Monday, July 31, 2017

Guntur Bapanayya

This remembering of past might have been triggered by reading Sujatha Gidla's book. Early in the book, in Chapter 3, she mentioned Guntur Bapanayya who I met in 1952. She mentioned his taking care her mother Manjula, here mentioned as Papa :
"When Bapanayya first moved to Slatter Peta and met Papa, who was still living there at the time, his heart went out to the poor motherless child. He would call her over and carefully remove the lice from her hair, crushing them between his nails."
This was how I met Bapanayya. My father was working in Guntur District as a headmaster and in the holidays, I would visit either Pesarlanka, my mother's village or Avanigadda, my father's village. That time I was visiting Avanigadda. It was still a joint family and Radha babai was looking after the family agriculture, while my father Raghavaiah and the other brother Chalamaiah had jobs away from home. Our house was in the centre of Avanigadda, with a big covered verandah with some sides elevated where people could sit or sleep. There was enough room even for small meetings. Radha babai was a communist and local elections were taking place. I was only 11 and did not know what communism was ( and still am not sure) but I took part in the canvassing putting up posters and so on. Many communist leaders who came to canvass used to visit our house and stay there. Bapanayya was one of them and he was very friendly though he was already an MLA. That is about all I remember, but I almost caused a riot and he might have helped me but I am not sure ( I am beginning to remember. Bapanayya might have had a part in the near riot. The communist party office was adjacent to the shop of the opposing candidate. I found the flags over the office were in tatters and wanted to change them. I think that I asked Bapanayya and he approved. I changed the flags. It turned out one the flags was the opponents and a vast group gathered with shouting and causing almost a riot. Then I think somebody intervened saying since I and Bapanayya were outsiders, we did not know what flags were there earlier. Then both flags, now new were flown again. I think we lost the election which was finally decided on caste basis, I think.) But he was very nice and I remembered him and a few times I googled and could not find any thing more. Then came Sujatha's book and I started inquiring again. PPC Joshi remembered the name and not much more. Finally, I phoned Radha babai's son Dr. Gadde Ramamohanarao ( not the politician) who is visiting USA now. He was only 7 at that time but he remembered since his father's friendship with Bapanayya continued. It seems that his wife was a teacher and though he was a MLA for several terms, he did not make any money. He settled down in Masulipatam and Radha babai used to send him quarter bag of rice ( basta) every month for some years. That seem to be the fate of some of the poor who serve the poor. Anybody who knows more about Guntur Bapanayya can inform Sujatha Gidla.

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