Sunday, Mar 31, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
When Justice Zakeria Mohammad Yaqoob of the Constitutional Court of South Africa decided on a long holiday_full of serious work, though_along with his wife Anuradha, his old friend Bala Mudaly, who now lives in Australia, decided that he too would visit this land of his ancestors to meet his buddy.
Presently touring together somewhere in south-western India, both Justice Zakeria and Dr. Mudaly were here last week. While Justice Yaqoob, perhaps the only blind judge in a senior position in the whole world, was attending a series of programmes complete with lecturing on apartheid and democracy, human rights and meeting the physically challenged in the Pink City, Dr.Maudaly quietly followed him wherever he went, savouring the moments of togetherness.
Justice Yaqoob was news but this quiet person shadowing him remained an enigma until one found out. "I came to India to spend two weeks quietly with Zach--that is what we call him. We were together in the South African National Congress,'' Dr.Mudaly explained. At that time, young Yaqoob was a degree student at the University College in Durban which is now the University of Durban-Westville of which Justice Yaqoob is the Chancellor.
Dr.Mudaly left South Africa in 1988, before he could enjoy the fruits of freedom they had striven hard to achieve. ''I was unemployed for long. I needed to make a living,'' he said, revealing the compulsions of existence. He was prompted to go to Australia as his wife Neerosh's family was already there. Dr.Mudaly presently is a practising psychologist.
Unlike Justice Yaqoob, whose parents left Gujarat for South Africa, Dr.Mudaly's ancestry is vague and he knows only this much _that he is of Tamil origin. This is because the migration of his family had taken place at the time of his late father's grandparents.
``My father, Narsu Subramani Mudaly, died at the age of 83 in 1990. My ancestors reached South Africa as labourers in sugar plantations. We used to speak Tamil at home,'' he said. Yet Dr. Mudaly never tried to find out his roots even though he comes to India periodically.
``I did not try to find out. I know there are people who painstakingly make efforts. But in my case it is going to be difficult as my ancestors left long back. Moreover, one has no time left after trying to make a living,'' he explained it this way. ''Do you think anyone back in Tamil Nadu can help me in this '' he asks rather innocently.
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