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Bravehearts

People Ninety three year old Bu Bu Ramu, and N.S. Susheela, the daughter of another stalwart R. Natesan, recreated the heady days of the freedom movement

PHOTO:M. PERIASAMY

RAPT ATTENTION As Bu Bu Ramu speaks at Gandhi Museum

At a time when central India was bubbling with nationalistic fervour, a slender man from Ondipudur bicycled street to street, canvassing for supporters. He joined the likes of trade union leader N. G. Ramasamy to fight for freedom from British rule. They called him ‘Bu. Bu. Ramu,' since he was always seen with a metal sheet, shaped like a megaphone to announce meetings organised by his leaders. The ninety-three-year-old spoke of his days in a prison near Bellary during the inauguration of the photo exhibition of women freedom fighters from Tamilnadu. “I was 22 when I was jailed for four and a half years.”

Awarded with a 47 year prison sentence, Ramu asked his jailors to find out from his horoscope how much longer he had to live as he didn't care if he had to spend the rest of his life in jail. “Angered, the police cut off rice from my meals and served me only kali.” he recollected.

Brahmakumari N. S. Susheela, daughter of freedom fighter R. Natesan also shared her experiences as a child. “As the daughter of a freedom fighter who followed a strict set of principles, I faced a lot of difficulties. But as I grew up, I learned to appreciate his views,” she said.

“Father was a hard-and-fast Gandhian. So there was no room for any indulgence. Every evening after school, we would weave kadhi on the spinning wheel. We wore what we wove, silk was a definite no-no. I didn't even wear slippers till my marriage,” she smiled.

Susheela recalled how her father was arrested one morning just when he had sat down for his meal. “The police kicked the plate and slapped him hard across the face. He was jailed in Coimbatore for one and a half years.”

“Father used to say that every utterance of Vande Mataram resulted in whiplash. I remember asking him if it hurt, for which he shrugged and said, ‘Yes, it did. But, your skin gets used to the pain.'”

AKILA KANNADASAN

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