Epistles from the past

From a very young age, letter writing was Dr. Hussain Nainar’s chosen means of communication. We have found over 10,000 letters to family, friends and professional acquaintances, dating from 1920 until his demise in 1963.

Here is a selection from his vast correspondence that reflects upon a time gone by.

Letter and detailed documents from R.Vasudeva Poduwal, Secretary Labour Welfare, Gemini Studios, Madras, asking Dr. Nainar to intervene on behalf of the studio to reclaim the money owed to them by J.Arthur Rank Film Distributors (Indonesia) for screening their Tamil film Chandralekha in Indonesia, in 1954, through proper banking channels. Dr. Nainar was often called up to mediate or act as a government representative to deal with Indian expatriate affairs during his study tour to Indonesia.

A postcard dated October 6, 1920, from Hussain Nainar in Madurai, where he was studying in American College, to his elder brother S. Kadir Muhammad Nainar, who was preparing to study law in Madras at the time.

Letter from Zakir Hussain (1897-1969), then Governor of Bihar, and later President of India, to Dr. Nainar, December 6, 1961.

Letter from Polish thinker Ismail Wieslaw Jezierski, to Dr. Nainar, November 16, 1951, Krakow, Poland.

Letter dated July 7, 1937 from M. Naimur Rehman, professor of Arabic, University of Allahabad, to Dr. Nainar. Mr. Rahman was Dr. Nainar’s tutor in Madras University, and later, a good friend.

Instructions for Dr. Hussain Nainar, from Sir Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb (1895-1971), one of his three guides on his doctoral studies at School of Oriental Studies, London, dated March 2, 1936.

Letter from G. Mohamed Ali Marakkayar, Porto Novo (Parangipettai), dated December 11, 1940, on Dr. Hussain Nainar’s work on Tamil mono-drama Seethakathi Nondi Nadagam, with some historical details about Seethakathi’s work in Calcutta.

A letter from P.PR Subramanian Chettiyar, the founder of the Sri Lankan Tamil newspaper The Virakesari thanking Dr. Hussain Nainar for his help during his seven-month tour of South East Asian countries. March 3, 1956

A letter from American politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908-1972), conveying New Year’s greetings on January 4, 1956, to Dr. Nainar. It is possible that the two would have met during the Bandung Conference, a conclave of Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, which took place on April 18 to 24, 1955 in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Dr. Nainar attended the conference as a representative of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Letter from Indian linguist, educationist and litterateur Suniti Kumar Chatterji, dated March 6, 1954, where he describes his study of and exposure to Indonesian culture and history, along with Rabindranath Tagore in 1927.