to as the poor man's Ooty, Sakleshpur, earlier known as Sakala-Aishwarya-pura(
the land of every known wealth) is a picturesque little hill station
in Karnataka, nestling on a hillock above the banks of the Hemavathy
river that meanders around three of its sides while on its journey
to join the Kaveri. Across the river is the low hill-line which
marks the edge of the Deccan plateau-- the male-nadu, heralding
the Western Ghats where the Bengaluru-Mangalure High starts descending,
the wind its way down Shiradi to finally reach the golden beaches
of the port town of Mangalore. On the outskirts of Sakleshpur at
donikal, just where the decent actually commences, in Tippu's Manzarabad
fort, a top the highest peak that commands a vantage view of the
respective route of the highway as it ascends up the mountains,
the turrets of which had sported the cannons that had once successively
resisted the progress of the British armies on their March into
the Sultan's domain on the Deccan plateau.
To this little coffee and cardamom town I am drawn now and again,
to visit Hemavathy Farm, retained for sentimental reasons as a symbol
of our cherished association with this town for the past 40 years.
That's how long it is since father left his vocation as an educationist,
to step into greener pastures of coffee growing.
Father is no more
and with him went the estates that he had built with the sweat of
his brow. He disposed them off one by one, thoroughly disappointed
in his progeny, who by then had chosen different corners of the
world with no time or shown interest to build on parental endeavour.
Only hemavathy has remained.
When I arrive in
Sakleshpur, I choose for my stay the Traveller's Bungalow on the
mound above the Town Hall. The reason, as you drive up to the TB
you come upon the Education Officer's complex within which is a
tiny building with a legend inscribed above its front door, declaring
it to be the L.B. Pereira wing of the Bharat Scouts and Guides Unit,
constructed in father's memory for services rendered to the community.
I remember going all the way from Sikkim, to be present at the ceremony
when its foundation stone was laid by no less an illustrious soldier
than the late Field Marshal Carriappa. On most previous visits when
my children accompanied me on these trips, they posed before this
structure while I clicked away to add to the family's sentimental
But as years roll
on, the visits to the farm have become far and few between. The
frustration, the helplessness and the mental agony over problems
resulting from absentee land-lordism, are adding up to multiply
manyfold the already separating chasm of over 2000 kilometers distance
between Delhi and Sakleshpur.
On each occasion,
I set foot determined to part with this property to any of those
numerous bidders that have evinced keen interest in acquiring it,
-- who would, I'm sure, have more time and proximate energy to do
justice to its up keep.
And then I arrive
at the farm, take in its serene surroundings, which galvanise and
catapult me in to a human dynamo. I girdle up my loins and tackle
one by one the problems that plaque the place. In the evening I
sit out with my glass in the yard to breathe in the cool country
air, sweetened fragrance of acacia and eucalyptus, and the swaying
coconut palms - to feel refreshed, intoxicated and envigorated.
The memories come flooding in-- of those trees seen as saplings
once placed in the freshly dug earth with my own hands, of plans
my father discussed, sharing with me his ideas to make the place
a garden beyond compare. I see a pink little plastic back in time
to see my Indira and Prashanth taking turns to be in the riding
seat and the pillion. I present the tricycle to the care-taker's
little ones and enjoy an inward thrill seeing a sparkle of joy light
up their eyes.
I leave the place,
the decision to part with the property put off to a future date,
yet once again.
Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can
interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and email@example.com
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