Republic Day, 1953
For the next one week I spent my whole free time making plans for the big day; what and how to cook, and to finish all the house work by before 7a.m. and washing and keeping ready the children's woollies etc.
And on the 26th morning everything was done as I had planned. I cooked rice, sambar and 'phoolgobhi subzi' for lunch, gave baths to Raji, aged six and a half, Bala, aged four and a half and Viji, six months old, the youngest, whom we left at home with our own Jeeves called Bhagavathy. We did not have to use the car pass as we had no car (and we never felt its absence). Anyway we were staying at Pandara Road and India Gate was only walking distance. so we were in our seats by eight a.m. as directed in the card. All the children were seated on the ground covered with durries at the front.
Pandit Nehru, the Prime Minister, was walking up and down the footpath waiting for the arrival of the President, shaking hands with a child here, patting another, cutting a joke with yet another and rumpling another child's hair, and all the children were pleased as punch. Later on we were told that Raji and Bala were also among those who had their hair rumpled by Nehru and with whom he talked.
Compared to today's procession ( I am writing this after watching today's, i.e. the year 2007's )Parade on TV, what we watched was nothing great, but that one being our first one, our being a part of it, and that it was India's fourth Republic Day, we were feeling very proud just for being Indians.
Back home, all of us feeling pleasantly tired and hungry were ready to eat and sleep, so I asked our own Jeeves to heat up the food cooked in the morning. Pat came the reply, 'Food? What food? There is nothing to heat up!’ And then he narrated how two of our friends had come home asking for us and when told where we were they made a beeline for the kitchen to see if there was anything to eat and seeing all that I had cooked they polished off everything and left, telling Jeeves to convey their thanks to us.
At first I was very angry, but then saw the funny side of it and we had a good laugh. Somehow I managed to put some lunch on the table without much delay and that was that.
There was no phone at home those days, so it was after a week, when we met them, that we came to know that our friends Sundaram and Rangarajan, whose wives were down South, had to go hungry on that day, because their usual eating place, the chummeries kitchen, had been closed because of Republic Day. Since they knew there would be food at Ramakrishnan's place, they came over and there was food, though the Ramakrishnans were not. And they ate whatever was there, knowing that we wouldn’t mind. That was (and still is) how strong our friendship was. Though the Rangarajans are no more, the Sundarams and myself are still very good friends.
I can never forget that day in 1953. Putting down all this on paper I am living those days again and that gives me so much comfort.