Lawyer who gave up everything for freedom struggle

He was from a poor family, studied hard and became a graduate. He was married while he was studying law in the then Madras Law College. After his graduation, he set up practice in a bustling town in the north of the Madras Presidency.

Chittoor Rajagopalachari, as he was later known, soon became one of the famous lawyers of the town. Many people, far and near, came to him to engage him as their lawyer for, he was reputed to be lucky who could win any case. It is said he was earning around thousand rupees a month in the 1920s. He soon purchased a palatial bungalow in the heart of the town befitting his reputation. But he hardly had time for his young wife. “You know Kanakamma, I cannot take a single day off from the court. All these clients have paid me lots of money. I have to do their case with the utmost care.” Of course, she understood and quietly mumbled, “yes”.

It was the time when the freedom movement was picking up steam. The town’s important people met and arranged small programmes to attract people to the freedom movement. He began to participate in the party’s activities and was soon seriously involved in them. He also attended the Congress sessions and met Gandhiji and other important leaders.

He stopped going to court. Did it bother his wife? She strongly believed that whatever her husband did was right. She never questioned him when he was busy making money and had no time for her. Now, after he became seriously involved in the freedom movement, he had no time for her. He said, “You know so many thousands of youngsters have sacrificed their lives for the cause and many wives have lost husbands, and mothers their children and yet are carrying on bravely”. Of course, she understood and mumbled “yes”.

The freedom movement reached its peak. Protests were rising from every corner of the country. People were caught and jailed. He too went to jail when he participated in the Quit India Movement. While leading the protesters, he sustained a severe head injury from a lathi blow but miraculously recovered under the magic hands of his brother-in-law, Dr. Rangachari, a famous surgeon of the Madras General Hospital.

Soon, there was a call from the Father of the Nation for donation from people for the cause of freedom. When volunteers came to the town, he proudly stood outside his house with his young wife and without hesitation dropped a bundle of papers he was holding into the bag. They were the original documents of his house! She extended her hand hidden behind the sari and dropped a bunch of jewels which had adorned her from the day of her marriage. Neither did she think for a second of what she did nor did he ask her about it. He had another house in Madras, which he sold off and gave the entire money to an educational institution.

He now had hardly any possession and took his and his wife’s clothes in a small trunk box and came to Madras. Fortunately for him, his wife’s sister was living all alone in a big bungalow after her husband’s death. So the couple spent their last few years there.

When the country got its freedom his friends advised him to apply to the government for pension. “You know, so many of your friends have become Ministers & Governors! They will do anything for you,” they advised. He declined as he never thought about rewards.

“He gave up everything for the country. Now he is gone I am sure god will receive him with due honours,” my mother concluded, pointing out to the sky looming with dark clouds beyond. “Look over there,” she said, “I can see his spirit soaring to heaven led by eager dark clouds trumpeting his arrival to the gods,” she said. Just then the boy saw the clouds light up followed by a deafening sound of thunder. At that moment, he clearly saw the grandfather’s smiling face.

(The writer’s email: ssvasudevan55@gmail.com)

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