I am back with this series.
The late AR Sundaram (Sunda Mami to friends) was a repository of music, having been a student all her long life, and also a fund of musical lore. When Malathi Rangaswami and I were writing Four Score and More, the History of the Music Academy, Madras, she was of immense use to us. One of the stories she related was this one –
It was sometime in the 1930s and the Academy’s concerts were held at Royapettah. TN Rajarathinam Pillai was scheduled to perform. In far away Ramakrishna Chetty Street, Veena Dhanammal got to know of it and decided that she had to attend. This was a day when everyone in the family had gone out but that did not deter the near-blind old lady. She commandeered a rickshaw and made her way to General Patters Road.
The rickshaw puller deposited her outside the venue and there, guided entirely by the music, she felt her way in and managed to find a seat. Someone noticed and got her a chair in front. TNR was moved. But even he did not anticipate what happened at the end of the performance. As he finished, Dhannamal felt her way to the stage and enveloped him in an embrace. The curtains fell even as the audience looked in awe at the two legends.
This tale is part of a series I do on some happenings on bygone seasons. You can read the earlier parts here
Join me on December 21, Saturday, for the Musical Heritage of Mylapore walk (music by Sruthi Shankar Kumar) for more such stories. Register here
For some more stories on the Season, join me on December 25th, Wednesday for my Music Academy Heritage Tour. Register here