In September 1942, when I was about seven years old, I fell ill. I had typhoid. It was before the days of antibiotics. My temperature would not come down. We lived in Pudumjee Compound in Pune. Dr Ira Rankin of St Margaret’s Hospital came to see me. She said that I needed to be moved to the hospital or I would get worse. She just picked me up and put me in her car and took my Mummy (my mother, Ratanbai Bhalchandra Modak) and me with her to the hospital. For a couple of days, I remained critical. It took 42 days for my temperature to come down. I felt better, but I could not walk or talk! I had to learn that all over again!
At that time, Daddy (my grandfather, Imambux Bawa), who lived with us in Pune, had been in poor health and was sinking. He had already lost his vision because of glaucoma. My aunt (Manutai Maushi, Mrs Manorama Divakar Modak) had come to stay with us and she took care of Daddy in his last days. She narrated a dream that she had seen one night. The scene was a railway station where Daddy was standing with his trunk and I was with him. She asked him, ‘Where are you taking Leela? Ratan will feel very sad.’ So he said, ‘Alright, I’ll take someone else.’
Daddy passed away on 30 September 1942, but I was only told that he had gone to Surat with Manutai Maushi along with my sister Shanta. It was much later that the news of Daddy’s passing away was broken to me by my uncle (Mama, Amirbux Bawa) and that was in the form of a question. ‘Would you not be happy if Daddy could see you again?’ I could only wonder how that could ever happen!
I still remember Daddy with great fondness. Those were difficult days for my parents, but problems were overcome with God’s grace.
– Leela Rajaneekant Kolhatkar, Pune, 24 September 2014.