04 August, 2021

Chemistry By Othello

An adoring niece paints a picture of the other side of C.N.R. Rao

Chemistry By Othello

I was born in a Kannada Brahmin family that traced its lineage to a mythical sage, but to my mother, English literature was religion. She believed the world was a stage and we were all actors upon that stage. “I’m Cordelia,” she’d say, and my childish imagination would work overtime in associating other members of my family with the characters in Shakespeare’s King Lear. When I first heard of cross-disciplinary scientist C.N.R. Rao, on whom the president recently conferred the national honour of Bharat Ratna, it was from my mother, whose cousin Indumathy was married to him. My mother called him Othello. Why Othe­llo, I still remember asking her. With humour and awe, she told me her cou­sin Indumathy was like the beautiful Desdemona, while here was this big, dark man, her husband, with prominent features, an aloof demeanour, and clearly no inclination for small talk, very much in love with his fair, petite and ever-smiling wife. Indeed, family grapevine had it that Prof Rao’s love for his wife bordered on obsession, which was...

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