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(11) The Thumnerale rendezvous!

June 27, 2009

It was nearly 15 days since we closed down the Chinnadagudihundi clinic. Our group had also grown from the initial 6 to nearly 15. More and more of my classmates were evincing interest in this new adventure of ours. Many ladies like Pushpalatha and Shashikala Joyce joined us. Devaraj Acharya, Lakshman Kannan, Ashwaq Hussain, Vinayak, Raghu M.P. and others too had joined by then. We had enough people but no activity to keep us engaged in.

I was talking about this to Pushpalatha one day and lamenting the fact that our first project had to be aborted so suddenly. We Indians have our own way of finding excuses for our failures, but do not look for reasons to succeed. She came next day excited and wanting to talk to me. She told me that she had spoken to her childhood friend and neighbour about SVYM and told me that her father wanted to meet with me. This friend was Sumana, a law student then and her father was the famous socialist and lawyer T.N.Nagaraj. He was a Lohiaite and a close associate of Jayaprakash Narayan.

That evening Pushpalatha and I met him at his house and I fondly told him of SVYM and my dreams of national reconstruction. The man was so touched that he broke into tears and hugged me. I was shaken at this emotional response and waited for things to settle down. He then told me that he had a farm house in Thumnerale village, about 30 km from Mysore city in Nanjangud Taluk. He suggested that we restart our rural clinic here. He also offered to drive us down every Sunday in his car. This was the proverbial silver lining that we were looking for. Without hesitation and no idea of how we could go about the whole thing, I agreed.

The next Sunday, Chandru, Devaraj, Pushpalatha, Sumana and I set out to Thumerale in his old car. He was himself driving. He took us through dusty rural roads and we reached there after nearly 1.5 hours of back breaking travel! His farm house was nestling amidst a lovely coconut orchard and it was love at first sight! We thanked him profusely for his generous offer and told him that our clinic would start the coming week itself.

The Thumnerale clinic was thus born, in the first week of February 1985. We ran this clinic without a break till February 1990. We were sensitive enough not to close this down till Mr.Nagaraj’s death. An extraordinary individual with a large heart and much larger compassion for humanity in general and rural folk in particular. He was indeed one of the great men that starting SVYM has allowed me to meet and know.

Balu (blogging from Harvard)

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