Home Feature Memories of a beautiful heritage house – “Myne Owne”

Memories of a beautiful heritage house – “Myne Owne”

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By KULBHUSHAN KAIN

It was a house with a name that was spelt differently “Myne Owne”. I often wondered as to how a Britisher had got the spelling wrong – shouldn’t it have been spelt “Mine Own”? When I asked my Dad, he shrugged his shoulders and replied “Not really. The owners wanted it to be spelt differently -some people like to be different”. At that age (I must have been 6 or 7 years old), I could not appreciate the desire, or the logic of Mr C. R. Buckley the owner, as to how by spelling a name differently – it became different.

Nearly 40 years later, when I named my newborn son Pratik, I spelt it “Pratique”.

I wanted to be different!! Myne Owne was different in more ways than just the way its name was spelt. For one -it was owned by Vidyasagar Bhushan, a relative of mine who was married to a “foreigner” – Ruth, a Britisher from Southampton in England. As far as I can remember he was my only relative who was married to a foreigner. Sagar Uncle as we addressed him, was a Commander in the Indian Navy, who had come to Clement Town to attend a wedding when my father convinced him to buy Myne Owne which was adjacent to our house. Thus, he bought the property by chance. It was also at Myne Owne that I first saw a white German Shepherd “Neena”. She was Sagar Uncle’s pet and very popular. She was white because she carried the recessive, white-furred gene. I haven’t seen a white German Shepherd since then.

Our bungalow and Myne Owne shared a common fence. Like our bungalow, it was a typically British bungalow. The walls were plastered with lime to keep the rooms cool. The ceilings were at least 30 ft high. It had a covered verandah running across the front in a semicircle, it had outhouses in which lived “khansamaas” and gardeners, it had a kitchen not within the house– but outside the house. A small, covered portico connected the main house with the kitchen. Gravel was strewn all around the perimeter of the house – to make it difficult for cobras to slither in. The house had lots of fruit-bearing trees. The garden had the most exotic flowers. It had a big well. Birds chirped incessantly throughout the day and butterflies never got tired of hovering effortlessly over the flowers. Since the house had a huge compound-it also housed a dairy and hen houses!

It was a big house and in one portion of it stayed another relative of ours – Ram Swarup Joshi, with his wife Beda and their three sons.

We were neighbors – but that was just in name. All of us lived like a big family – separated by a wicket gate and a lush green fence.

Some of my best memories revolve around Myne Owne. I grew up with Mahesh, Anil, and Munish (sons of Beda Aunty and Swarup Uncle). We walked everyday to St Mary’s school together and later when we shifted to St Joseph’s we got on to the school bus together from the same stop. We climbed the trees and skinned our knees. We hunted down birds with our catapults (though I would not do it now-it’s such an unequal hunt). During the rains – the small drains which carried the rainwater would become fishing streams!! We would continuously keep scooping up water with our hands to see the tiny fish!! At other times we would make paper boats and sail them down these small streams. At night the fences and small shrubs would be twinkling lights – the fireflies would get busy on them.!!

Another memory that is etched in my mind is of having innumerable meals at Myne Owne. Since our families had migrated from Burma, the food habits and way of eating were similar. We would sit on a low circular table on mats. Rice which formed our staple diet was eaten with two iconic Burmese dry prawn chutneysNiyotijo and Balachuang!!

With the passage of time, Myne Owne was sold, and everyone moved away.

The last time I saw Myne Owne as it used to be, was about 8 months ago. I asked my driver to park the car at the crossing of the road which was the old bus stop. I walked through a cobweb of small shops and houses and reached it.

Yes! It stood there. Proud and stately.On one gate pillar was inscribed “Myne Owne”. There was not a single soul in sight. Sixty years ago -either Jack or Neena would have let out a friendly bark to welcome me.

As I stood, a tsunami of memories hit me!! The bungalow was run down, but the semi-circular verandah was intact. It seemed deserted -yet it seemed to beckon me. A passerby asked me whether I was looking for someone or something

“Yes-yaadein (memories)”, I replied.

A few days ago a festering dispute saw Myne Owne, forcibly and illegally razed to the ground. The magnificent structure now lies in a heap of rubble and litigation. Anyone can admire a creation. However, only a invader sees beauty in demolition.

Myne Owne was demolished because it could not run, or walk away from the invaders. But for someone like me-each brick in the rubble seemed to tell a tale.

I picked up one brick and brought it with me. It is a part of Myne Owne. Now, it’s mine own.!!!!

(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at kulbhushan.kain @gmail.com)