The Crusader of Mental Health


As soon as he completed his MBBS course, his parents started searching for a bride. His grandmother who was 80 years old and a heart patient, wanted to see him get married. CRC did not seek a very beautiful girl from a wealthy family. He wanted a girl from a simple, middle class family. He had even written an article about how people choose their partner for marriage, which discussed issues related to the process. A classmate in MBBS had been seeing hundreds of prospective brides in search of his ideal wife. CRC was strongly against the practice of a man meeting a prospective bride, and then rejecting her because of some shortcoming.
In those days it was difficult to find a graduate girl in their family circle. Most girls were educated up to PUC or SSLC. His parents were ready to cast the net wide to find a graduate girl, but CRC told them that if she came from an educated family, and had some education, it was enough. CRC did not trouble himself about the search; he immersed himself in his work as a house surgeon. His parents met a girl, Rajamma, through her music teacher, and liked her. Her father, Soorachar, was a school teacher and her brother a lecturer in Mathematics in Central College, Bangalore. They lived in Rajajinagar, Bangalore. His parents showed him her photo and suggested that they meet her. On September 9, 1973, they went to the girl’s house. CRC had not bothered to make an effort to dress up or look good. Her parents were somewhat disappointed by his appearance and casual attire. The boy was not keen on getting married and did not seem to be a good match for their beautiful daughter, her parents felt at first.
“We understand the girl has learnt music. Please ask her to sing for us”, requested his maternal aunt, who had accompanied them. Rajamma sang a Carnatik composition on Krishna confidently.

“I would like to talk to the girl,” said CRC.

“Our daughter is very shy,” her parents demurred.

“I will be with them,” the aunt offered, foiling the parents.
“I do not aim to make money as a physician. I believe in simple living. Would you accept this?” asked CRC.
Rajamma simply said yes.

On their return home, CRC parents asked him if he liked the girl and said they could look for girls who were even more beautiful and from richer families. CRC thought about how he could find a girl who would be his life partner, stand by him in good and bad times, and take care of his needs. His experience told him that her beauty or the family’s status would not ensure a successful marriage. His parents had liked the girl and she had accepted his condition; CRC gave his assent. The couple got engaged in a simple ceremony.

They brought Rajamma home to meet the grandmother. She was very happy to see the bride, but passed way after one month; her wish to see her grandson’s wedding could not be fulfilled. The wedding had to be postponed by a year.
The restriction on their meeting before getting married did not prevent them from corresponding. Since both the families were conservative, the couple had not talked privately when they had met. Writing letters gave them an opportunity to open up their hearts to each other. She had studied in Kannada medium and switched to English in PUC on someone’s advice. Due to the change in language, she failed in science. Her education was stopped after PUC. Her two brothers were intelligent and had done M. Sc. Her failure in PUC bred in her an inferiority complex. But she did not allow this to stop her talent from finding expression. She had passed ‘vidwat’ examination in Carnatic music when she was 18 years old. Though she had been confined most of the time to her home, she learnt short-hand, typing and embroidery and read Kannada literature books. CRC came to know her as a cultured and talented person. She appreciated his simple nature and passion for medicine and service to society. By the time the wedding took place, they had understood each other, despite not having met or talked.

The wedding was held at CRC’s house on 6th April, 1975 in Chennapatna. Her name was changed to Rajeshwari, since her new family felt that Rajamma was an old fashioned name. Within a few days after this, Rajeshwari fell ill. People joked that since he was a doctor, he now had a chance to treat his wife. CRC had joined DPM course in January 1975 in NIMHANS. CRC stayed in Bangalore while Rajeshwari stayed at his parents’ home. He came home on weekends. She had not learnt cooking and housekeeping before marriage. She now learnt to cook well and took good care of his parents. Visitors to their home appreciated her hospitality and housekeeping. Rajannachar forbade her from singing in public. She learnt veena and passed ’Senior Examination’ in Carnatic music.
After two years, his wife and mother moved in with him at Bangalore. His father stayed back in Chennapatna and visited them on holidays.

The couple remained childless, despite medical examinations not having found any deficiency in either of them. This was the only shadow in their otherwise perfect married life. They made efforts to adopt a child, but did not succeed. This perhaps helped them to be disinterested in accumulating wealth and giving back to society, as CRC wrote in an article on their life.

She supported him in all his activities including his writing; she gave feedback on his writings. She got him to build a house for them in Syndicate Bank colony, off Bannerghatta road. She did up their new home beautifully, and developed a small garden, which all visitors would praise. He was tight fisted by nature; she made him loosen his purse strings, and helped to keep his ego in check.

She took up teaching Carnatic music from home and charged a nominal fee. Due to devoted one-to-one teaching, many of her students passed junior and senior examinations in first class. She gave many concerts across Karnataka; some of these were part of the Udaya Raga (Morning Raga) program organized by the Kannada Culture Department, which were held in public places like Cubbon Park. She had a good voice and her talent was appreciated by everybody. She would feel frustrated at the limited number of opportunities that came her way due to her lack of influence and the caste politics. She was given an award in 1993 during the All India Kannada Literature and Culture Conference, held in Kanyakumari.

She enrolled in Bangalore Open University and got an MA degree in Kannada. She later got a diploma in journalism from Mysore Open University. She wrote articles, several of which were published in Karmaveera magazine. She joined classes in Chitra Kala Parishat and learnt traditional Mysore style painting. Her paintings were put up on the walls of their home.

Many people asked CRC jokingly if they had ever fought or got angry with other. He could reply honestly in the negative. They were known as “made for each other couple”.

His father lost interest in the printing press, which was facing high competition. He sold it and set up a lathe work shop. The business did not do well and he closed it. He preferred to stay in Chennapatna, visiting his son occasionally. CRC’s mother visited the couple often and eventually moved in with them.