Mother’s Day | She was the biggest influence in our lives: Anand Amritraj

"We wouldn’t be here without her foresight," Anand Amritraj says about his and brothers Vijay and Ashok's mother Maggie.

Anand Amritraj with his mother, Maggie.

As the eldest son, I shared a special bond with my mother. As a kid, I was interested in chess but she got me into tennis. She got us (brothers Anand, Vijay and Ashok) our first racquets, got us into coaching, and without her foresight we wouldn’t be here. She was a player herself and she loved the sport. In fact, my parents used to play each other and we used to watch.

My father wasn’t involved very much in our careers early on. He was like a typical Indian father back then, unlike me or the fathers now who are so involved in their children’s pursuits. My mother literally managed everything – from cooking to cleaning to chasing us throughout the day. We were not a super-wealthy family; upper middle class, I would say. We had to make do with what our father brought home. But she started her own packaging business and that funded all our tennis. We couldn’t have done it with just my father’s salary. My morning coaching fee per month was alone ₹100 and my father made ₹1,000 per month. One-tenth of the salary on one son’s pastime was unheard of then.

It’s actually a nice story how I got into that morning coaching routine under Mr Rama Rao at the Madras State Tennis Association. The secretary, Dr Rajan, asked my mother what she wanted her son to be. My mother said, “He is bright and he can be anything – a chartered accountant, a doctor, a lawyer, an IAS officer, etc.” Rajan in turn said, “We have many accountants and doctors, but we have just one Ramanathan Krishnan!” If that incident had not happened, there wouldn’t have been us! I sometimes feel sorry for my father because at the end of the day it was a joint effort. But I would emphasise my mother’s role. It was her vision and focus that made us.

This Mother’s Day will be my second without her. It’s a sad feeling. But I’m happy that she lived till 92 and there is no question that she was the biggest influence in our lives.

As told to N. Sudarshan.

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