Further to the details of the visit to Mrs deMellow, here is a letter from Mr. I.L. Bhatia that is of importance. We apologize for the misspelling of the names and will be correcting this error now.
OCA Web Team
I thought I must tell you about a couple of changes which you ought to make in the write-up based on factual position. These are broadly as under:
Melville Frederick Oswald deMellow. Born on 28.04.1913. However, he used to write Melville deMellow which he used to pronounce also as “The News Read by Melville deMellow”. deMellow is one word with d small.
Mrs. Coralie Emma deMellow (also known as Jane).
(I have purposely given the correct spellings as both of them were very sensitive persons, more so in the matter of their names. Editor: Our apologies. Corrections being effected!)
Mrs. deMellow’s elder sister lives in Bangalore along with her son is not able to come to Delhi, since he looks after his mother.
Her brother – Dr. Stephens (A Medical Doctor) who is 100-years old lives in New Zealand.
All three have 90% hearing impairment. I am somehow in touch with both of them through mails or at times I connect these persons on my mobile so that Mrs. deMellow can speak to them on special occasions like Birthdays, WAs etc.
Assignment with Radio:
Mr. deMellow was a regular employee of AIR on a 58-year contract. All the performing artists in AIR (there was no Doordarshan then), were termed as Staff`Artists and initially were given a five year contract. Later, it was decided to give them a contract till 58 years of age – to be at par with the Govt. employees. Although Mr. deMellow’s contract up to the age of 58 years expired in 1972, he continued to get extension of two year contract till 1978. He retired in the scale of a Joint Secretary. The only difference between Staff Artists vis-à-vis Govt. employees was that while the former were not entitled to Govt. Pension, the latter were entitled. This distinction was also done away with in 1982 when all the Staff Artists were declared Govt. servants. However, by that time, Mr. deMellow had retired and therefore all SAs who were in position prior to 1982 were not entitled to pension. Mr. Jasdev Singh who was trained by Mr. deMellow is getting a fat pension as he retired after 1982. In short, he was not paid on assignment basis but was getting regular salary every month. The ex-gratis payment of Rs. 1500/- was sanctioned by AIR in 2009 when she had corresponded with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi as advised by me. But it was suddenly stopped as the Prasar Bharti Board had stopped all such payments. The DGs of AIR whom I knew personally (Ms. Noreen Naqvi and presently Mr. Liladhar Mandloi) could not get it restored as it was a Board’s decision. The article in the newspaper was a subtle message for AIR in their ignoring the widow of a Padma Shri broadcasting icon!
I worked with Mr. deMellow exactly for ten years from 19.08.66 to 18.08.76 when I moved out after qualifying the UPSC examination. Even after I got shifted to administrative line, I was in touch with deMellows and was considered a family member. After the untimely death of her husband, Mrs. deMellow did not want to live in Kalkaji and wanted to be shifted to Saket so that she can be some where near to my residence.
After working in several Departments and Ministries of the Govt. of India, I superannuated in April 2004 after working for more than six years as Chief Vigilance Officer in the Ministry of Water Resources. Immediately thereafter I joined as Adviser in AAI where I worked till February, 2012 All these years, I have tried to help and assist her in every possible manner which she gratefully acknowledges as well. I do it out of compassion rather than any compulsion. Practically all workers and residents know me who go to her house immediately in case of a problem and also immediately inform me when she has a problem.
While I have not been introduced to Mr. Vijay Khurana formally, nor in a detailed manner to Mr. Neel Mehra and Mr. B.M. Singh, I thought of giving you my background and therefore this detailed mail. Breda Dayal came in to picture 4-5 years back only and I had no idea as to who she was, till I was introduced to her about 3 years back. Mrs. Dayal is an Irish lady who genuinely helps her whenever she can.
When I met both the above gentlemen the other day, I had emphasized that the best thing would be to depute someone to try get her a fixed monthly amount with which she can live a decent life. Perhaps, you can concentrate on that and in the meantime, as was requested during our inter-action with them, to arrange for a lady assistance from 8 am to 8 pm. Since I am also now +68, I do not have much energy left to run around. Still I do help her and regularly see her to meet her medical and grocery needs, payment of all bills etc. despite the fact that it has genuinely impacted my life in a way! My only interest is that she should pass the remaining years of her life as she would like to do and therefore despite telling her about the old age homes, never compelled her to shift there as she is comfortable staying in her home.
For any other information, you can contact me whenever you feel like doing it.
With best wishes,
Last week, B.M. Singh – the initiator and Neel Mehra – the backbone of this project; visited Mrs Coralie
DeMello deMellow. A couple of their photographs are shown below, with Mrs DeMello deMellow (she is called Jane by those who know her), Mr I.L. Bhatia and Mrs Breda Dayal.
Neel Mehra with Mrs Coralie
DeMello deMellow flanked by Mr. Bhatia and Mrs Breda Dayal ~ BM Singh with Mrs Coralie DeMello deMellow flanked by Mr. Bhatia and Mrs Breda Dayal. Click for larger picture.
Much of what we know about Mrs
DeMello deMellow has come to us from Breda who regularly visits the lady. Mr I L Bhatia was a secretary to Mr Melville DeMello deMellow. A hard working and devoted friend he joined government service and retired after a successful career. He now lives in the same complex as Mrs DeMello deMellow and is a person she trusts. He is there to support her in any manner that he can. Mrs DeMello deMellow has confidence in both these persons and that is a statement in itself when people at that age, 95 years, begin to develop fears and insecurities of their own.
DeMello deMellow, the nonagenarian, exhibits all the signs of physical ageing but is remarkably free from social ageing. Her intelligence and her cognitive processes have not declined. Thin and emaciated, she has her wits about her. Her hand writing is remarkably stable and steady. She writes her own cheques and is aware of the balance in the account, which is now in a precariously depleted state. What is impaired is her hearing. She has a high sense of insecurity (“What do I do when I am alone and frightened? !!” ) She is terribly lonely, alone but concerned at the cost of a presence. “If someone comes to work and stay with me during the day, do I have to make her tea? Who is to feed this person? ” are the kind of questions that draw her attention. She has no near relative around her. A sister, older than her lives in Bangalore in a home for the aged and an even older brother in New Zealand. There is no contact with any of them except that the same genes are healthy and operative in all three cases!
It is fear, the dread that comes with being all by yourself, that afflicts her most. It haunts her constantly inspite of the assurances of those who have made an effort to help her. She feels helpless and that apprehension is a constant theme. Accompanied by penury, it takes on a hue all very dark and with uncomfortable tones. The saving grace is her frequent return to balance when she is assured that she is not isolated and unwanted. To alleviate that sense of dismay is not easy and the care givers make a constant effort. It is loneliness of the night that she dreads the most.
DeMello deMellow eats twice a day, the breakfast and the lunch are her only meals and they are understandably frugal. She has declined to move into an old age home and is keen to retain her dignity and her independence. Understandable. She has lived an active live and this is apparent when you learn that she was teacher of Russian until 2002.
She remembered Melville telling her about his wonderful years at BCS. He was there from 1925-9. She recalls he would go up to The Ridge to practice his speech with the use of raw eggs. I wonder how he did that!! Well whatever technique he used was superb because his commentary of Gandhiji funeral, the Republic Day parade or a India hockey final are still remembered for the vividness of their description of the event. It left you spell bound for its detailed narration in a voice and language that painted a picture that was animated and eloquent.
DeMello deMellow passed away in 1989. He was not a permanent employee of All India Radio and was therefore paid on an assignment basis. His last employment was with the Sports Authority of India who hired his services for the Asian Games in 1979. After that stint they kept him on until 1989 and he passed away. Out of compassion, an ex-gratia payment was made to him of Rs 1,500 every month until last year when it was discontinued. The absence of this source and the continual dipping into their savings has resulted in Mrs DeMello deMellow facing a financial closure of sorts. She has no savings and no source of income. She is without funds of any kind. What little gold she had was sold. That is hard for any woman but the compulsions of the situation were such with little option available.
To offer Mrs
DeMello deMellow immediate relief, B M Singh and Neel Mehra have disbursed an amount of Rs 10,000. Further action is contemplated to ensure that the lady is well settled and offered complete care. Her insecurity and the surrounding uncertainty must be eliminated so that she can pass the rest of her days with a degree of equanimity and comfort. This is what we aim to do.
The contributions are still coming in and more will be welcome. We aim to develop a fund where we can support Mrs
DeMello deMellow with a month payout. Currently we estimate this to be approximately Rs 10,000 per month. Given our initiative, it is possible that other organisations may want to assist in taking care of Mrs DeMello deMellow. We will need to assess the need and act suitably.
The time and effort of B M Singh and Neel Mehra must be appreciated. They are patient, dedicated and compassionate individuals whose efforts must be lauded. Their efforts reflect on the rest of us OCs and describe just the kind of people we are and want to be!!