I had an opportunity to give a 2 minute speech yesterday (Eve of Indian Independence Day) about an Unsung Hero and while looking out for one, my mom shared the story of her dad with me. Why would I have to look further when we had a HERO in the family.
My mom and my uncle contributed by sharing stories, facts and photographs which are precious. I have put everything here that I have collected and learnt in the past few days.
Family stories are precious especially about a HERO that we know so little about.
Imprisoned for giving speeches…….. is what happened to this tall, angry young man. He was a Ghandian from a very young age and after meeting the Mahatma at Nandhi Hills, he was greatly impacted and adopted the Khadi for life.
He was impriosned from 1932-1934 on charges of giving speeches against the British and influencing the minds of people. He had been an active participant in the Civil Disobedience movement.
Melukote Ramaswamy Iyengar Sheshadri, during time in prison, met and mingled with of C.Rajagopalechari, S.N Nijalingappa, Mr. Devaraj Urs, friends of Bhagath Singh and their contemporaries. These people were characters of stories that he shared with his family.
These “fighters for freedom” were treated like criminals and were forced to do manual labour which they passively protested against. Their persistant passive protest, led to their relocation from the Bangalore Central Jail to Kannannor jail in Kerala to keep them away from influencing others.
During those 2 years, M.R Sheshadri also lost his father and was taken on paroll to his father’s funeral. Upon being released, he was brought back to Bangalore on a flight. This was his first air travel.
On Returning home, he joined the kannada newspaper “Vishwa Karnataka” as its “Fearless” Editor. The paper did not survive to report history.
When he was looking for suitable employment, an Iyengar Mr. T Sharma, wanting to help another Iyengar, gave him a job as a superintendent as a company called the Bangalore Transport Company, which later became the Bangalore Transport Service and today popular as BMTC.
He being a mathematics genius he simultaneously taught Maths at the Industrial Training Institute.
I was told, he married the lady of his choice against the approval from his parents. I am sure , he did not regret his decision. His bride brought with her a large family and raised one too. He was called “attambi”, meaning brother-in-law by everyone in the family, including his own children.
I have learnt that he was extremely short tempered. After an argument at home, he would walk away from home, only to return with some goodies or groceries as normal, without a hint of what had happened before he left home. Maybe he had found a way to sort out issues by spending time with himself.
In 1972, during the 25th Anniversary of Indian Independence. along with other freedom fighters, he was invited to Delhi. As a recognition for his part in the fight for Independence, he was awarded a citation on a copper plate called the “tamra patra” from the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
He was also felicitated by the then CM of Karnataka, Mr. Devaraj Urs, and allocated 10 acres of land. He being a man of his own principals, refused this “land reward” saying “he fought for the freedom of the country and not for any reward”. It does take a lot of selflessness, courage and above all patriotism to refuse 10 acreas of land as a reward. This act speaks about the principals he followed and how he set an example by being one.
These are a few extraordinary incidences from the life of an ordinary man – “my thatha”, our unsung hero.