Chennaiite recalls meeting Gandhi in city

By Karthikeyan Halan Published on Aug 16, 2017 12:56 PM IST

Chennai: Talking to a 87-year-old person in K K Nagar, in the city, one can understand how the freedom movement fired even school-going children.

N Sadagopan, a resident of 11th Sector, hails from Nallan Pillaipetral village, then in South Arcot district and now Villupuram.

Born on 22 July 1931, he studied up to six standard in his village. ‘

"I still remember those days, where a group of students, including me, burning the British flag. In school, we were given British flag to be pinned on the shirt. We used to collect the flags and burn them to show our protest against those ruling us.’ The children in the village showed more interest in the freedom movement. There were around 400 houses and many used to take part in Satyagraha movement," he said.

‘"In 1945, three teachers from my village - Thiruvengadam, Sivalingam and Palani - participated in the Satyagraha started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Each one took part separately. We (children) used to give them rousing send-off by shouting Vande Mataram,’" Sadagopan recalled.

After studying class VI, Sadagopan moved to Chennai, where his brother was staying. He joined P S Secondary School, Alwarpet, and studied up to class VIII and later at Corporation High School, Nungambakkam, where  I completed class X.

‘"While studying at PSSS, Gandhiji came to Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya and stayed for three days. As I was staying at T Nagar, I visited the place all the days and saw Gandhiji from far,"said Sadagopan.

Asked about how he felt when the news broke out that India attained freedom, the octogenarian said, ‘"I was then studying at Corporation High School. When we went to school, the management declared holiday. Our country flags were hoisted in front of many houses and people were rejoicing. We saw them and returned home.’"

After completing school, Sadagopan did Teacher Training in 1954. For two years, he worked as proof reader at Sadhu Press run by V Kalyanasundaram, popularly known as Thiru Vi Ka.

Later, he got a government job in 1956 and started to work as teacher at Corporation schools in T Nagar, Alwarpet and West Mambalam. He used to teach all subjects excluding Tamil. He retired in 1989.

Sadagopan is a long-time resident of K K Nagar. He moved to the locality in 1979, after he was allotted a plot by Housing Board.

There used to be only nine houses in 11th Sector. Now the place has developed manifold,’ he said.

The octogenarian used to hoist the national flag at 11th Sector park during Independence Day celebrations and now is restricted to house, citing age factor.

Extending Independence Day greetings, he said  knowledge about the freedom struggle should be inculcated among  youngsters today and the government should take steps in this regard.

Sadagopan stays with his wife Shantha Kumari (78) at AP 954, 66th Street, Eleventh Sector, K K Nagar. The couple has three children and grandchildren. He can be reached at 94452 79845.