Everyone, from her husband to her little grandson has teased her about it. She just smiles and says “Those days we were so naive. These days kids are so smart, what with the internet and all”
My aunt Fathima and my uncle Seyed grew up in a small village called Campbellabad in Tirunelvelli Disrictt in Tamil Nadu. They studied in the same village school. Though they were not in the same classes, they knew each other. All the village kids hung out together after school and they were always in and out of each other’s houses. As the village was small they were invariably related to each other. So A would be B’s cousin and C’s mom would be aunt to both A and B and so forth.
The village was under the governing body of a Panchayat Union. Our grandfather Mohammed Hassan, was the first Panachayat Union Head of our village.
In those days, the DEO or District Education Officer would pay a visit to all the Government Schools under his jurisdiction. His visit would cause quite a stir in the schools. The students would be told a day earlier about his visit and be advised to wear clean uniforms and come with neatly combed hair. The bright students would be coached on all the possible questions the DEO might ask them. The teachers would send fervent prayers to their Gods that the DEO should not pick on one of the weaker students and quiz them.
That day, way back in 1950s, the DEO’s visit to the village school was proceeding along the usual lines. He had entered a few classes and been impressed with the bright students who had been showcased for his appraisal. In my aunt’s class which was the third standard, he deviated from his usual behavior. He did not question the class in general and hope one of them would come up with the correct answer. Instead he selected one girl from among the eager young faces staring at him.
That girl was our aunt!
“Little girl, you tell me now, who is the first President of India?”
My aunt without any qualms, looked him in the eye, and so sure of her answer replied:
“The first President of India is Seyed’s father. His name is Mohammed Hassan!”
I think her class teacher almost died that day.
Years later, when my uncle Seyed married my aunt Fathima, everyone was told this story by my grandmother.
She was proud of getting a daughter- in-law who had elevated her husband, an ordinary village Panchayat Union Head to the level of the First Citizen of India.
Story by: Soudha Sha. Tuticorin… Written by: Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.