Indore Diaries: Meeting with the Nayudus
“Ohh! You are the one who has written the book on my father," she said while coming out of her room with the help of a walker. I nodded my head as she asked me to take a seat. The lady in question was Chandra Nayudu (who is in her early 80s), India’s first female cricket commentator and daughter of legendary cricketer Col. CK Nayudu. I was in her house in Indore last week to present my book - ‘A Colonel Destined to Lead’.
“Nice title you have chosen”
Looking at the book she said, “Nice title you have chosen”. I could see the pride in her voice as she started speaking about her father. Her sitting room was full of CK’s (as he was called) photos. Having heard stories about CK, I asked if she too was scared of the great man. And her reply was, “Of course, I was. We all were”. Incidentally, she had also a written a book on her father which mainly covered CK’s family life.
When I showed her the photo of the silver bat which was presented to CK in 1926 by the MCC and had been donated by her to the Cricket Club of India (CCI), she seemed delighted. She said, “See, it did not make sense to keep all his memorabilia at home. It is for the cricket lovers to see rather than lying in dust at home." Along with this bat, she had also presented CK’s scrapbook to the CCI.
I then asked her about how she got into commentary and she said that it was a challenge that she had taken. Apparently, like her father (who was India’s first test captain), she also wanted to be the first to do something. So, she had inherited some of her father’s traits.
“We women want to appear good even at this age”
I was stunned when even at this age she had a business card. As I gave her my card, she asked her domestic help to get her card from inside. Her domestic help told me that they had been discussing my book the day before my meeting with her and she must be happy to have it in her hand today. I then expressed my desire to take a snap of her’s and immediately she was conscious about how she was looking. She laughed and said, “We women want to appear good even at this age."
I clicked her picture and sought her blessings before leaving the house at Manormaganj, which once used to be CK’s home. Today, there stands a multi-storeyed building and Chandra Nayudu lives in one of the flats in the apartment.
On the next day, I was lucky enough to get the contact of Sunlaini Nayudu, another of CK’s daughters. With folded hands she greeted me at her house and said that she isn’t a cricket enthusiast like her elder sister. In fact, she stopped watching the game after her father’s playing days. But she did have fond memories of how the entire family used to go to watch the matches of the Holkar team.
Like Chandra Nayudu, she also showed me many photos. Among her collection, there was a brochure of the stamp issued on cricketers by the government of India in 1996. I asked if I can click a picture of it and her reply won my heart. She said, “You can take it." I was thrilled, to say the least. After presenting my book to her, I came out enriched with some more stories about CK.
I left Indore, which after Bombay (now Mumbai) can be considered as the cradle of Indian cricket thanks to CK and the glorious Holkar days with the satisfaction of having met the Nayudus. I just hope that as Chandra & Sunlaini Mam turn the pages of my book, they are able to re-live the memories of their father.
And if it ends up bringing a smile to their face, I would have succeeded in my endeavour in writing the story of Indian cricket’s first superstar.