It happened during my college days. I had relocated to my home town for my under graduation and was carving my own identity. The college had very active student politics and in my last year, the college elected “union” had five of my classmates. I was very proud of this and also the fact that I had very actively participated in campaigning for these winners. The day of the inauguration of the new union, a fairly noticeable article came in the newspapers about the inauguration being attended by renowned personalities. My parents, who stayed in another city, happened to be in town on this day. My father was very excited that one of his close friends, a renowned author was going to be part of the celebrations in my college. I very haughtily told my dad, “Do you want to see him? No issues – I can arrange for it”. This was a time when there were no mobiles and meeting an old friend by chance required a bit of ‘arrangement’. And, off I went to college.
My friends were mostly thronging the staff room to make sure the guests of honor were well taken care of. I went to the Chairman, Dany, who was one of my closest friends and said I want to meet the guest of honor, the writer and convey that my dad wants to meet him. My friend asked me to wait at the door and accompany the guest when he comes out and let him know. It all happened very quickly. I looked at the guest and promptly said, “I am Air India Radhakrishnan’s daughter”. This dear gentleman smiled and took my hand and almost hugged me with delight…and then we looked at each other for a few seconds. Slowly, I recognised that this was not the person I was after. I slowed my steps and slunk to the background, hoping nobody would catch me.
As luck would have it, Dany caught up with me and said, “How do you know ONV?” with twinkle in his eyes and new found respect for my being! I shuddered and wondered what I should say. “I was like….ONV???” Dany was in a hurry, and I quickly elicited a promise from him not to reveal the true situation, because I would be a laughing stock of the entire college if I couldn’t recognise ONV, one of the most awarded poets in our language. He quickly smiled and said “OK”. I said, “please let me meet Ashtamoorthi uncle – else even my dad will make fun of me.” I was ushered to Ashtamoorthi uncle and there sheepishly I mentioned to uncle that I am “Air India Radhakrishnan’s” daughter and that my dad would like to meet him after the event. He looked at me quizzically because even he had seen ONV hug me!! I slid away from the entire place and returned just when Ashtamoorthi uncle was making his speech. And there I was, pat in the middle of the speech! Uncle started saying he was doubly happy to come for the event because one of his close friend’s daughter just met him and he is going to meet his friend. How I wished the earth would swallow me up – because there was ONV on the stage smiling and I am sure on the edge of a poetic opportunity to make fun of poor me! Oh, the shame!
I literally ran away from college that day. Usually, I would hang around long after classes are done, but that day I just couldn’t face anyone. Especially Dany, for fear that he would spread far and wide the story of this idiotic girl who couldn’t recognise “ONV”.
After this episode, one would think I would try not talk about it to anyone. But I did…I narrated the entire incident to my parents. And God, did they laugh! To date, those three letters of ONV cannot be said in our house without mentioning this funny incident. And of course, I am the narrator of the story!