Kitta was one of first cousins of my grandfather's. He was married to Sumitra in the early 1960s. His elder brother was Shankara, married Girija and both couples were childless. The youngest brother Chandu had never married. They were all living together in Bangalore. Probably owing to their lazy nature or lack of a degree Kitta and Shankara were in small jobs that brought small salaries. Chandu was a lawyer and it was from his earnings they were able to somehow sustain life reasonably for many years.
A time came when age was catching up on all of them. Health issues were slowly making their lives difficult, economically also. But for the considerate support from two of their nephews and their doctor-father, their condition would have turned pathetic, much sooner. Eventually, sustenance became impossible. Shankara departed first. Then Kitta, many months later. Chandu's health was also deteriorating. So it became too difficult for the two widowed ladies to take care of Chandu. Girija who had her own knee issues left and went to live with her brother in Mysore. Sumitra followed suit, going to her native Chickmagalur, leaving an ailing Chandu. Chandu also did not live long thereafter, having been under the care of his kind nephew's family towards the end.
Shankara and Girija during their marriage. No photo of Kitta is available. My aunt was fond of collecting photos of relatives and particularly children. That is how this came to be part of our 'family albums'.
They were all very friendly, kind and warm-hearted people and the way they had maintained a harmonious environment consistently was adored. Sumitra and Girija cooked together and very well. Being more efficient and active than Girija, it was Sumitra who did the outside chores. On nearly every cricket trip to Bangalore I had made it a point to visit "Chandu's house" [we called like this] and sometimes even stayed with them because their affection was genuine. At times Sumitra's brother Mohan also came there for short stays.
Several years went by. My co-employee Ravi asked me if I knew of one Mohan who was a tenant in one of his relative's house in Mysore. At first I could not place him, but when the connection was revealed, I was glad. Mohan had known me from "Chandu's house" and that was all I knew of him. Mohan had been aware where I worked. So when he learnt that Ravi was also working there, he had inquired about me.
So I got Mohan's contact from Ravi and on calling. The last I had seen Sumitra [or Mohan] was several years ago. The mental image of her as a short and small build, active, cheerful and always wearing a smile was all that had remained.
A visit to Chickmagalur, in connection with our daughter's marriage provided me the opportunity to meet Sumitra. My co-brother-in-law Satish took me on his scooter to her address [provided by Mohan] which was not far from Satish's house. It took Sumitra a couple of seconds to place me with "Oh, Dinu!" when she answered the doorbell. That same friendly smile was in tact, now welcoming me and Satish. Pleasantries and family updates were exchanged.
Age and minor health issues had made her appearance rounder but said she had been generally well, living alone and often visited by her very fond brother Mohan.
Our visit was taking another happy and unexpected turn. Now Satish seemed to remember Sumitra, both 'Chickmagalur natives'. They discovered they were neighbours on the same street for several years 35-40 years ago and their families were close too. What a coincidence! It was a bonus for Satish, finding and renewing contact with an old acquaintance in such a manner!
Sumitra could not make it to the marriage for whatever reason but the short visit to her provided me an exhilarating moment nevertheless, thanks to the unique chain of circumstances that formed itself.