Aung San Suu Kyi remembers with fondness her association with K. Rangaswamy, The Hindu’s political correspondent in New Delhi in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
I got to know [Mr. Rangaswamy’s] daughter at school. We were together at the Convent of Jesus and Mary. Kamla and I were in the same class and then we also went to Lady Shri Ram College together the same year. We both took Political Science Honours, and that’s how I became friendly with them.
But I became particularly friendly with Uncle Rangaswamy when I was preparing for my Oxford entrance. In those days, you had to do Latin for the Oxford entrance, and I had no Latin, of course, because in Burma and India we are not taught Latin. So as an alternative, they said I’d have to get an A level in Maths.
Now, I wanted to get into college that year rather than wait another year, which left me three months in which to prepare for the A level Maths, which is quite a high standard. So when I tried to find tutors, they refused to take me, because they said I wouldn’t be able to make it in three months. And they did not want to be responsible for teaching a failure.
Uncle Rangaswamy knew, because I was in and out of his house all the time, that I did not have a teacher and that I wanted to take this exam in three months. So he said he would teach me! Some people were rather scared of him, because Uncle Rangaswamy has a rather formidable exterior. But I thought he was very sweet, and he was very, very sweet to me.
He said to me one day, which I shall never forget and which I think was so admirable about him, he said: “I’ve taught you all I can, I can’t teach you anymore, but you’re the best student I’ve ever had, so I’ll find you a teacher.” And he got a contact of his — an old student of his for all I know — a mathematics teacher. He told her to continue to teach me the rest of the curriculum, which she did, and then I managed to just scrape through the exams, and I made it to Oxford that year instead of having to wait another year. It was because of Uncle Rangaswami.
He had enough faith in me. He said “I’ll teach you”, but I’ll never forget the way he said “I’ve taught you all I know.” I was so fond of him. I wish he were alive now. I’m sure he’d have had a lot to say to me!