On Sunday, the Gopalapuram residence of late Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi sprang to life. It was not because Chief Minister M.K. Stalin visited the house. His wife Durga, sister Selvi and brother Tamizharasu were already there. They all waited for Mangalambika alias Saroja Seetharaman, 86, the granddaughter of Sarabeswara Iyer, the owner of the house, who sold it to Karunanidhi in 1955.
“I could not sleep last night as I was overwhelmed with excitement. It is unbelievable that the Chief Minister, amid his busy schedule, agreed to meet us. I could meet his wife, brother and sister. He made my day,” said Ms. Seetharaman, whose marriage took place in the house.
Mr. Stalin received them like a child waiting for his favourite uncle and aunt. He spent the next half-an-hour with them. He took them on a tour of the house, introduced his family members and explained who is who in the portraits on the walls.
“We have not altered the house; we keep even the floor intact,” he told Ms. Seetharaman, who has flown down to Chennai from the U.S. only to see the house and worship at the Venugopalaswamy temple nearby. She was accompanied by her brother R. Jambunathan, who was born in the house, her daughters Chandrika Narayan and Priya Ramnath and son Ananth Seetharaman.
A house for marriages
While two plaques in the house bear the name of Karunanidhi and Anjugam, Ms. Seetharaman said the house’s name during her childhood days was ‘Kalyani’ because the Gopalapuram residents preferred conducting their family marriages in the house. Interestingly, Kalyani is one of the main characters of the film Parasakthi, for which Karunanidhi wrote the dialogue and screenplay.
Mr. Stalin said that though the locals advised Sarabeswara Iyer against selling the house to his father, he did not listen to them.
When they were climbing the staircase to the first floor where Karunanidhi lived, read, wrote, met leaders and evolved strategies, Mr. Jambunathan said his favourite past time was sliding down the staircase. The first floor now has nothing but books, books and books.
Mr. Jambunathan searched for a small pooja room, but it was also filled with books. He silently prostrated before it.
The Chief Minister said he and his brothers, including M.K. Alagiri, grew up in the house. He decided to shift to a new house at Velachery only when he became the Chennai Mayor.
Ms. Seetharaman also sought the blessings of Dayalu Ammal, the mother of the Chief Minister. “I cannot forget that the Chief Minister’s sister took my blessings,” said Ms. Seetharaman.