Sunita Mallya, my mom had a green thumb. She wanted to do some gardening. A huge bungalow with a lot of space in front and at the back at the police quarters in Mysore. Two small children. A husband who kept to odd hours. Needed help – a gardener perhaps!
After much goading, her husband brings home a chap who is tall, fit and willing to work in the garden and stay in the outhouse. To top it all, he would take care of his own food and not be a bother to Mom.
First few days were spent in checking on the work done by the newly appointed gardener! Umm. ‘He seems to know his job’, she said. ‘Let’s wait and watch’. Soon we saw mom working alongside with him and build up a kitchen garden. We grew snake gourds which were a good match to our heights. My brother and I stood there checking out if they matched our heights.
There were other vegetables too. These found their way into our kitchen. ‘The meals cooked with the freshest of the fresh vegetables were delicious’, so said Mom. The gardener now got a few goodies from Mom’s kitchen to eat!
Bora as we called him was resourceful. He knew exactly where to go to get rose cuttings for the front garden. My brother and I, all of 7 & 5 years of age often pleaded with mom to let us go along with him to get the rose cuttings. He would hold our hand and we would go walking to collect the best cuttings that he could lay his hands on. It was a project to plant them, nurture them and watch them grow. Winter at the front garden of the last bungalow of Police quarters of Mysore was a delight to behold. The rose bushes were in bloom. They were of varied colours and types. The Gardening mission at ‘Jalpuri’ quarters was accomplished successfully.
One evening, it was around 7:30 p.m. dad was cycling into the compound and stopped short. A huge King cobra slithered past him into the rose bushes. There was panic. Children were ushered in and asked to stay indoors. Dad carefully made his way into the house. Now who is to catch the snake or ensure that the snake goes out of the premises? Bora Of course. True enough, Bora walks in with a stick and soon enough all is well. Life returns to normal. Bora was a man on whom the family depended on.
Dad got transferred out of Mysore on a promotion. We had to move out. Bora was given a fond farewell. That evening, mom and dad generally spoke about Bora and the work he had done for us. At that point dad mentions about the background of Bora. Here it goes:
Bora was a farmer. He had served a prison sentence after killing somebody with a scythe in a fit of anger. He was released out of prison early due to good behavior and had nowhere to go. Mom wanted a gardener and the rest is History.
Would mom have treated him the same way had she known the truth? Hard to tell. I have always wondered, how dad could trust his family with a murderer? Don’t know who is the more amazing one at that – Bora or Vasudev Mallya?