Blame me for falling for the pretty one again. In the space of a few blogs I have shamelessly hopped from Shereen Bhan to Leela Naidu.
Here’s the trigger: A lovely autobiography of Leela Naidu titled ‘Leela: A Patchwork Life’ that I read recently and which she co-authored with Jerry Pinto.
Leela Naidu (Born 1940 – Died 2009)
Crowned “Miss India” in 1954 and once recognized by Vogue in its “World’s Ten Most Beautiful Women” list, Leela was the epitome of beauty and grace. A fine actor who was a critique’s favorite though did not enjoy too much of box office success. Her father was the well-know nuclear physicist Dr. PR Naidu who had a mentor in none other than Nobel laureate Marie Curie. Legend goes that her maternal grandfather once fired a certain unruly young man from his factory for bashing up a co-worker. That fired employee was none other than what the world came to know later as the dictator Benito Mussolini and the lead anchors of the World War II.
There is a funny anecdote from Leela’s life that I am recounting here. Her aunt Sarojini Naidu, the legendary Indian Freedom Fighter, once sent her to their outhouse to meet Mickey Mouse.
Here I am leaving you now with this excerpt from the book recounting the encounter Leela had with “her Mickey Mouse”.
One day, when she was living at the Bhulabhai Desai House on the Bhulabhai Desai Road in south Mumbai, she called me to her. She handed me a box of chocolates and a bunch of gladioli from a vase.
‘Now go out to the outhouse and see Mickey Mouse,’ she said. I had my marching orders and I went to the outhouse. I knocked on the door and was called in. I was still expecting to meet the Disney character; instead, sitting on the bed was Mahatma Gandhi.
‘You are not Mickey Mouse!’ I said.
‘No?’ Gandhiji asked.
‘Your ears are big but they’re not big enough.’
‘Is that all?’ he asked and turned around to put on the other side light.
‘And you don’t have a tail.’
He laughed at that and put on the light.
‘So I am not Mickey Mouse,’ Gandhiji said, ‘but who am I?’
‘You are Gandhiji,’ I said.
I put the flowers down and gave him the chocolates. He took them and began eating immediately, as happy as a schoolboy with a box of tuck.