Wednesday, September 06, 2023

"but Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?"

This is officially a crazy story. I hope to do it justice.

A month ago, my old advisor at Oxford posted a sweet photo of herself at the door of her office on the socials. It reminded me of all the times I'd shown up at that office excited about an idea or terrified about exams and seeing her open that same door with that same welcoming gesture. I "loved" it obviously. She mentioned that a visiting cousin had taken that photo and I asked her privately if that cousin was from my part of the world (the name didn't sound like it was from hers). The cousin was indeed from my part of the world, and my advisor mentioned that her husband's aunt had married a South Indian cricketeer named Murugesh. 

Now Murugesh is a fairly common name, but the first time I heard it was because the person succeeding my dad at this one position in Vizag four decades ago was named Murugesh. And the only reason I've remembered that was this: Murugesh and his family would soon be occupying the beautiful company house with a full house staff and fancy furniture after we left. There was one table though that had turned a bit rickety, and we had shoved a trunk under it to stabilize it... but of course we'd be taking that trunk with us when we moved away. My dad made up this song about all the stuff the new family would enjoy in the company house, the final line of the song was "but, Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?" (For the rickety table, LOL.) It had a catchy tune and we thought it was hilarious and over the decades, we'd sing a snatch of that song and laugh when it came to "but Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?"

Back to the present: I asked my dad if Murugesh had been a cricketeer; he had. I asked my advisor if her cousin's dad had worked in Vizag; he had. It was the same Murugesh! (My dad had added an extra syllable to M's name for some old-timey flavor.) And then a spate of emails via my advisor about memories of that house, neighbors, romances that had transpired between the new family and our old neighbors, and then sharing the famous (in our family) song. (And yes, it was summer, but my advisor is a very busy academic with talks to give and books being published and whatnot... she was so kind to facilitate this discussion.) And because I happened to be visiting my parents when my advisor was emailing back and forth about this, it gave us so many nostalgic things to recall and enjoy. 

When I was six years old, I did not know that I would connect with the protagonist of my dad's song over 40 years in the future...

Pic: I couldn't find a pic of Woodroffe House in Waltair Uplands. But this is a picture of Waltair Club home to many childhood shenanigans and whose verandah kinda looks like Woodroffe. 

6 comments:

Nicole said...

NO WAY!!! That is a truly incredible story. I love things like this - such a small world we live in! How cool is that!

StephLove said...

Wow, that's quite a story.

NGS said...

The world is so small, isn't it? It's amazing. What a lovely way to have that memory come to light!

maya said...

Thank you, Nicole, Steph, NGS--I felt pretty awed by it, for sure!

Gillian said...

Good memory.

Sarah said...

Oh WOW!

strange new world

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