From Amma With Love

When I was 11 years old a major event happened in Madurai in which I played a small role. It was announced that the new Governor of Madras Presidency as it was called then, Lord Archibald Nye would come for a visit to our fair city. This was a big deal as usually to see the Governor you had to go to Madras where he resided six months of the year during the cooler months or to Ooty where he ran the government during the hotter parts of the year.

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My aunt Singari as a famous civic leader was tasked with organizing the welcome for Lady Nye. As usual for my aunt she undertook the project with her customary vigor, organizing the event at the old Madurai Municipal Building and writing a song for the occasion which me and two other young girls would sing when her Ladyship arrived. 

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Seven decades later I still remember singing this song after which Lady Nye, who didn’t speak Tamil, told us that she heard the word “varuha” repeatedly, which she assumed meant “welcome” and appreciated the sentiment. I’m sure my aunt was beaming in happiness as we played out our small part of her plan.

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Lord Nye was respected by Indians as well as the British and was asked by Prime Minister Nehru to stay on as Governor for a year after Independence, after which he served as the UK High Commissioner to Canada. Lady Nye was involved in a variety of charitable institutions named after her which continue to operate to this day in Tamil Nadu. But for me the little child, they were just some people in the grand event my aunt put together.