Even as there was confusion about Bal Thackeray’s oscillating health over the past week, residents living on a quiet Pune street were unaware of their connection to the dying old man.
Thackeray’s father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, or Prabodhankar as he was more popularly known, lived in a rented ground floor apartment at Natu Wada on Barrister Gadgil Street in Pune. When Thackeray was born at Indirabai Khade maternity home in 1926, Prabhodankar was living in the same apartment.
After Prabodhankar’s printing press shut down, he relocated to Mumbai. Thackeray was only two or three years old at the time.
The ground on which Natu Wada stood now houses Sarthak Building, owned by a Ramesh Kuvar, a retired assistant regional transport officer.
Earlier, the Wada was purchased by Ramchandra Krushnaji Natu on July 6, 1892 from the original owners: the Datar family. Sagunabai Datar, a widower, sold part of the Wada to Natu. His grandson, Vasant Ganesh Datar, is now 86, and told DNA that Sagunabai sold the Wada to Natu in 1892.
Later, Natu Wada was purchased by Govind Narhari Siddhanti on September 10, 1981 and eventually Kuvar purchased it from Siddhanti in 1985. The original building’s wooden structure was preserved even when the property changed hands twice.
Incidentally Kuvar purchased the plot on Januray 23, the same day as Thackeray’s birthday. Sarla Ramesh Kuvar told DNA, “As my son’s birthday falls on January 24, we wanted to sign the agreement on the 24th but since it was a holiday on that day in 1985, we signed it a day earlier, on 23rd.”
Marathi writer and educationist NM Joshi told DNA that Bal Thackeray had released his book on late general Arunkumar Vaidya a few years ago. During the function, Joshi’s friend DG Abhyankar insisted on meeting Thackeray and handed over a note to him when they did. Joshi recalls, “Abhyankar had written on the piece of paper that he now stays in the house where Thackeray was born. Soon after reading the note, Thackeray confirmed the same.”