1947, Dada’s entry date into the portals of Allahabad University faculty —when his journey to work had opened up the vista for him to lead an honest life.
I stayed on for several days receiving messages of condolence from his students living outside Allahabad and India, all in deep sorrow, yet, showering lavish praise for his characteristic smile and his helping attitude. One of his students as well as colleague Dr.
Murli Manohar Joshi, who was then a Cabinet Minister in the Government of India, paid his homage by visiting the house — touching the ground in front of Dada’s garlanded portrait. He made it a point to remember him properly by getting a road in our suburb named after him “Professor Krishnaji Street”. This in short is the tale of the four siblings.
Dada was a man of great vision exuding confidence, integrity and dedication. His values of life are worth emulating. Dada — wherever you are, I pray to the almighty God for peace to your pious soul and I seek your blessings for us all………..Amen!
Concluding Remarks I have attempted to write to the best of my capability some reminiscences of Dada but my script is in a shaky, disjointed language;
it stands no comparison with Dada’s writings throughout his life spanning three quarters of a century. He was a Gem of a person in all its genuineness, not as a cliché; colossus by all standards. May I beckon the young generation of the family, as old order changes yielding place to new, to take hold of the family flag and pull it to greater heights.
On lots of occasion, people ask me – How are you? My response is fighting fit and fine with years’ old aching broken bones and moody shaded heady heart, pulsating and chugging like an antique T-Ford model car on the streets of Gurgaon. I live in Gurgaon –HaryanaIndia, where I own a home. We live very close to our lovely little daughter Ila (spouse: Avinash; and sweet chirpy grand daughter Isha).
The name Gurgaon has been changed from Guru-gaon (Village of a teacher- coach). This is the place where Rishi (Saint) Dronacharya
taught the Art of Archery to the legendry Pandavas (the five brothers:
Yudhishthir, Bhim, Nakul, Sahdev and Arjun, the best of the five).
Remembering Dronacharya, Dada too was an Acharya, a great Teacher to hundreds of his successful pupils, still loving him respectfully.
Gurgaon is today a Mini Silicon Valley of the East, buzzing with active young men & women, day & night. It is a happy place of simmering brilliant light rays peeping through windows of high rise buildings on both sides of the broad avenues along with flood lit green Golf Course, but nestled in between, visible from the balconies of some of the flats in its vicinity. The view is comparable to various metropolitan cities of the world fighting for material gains on all fronts.
I wish Dada was with us now to lead us from the darkness of materialism to the light and sanity of pure spiritualism with goodness of life.
I think Dada’s philosophy of life was guided by religious ‘edicts’ in Gita, Quran and Bible, concisely placed in simple thoughts like, “When one dies people will ask what property has he left behind him?” But the angels will ask: “What good deeds has he sent before him?” I leave to the rest to the next generation and I end this personal recollection with Dada’s simple words to enshrine his memories; “Let Bygone be Bygone”; “Be Alive Today” and lastly “Work and Pray for the Well Being of All.”
G od’s will is all pervading reflected in Nature and in all of us; it is graceful and free and it is the doer of all things; without His will, even a single leaf does not flutter. Nevertheless, I want to believe that my coming on this Earth was propelled by the intense desire of a six year old young boy to have a sister.
It so happened that on the auspicious day of Bhai Dooj2 the boy’s cousin sister came to adorn the occasion. This displeased the boy and he hid in the house. His mother persuaded him, but he didn’t yield. After constant questioning, he said, ”when I’ll have my own sister then I’ll accept Bhai Dooj”. He wasn’t prepared to listen to anything: neither proper, nor improper.