My grandfather, father, uncle and elder brother were all musicians. I dont recollect much of my early childhood because I lost my father when I was four. My father was to be named the state musician of Hyderabad, but we suffered a major financial crisis after he passed away so much so that we had to go without food for several days together. At the age of seven, I started playing the tabla and performing at functions. Each programme meant that I would get some money (Rs 5) to contribute towards the expenses of the house. Five rupees used to be a big amount in 1937. I used to play so well that if I happened to be indisposed, the programme would be postponed.
I never attended school. I would take my books and start for school but would sit down on a pavement on the way and listen to music. I had no time for sports, though I had the inclination. Today I fulfil my childhood desire by playing cricket with eight-year-old kids on the street.
I remember two distinct incidents. Once, we stayed at a Nawabs Palace. His car was parked on a slope. My younger brother, cousins and I got into the car, meddled with its keys and switches, and soon the car started off down the slope. We were inside the car and we didnt know how to apply the brakes. Meanwhile, people had gathered. They stopped the car and got us out. My elder brother spanked me severely for that.
Another time, my friend and I decided that we would go for a ride. We caught hold of a donkey near the Mousa river in Hyderabad. Now, my friend knew how to mount the donkey. So he went for a ride and returned. It was my turn next. I mounted the donkey from its rear. The angry animal promptly kicked me off its back with its hind legs!
Being the youngest of three children, I was very attached to my mother and took care of her till her death. I firmly believe that if one serves ones parents, their blessings will always be showered on them. The child in me is still alive and prompts me to indulge in cricket and a game of marbles with kids even today.