An old weak man sitting small on an ancestral chair evoked strong emotions and respect. A man of integrity and wisdom but humble and weak, would not look so to those who did not know him. I am hesitant to use the word "poor" to describe his conditions; that might be attributed to his personality. It is true that he was financially not strong at least, since the days I have known him.
I do not know what the salary was for teachers in 50s and 60s; all the retired teachers I have seen were not so well off. Similarly, this retired teacher’s family was barely making the ends meet. He never expressed it. He usually sat on a chair in the veranda and it appeared as if he was contemplating. The affection that he showed and the hospitality at their home towards friends and relatives, was amazing. He would talk and inquire about their business intimately.
He was an artist too: a Yakshagana speaker and a Maddale player. Probably that is how he was very close to my grandfather. My grandfather always called him his minister. He would send for him to seek his opinion, whenever some important decision was to be made. He was wise. He would stay at our place and in the morning when we sat in front of the bathroom fire, he would talk about things which the whole family listened to it as if it was of great value; he never disappointed.
I have not seen a man richer in thought than him and more well composed. I was told he was born to a rich family in my village. His elder brother, who was not so smart, it seems was cheated and all his property was lost. He was still a minor and he had lost all his property before he attained majority. His ancestral house still stands in our village.
He had all his daughters married. His sons struggled hard in many businesses and did not go too far. After all his efforts, he could not see a brighter day. He called my father whenever he wanted to discuss something important. My father respected him for he knew he was my grand father's minister(!) and a nice man. I used to accompany my father, whenever I could, to their house.
I was several seas away when I learnt he said good bye to his family and friends. He was old and fragile. When we drove next to his house during my last visit, I looked at my father. My father shook his head and said, "That place is different now, it is not so pleasant to visit". I watched the opened door until we moved away.
It is men who make things pleasant not the other way around. We come across few such men, honest, rich in thought and ideas: men who evoke strong emotions. I remember every now and then the old man sitting small on an ancestral chair: "Hunavalli Mestru" (Teacher from Hunavalli) as my grandfather called him.