After reading a news item in Hindustan Times, dated 29th November, 2014, wherein Amitabh Bachchan had praised his late father, Shri Harivansh Rai Bachchan on his 107th birth anniversary, I could not resist the temptation of penning down an incident of summer of 1961 at Nainital.
My husband was then Government Estate Officer. He had the authority to allot accommodation to all the Ministers, Officers and some high dignitaries at Nainital, the summer capital of Uttar Pradesh.
Amitabh Bachchan’s father requested my husband to allot him a suitable accommodation, near Nainital Club, which was accessible in a car. He told my husband that Teji ji has a problem with her knees and she cannot climb stairs. Accordingly, a two roomed cottage was allotted to them in the periphery of Nainital Club. Both were overjoyed to see the cottage. They had come to Nainital just to meet their sons, who were both studying in Sherwood College. Joshi ji called on Bachchans in their cottage to ensure that they were comfortable and happy. They were more than happy.
It was just a coincidence that my husband had to rush to Lucknow that very night for some important meeting. He requested Mr. Bachchan to come over to our house in the evening and told him that his children were very eager to listen to his famous ‘Madhushala.’ Bachchan ji immediately accepted the invitation. It was an impromptu kind of gathering of very few near and dear ones and my son and two daughters.
That evening was an unforgettable evening, as Harivansh Rai ji was at his best. Words of his Madhushala still resonate in my ears, even after 54 years. I am 96 now and I can still recall the details of the evening.
He could not stay longer, as he had to rush back home and go to the Founder’s Day function of Sherwood College with Teji ji.
Wish that evening could be repeated again, alas!