Thursday, July 25, 2013


REMINISCENCES OF JHC BY AN EXTINGUISHED OLD BOY Poet laureate Bharathiar in his thought provoking poetry said “Petra Thayum; Pirantha Ponnadum Natrava Vaninum; Nani Siranthanavae” the text as follows “The mother and the country you were born are the best and foremost cannot be equalled to any wealth in the universe”. True to the unique verse I would like to add one more, the college in which you studied. Everyone is passionate and loyal towards his Alma Mater as much as his mother and the home country. I am fiercely proud to say I have a deep seated connection with JHC because I am a descendent of one of the founders Advocate Nagalingam. His sister Katpaham was my maternal grand mother’s father Proctor Kandiah’s mother. Advocate Nagalingam was Brown Sinnathamby’s fourth son and his eldest brother was Tharmalingam whose son Proctor Sivagurunathan OBE generously donated his land for the construction of Hindu Ladies where it is located now. Sivagurunathar lane which branches from Brown Road was named after him. Coming to Brown Sinnathamby after whom the Brown Road was named is Advocate Nagalingam’s father. He had his early education at Batticotta Seminary, a prerequisite to gain entry is to accept the middle name given by the sponsor that was how he acquired the name Brown but he was not baptized. He after finishing his education joined Jaffna Central as a teacher and then the apostle of Hindu education Arumuga Navalar was also in the tutorial staff. Principal of JCC then Rev. Dr. Peter Percival wanted both to be baptised if they were to continue teaching both refused and rejected categorically and bade adios to JCC. I am privy to information of the past events thus I have written what I heard from the past reminiscences of my elders. Arumuga Navalar the apostle and a pioneer hindu educationist, a revivalist, a staunch savaite and a preacher on religious reawakening was totally against the Imperialists. His oratory is said, could change the hearts and minds to counter forced religious conversions. Being well versed in Hinduism and having studied in a Wesleyan school he delivered his speeches like a sermon that captivated the audience spell bound. He was hell bent on establishing a Hindu school from then on and started working on it amidst heavy odds and obstacles confronted. Meanwhile his counterpart Brown Sinnathamby went to India did law there returned and started practicing. The strong religious fervour of establishing a Hindu school was lurking in the back of his mind and he entrusted the challenge and daunting task to his fourth son Advocate Nagalingam who relentlessly worked on it and accomplished the task when the policy of colonial government was a stumbling block. I came out with this to emphasise the ties and strong bond I have with the college where I studied from the kindergarten to the Advanced level through and through but was never through in the AL exam. Besides my father for a short stint was the Boarding Master of JHC. He took over from KSS and handed it back to KSS. He was Junior Champion at JHC and later Senior Champion at Jaffna Central. He represented Jaffna Central in Cricket and Soccer together with his older brothers at one stage all three represented both teams. Asai Iyah captained Jaffna Central twice. I captained the College cricket team in 1966; my youngest brother Nagulendran captained the cricket team in 1970 and represented Ceylon School President’s eleven in 1970. My older brother played for the second eleven both cricket and soccer and at a bare age of eighteen joined Govt Service which deprived his chance of representing the first eleven. I joined the Jaffna Hindu Tamil School in year 1950 for my vernacular education, at that time the school was located in the present play ground underneath the sacred bo tree as you enter playground through the main gate. The parapet wall was not there and the entrance was through a side entrance through the College Lane. It was an open hall with wooden posts supporting the cadjan thatched roof and a partly cemented floor with cracks here and there. Classes were up to the third standard with a pre kindergarten class. Each level had two divisions there were four male teachers and two female teachers. Namely Kandiah Master, Sivarajah Master uncontrollable Suntharesan’s father, Ponnuthurai Master, Periyacca, Thondar’s mother, Sinnacca and her husband whose name I forget in all six. The notable feature was it was a co-ed school and was managed by the Hindu Board. The same year I left the Tamil school; it was relocated and established in the current location. I cannot forget the unpolished cement floor where on empty condensed milk tin filled with sand was spread and we began writing our vernacular alphabets, then on slates with wooden frames with slate pencils. We learnt our nursery rhymes in Tamil and in English rightly or wrongly by Ponnudurai Master and the numerical skills correctly in a hard way by Kandiah Master, who spared the cane without any mercy. In 1954 I entered JHC proper for my secondary education; it gave me a tremendous ego boost. My class was 4A, it was on the veranda next to the Boarding House, the new boarding block atop of the dining hall was not there. Jubilee Hall later named Cumarasamy Hall in memory of the emeritus Principal C.Kumarasamy was not there. There was a baby dormitory then known as Chettiar Boarding, housing the young hostellers next to present Cumarasamy Hall behind the official Residence of the Boarding Master KSS. We entered the school through the rear kondal tree entrance. There was “Appah” a make shift street vendor with his stationary items which was not stationary but on the move, he spreads his paraphernalia daily on the roadside before the rear entrance which included sweets, toffees, rubber inipu, bubble gum containing photos of wild west cowboys to whom we had the greatest fancy and fascination like that of Roy Rogers, water pictures which we painstakingly spit pasted in our tattered exercise books. Appah a stout elderly person struggled with his two hands to cater the need of several hands wanting to buy things almost at the same time hovering and covering him; especially after the first bell rang, it was a rugby tackle. He had a really tough time in the mad rush losing some items and in giving the correct balance. He was supposed to bundle and clear the place after the college commenced and the rear entrance was padlocked. In addition there were two women who sold grams (Kadalai) in measures with false bottoms they too faced tough times. Then there was Ramasamy the ice-palam vendor in his cart selling un-conventional un-hygienically prepared colourful ice-palam- at 5cts. The “Thumbu Middas” of psychedelic colours and the crispy sweet “nice” and seasonal berry sellers were there trading. As you step through the rear gate there were a row of class rooms on the left abutting the college road as it is now with a corridor leading to the hall accommodating the third form, Prep'SSC and SSC class rooms. On the right was the original Head Master Nevins Selvadurai’s bungalow which at the time was converted as part of the hostel and there were two classes on the veranda now the kondal tree and the bungalow are not there and a new building has sprout up. Then the present office complex was not there instead there was an L shaped row of class rooms extending up to the chemistry Laboratory. It was a semi permanent structure accommodating the sixth and seven standards separated by wooden screens so that it could be converted into exam halls during exam time. The college quadrangle was very spacious up to the staff room which was underneath the stairway that leads to the upstairs on either side and in between the staff room there was an archway that led to the main hall. On the left was the chemistry lab bordering that was a carport allotted for the principal and the famous Kips Apparatus the hydrogen sulphide plant was there. I am afraid I am taking you all on a virtual tour down the distant memory lane through the rear entrance even though I do not believe in going through the back door As we entered the Historic main hall of significance there was the king size portrait of the hindu revivalist Arumuga Navalar akin to Annagarika Dharmapala of the south, whose brain child is the proud premier Hindu institution. Underneath if I remember correct was a board with cloth fringes on the bottom depicting the names of founders? The amazing architecture of the hall still remains same. The huge pillars of the college on which the strong foundation had been laid are the hall marks of the towering strength of the stalwarts who founded the school. As young students it took three of us to hold each one of them right round its girth. The brick and mortar structure was built by the founders amidst all kinds of obstruction to withstand any kind of destruction. The founders are the pillars of success of the college who inspired, motivated to educate and uplift the society. Eminent people of the world ranging from Swami Vivekananda and since of late to former President of India Abdul Kalam had stepped and addressed students and public as well, in this prestigious hall of the premier educational institution. JHC has produced eminent engineers in fact it was a factory that turned out engineers during my time and is still, in the fields of structural, civil and architectural who have constructed massive buildings, bridges and columns of world class but let the JHC pillars remain as monuments of the founders. To remember the founders ever through and through there are five houses bearing their names Casipillai, Nagalingam, Pasupathy, Sabapathy and Selvadurai. I have given their names alphabetically as they equally contributed and coordinated in one way or other to establish the college. JHC though traditionally a hindu school it always had a pluralistic out look before the switch over to swabasha there had been Sinhalese students and before the establishment of Osmania College quite a good number of Muslim students belonging to Islamic faith had studied. I am ashamed to tell there were some who knew Hinduism much better than us and knew by heart thevaram, thiruvasakam. Through the hall on either side you find unprotected narrow staircases to go upstairs and as you step out is the main entrance on either side you find the stairway that leads to the up stairs on the right you find the Botany and Zoo lab and classes where the Botany and Zoology classes are held for A level students alternately. There was Lab boy Somu, a guy, good in administering chloroform to rats for elementary experiment. He was glamorous Ramakrishna Master’s rat catcher with mouse traps. He knew his stuff too, what I mean is little bit of taxidermy with his display on walls My Zoology teacher was MC. Francis a teacher who replaced the void of Mr. Ramakrishnan a veteran versatile teacher who wrote a text book on Zoology. In the Zoo theory class on the back ground in the rear wall were pictures of extinct animals drawn with the title “Our Bizarre Ancestors”. The situation turned out to be bizarre for me though my bench mark was above C level in the subject. The famous or otherwise infamous teacher classified me as an unwanted reptile under phylum “classai Vitu Poda” which paved the way to exit school extinguished. In the Botany class was Supramania Master, diminutive in size but a very dedicated teacher who taught chemistry as well with a very low boiling point, he got heated in no time. It is still a mystery how lab boy Rajaratnam managed to cope, may be by his ability to do the titration, he knew his turning point of temper and his body chemistry. I was conveniently classified by botany teacher as a weed. It may be because the actual potential of weeds was yet to be discovered by botanists and is still! In the Chemistry class I was an unwanted element, I was out of focal length in Physics class. I excelled in extra curricular activities and had all the potential of becoming a “Road Scholar” remaining a day scholar. Way back after leaving school, in 1998 there was a “Bumper Sticker” competition conducted by the Sunday Island newspaper. It was based on bumper sticker loyalty of schools, the theme was about a person sacked from all schools, I was adjudged the winner, and my winning quote is as follows; “Always a bumper never a sticker in all schools, now on the roads” I have been a winner several times in the competition page of The Island and one could say the cost of buying the news papers was squared by the cash prizes I have won. The puns submitted by me, still secure a place in the” pun of the day” website. I left school much anguished as an extinguished old boy. I was later distinguished in the Excise Department purely because the successive heads were able to identify my talent which my teachers in AL failed. They harnessed and elevated me to the rank of Excise Commissioner. I also got an extended welcome in the Excise after relinquishing service at 60 without applying for it being a Tamil which privilege is yet to be given to a Sinhalese even now. The exclusive grant or privilege was given by none other than the Executive President which I accepted and exited honourably after six months to pitch my tent in Australia and be with my children. The inspiration that induced me to write the quote on loyalty to schools by a person who was sacked from all schools was the angry out burst of Siva rajah master at unruly students “neengal Ellarum oru nal roadilay Nindu ratha kanneer vadipeengal” the text of it “one day you all will be on the roads shedding tears of blood” the tail piece “ratha kanneer vadipeengal” was repeated as if like an echo. He was a fair and square teacher with a round body, was an ex service man always well dressed in coat and trouser with a brown well polished leather shoes, walked with an army march with a rhythm, had a Humber dicky, I mean the model of his Hillman Minx car. He was supposed to have married a beauty queen which fact I do not know, I must ask my good friend Janakan who had been to his house. Once arrangements were made to receive a visiting dignitary with pomp and pageantry when he was the scout master, he assured the principal in order to curry favour and get a credit that he would be responsible for the decorations and guard of honour. He selected some volunteers from the scout troop and said it is your duty to bring twigs or rather foliage of coconut leaves and decorate with festoon on either side of the road. Janakan replied that main trunk of the coconut palm has no lateral branches and none would permit the tender shoot to be cut as it would be detrimental for its very survival thereafter. He commanded and roared with arrogance “tell them that Siva rajah Master said he needed them”. The thrill and adventure of getting out of school during school time was paramount in their mind. Happily they went out and tapped at the doors (not the trees for they would have got toddy) of nearby houses and requested, they were flatly refused, mentioning Siva rajah Master’s name was of no avail. Janakan got a brain wave and led the team to Sivrajah masters house at Koddady and explained their purpose to madam that Sivarajah Master wanted same and request was readily obliged. A few crowns of the young palms he nursed and nurtured were polished to the extent they may not survive later. He remained at school to oversee the decoration and every thing was done to his satisfaction. After the function he went home he was promptly told the story. When he saw the state of trees he was infuriated frothing mad. The next day the students knew the form and were prepared to face the worst case scenario, as he came to school he pitched into them for their notorious behaviour and demanded as to who suggested to cut the shoots from the young palms of his house? Janakan was caught in a dilemma when all the partners who aided and abetted in committing the crime turned their eyes towards him. When confronted he said “Sir who else other than your wife would part with the precious tender shoot, on telling your name”. That was sc-hooliganism the teacher had to grin and bear controlling his anger. Continuing the tour underneath the Botany & Zoo lab was Physics lab, the physics lab boy Kanapathipillai an amiable person ever smiling could be easily identified in the dark room with his smile because of his dark complexion and white teeth. Adjacent to it was our botanical garden bordering same were a row of lavatories and urinals common to hostellers as well. They were not water sealed instead the bucket system was prevalent and the urinals were not out of porcelain and glazed tiles but out of cement at waist level separated so that in each compartment about ten students can pee in. The awful stench that emanated was unbearable; our pair of shorts then did not have zips only buttons and our underwear did not have elastic bands to pee in a hurry. When you are in to urinate one has to plug the nostril nevertheless some took time in their painstaking effort to scribble in the choicest obscene language by charcoal and sometimes illustrated with diagrams the famous cartoonists will be nowhere. The stench forced me to practice bladder control to avoid a void! However much effaced and erased by “Kali” the permanent sanitary labourer the following day will surface new pop ups that was the graffiti or charcoal caricatures of characters of our days. Kali with his hefty body was in the forefront of the cheering party during soccer matches which normally ends in minor clashes and skirmishes providing security to our boys. He with his bare shining body and a handkerchief tied around the forehead and knotted behind the neck and sarong tucked up to knee level was a source of strength and a protective shield to our students. Above the chemistry lab was the library I cannot now remember the name of the librarian, later Mr. Satkunam an old student became the Assistant Librarian and a scout master too. His younger sibling Tharumu was a juvenile delinquent and was a “Maggona” reformatory returnee without much correction. He used to get him to do the dirty job of dealing with those who were funny with him as his bicycle tyres were frequently deflated. He then went as Librarian to Addalaichenai Training College. When I was working at Kalmunai in the year 1978 two quart bottles was the limit of transport of arrack and there were regular transporters who take two by two to akkaraipattu area and come over and over again but within legal limits. I used to see a person identical to Mr. Satkunam frequently transporting I doubted it was him, one day when he was passing the station after purchase from the tavern I happened to see him, I told my sergeant to intercept him and bring him. I was seated in my chair by then I had a huge moustache and had put some weight on, when he was hauled before me he could not identify me but I cleared my doubt. Standing with a mat bag in one hand, he said “Sir I have only two bottles” in a polite meek and mild tone. I asked him to take his seat and asked him whether he could make me out in Tamil; he was flabbergasted and nodded his head indicating no. I asked him whether he knew Balakumar, Prabachandran their friend. His face gleamed still he could not find me out when I said Sivanandan, he was vey much pleased. He said during the training college vacation he does it to earn some extra bucks a sad story anyway. Adjoining the toilet area was the Wood Work class passing the small shrine, and a very wide ditch with muddy stagnant water teaming with bacteria. Joseph Master ruled the roost without much supervision. He was charging 1 Re per student from each class to provide the foot ruler, Venus eraser, and HB4 Venus pencil. The same set was circulated to all the classes when V.Rasalingam raised the Venus pencil issue there was a point in it. It is now pointless sharpening that point. The schools infra structure did not have a bell initially instead a length of railway track hung vertically by the side of the chemistry lab and it was banged with a stout iron rod that created a musical resonance later replaced by a bell atop of the then staff room where both the staircases meet. Before the lunch break at 12.30 pm and at 3.45 pm at the close of sessions every eye of all pupils will be focussed on Kandiah our peon as he climbed each step and finally rang the bell. We watched the clock and remained focussed on kandiah’s second hand. At times his deputy Navaratnam did it; he later became the MP for Jaffna and entered the portals of the Parliament. One day somewhere in the year 1996 I went to “Shravasti” to meet then ex Minister and a co founder of EROS Sehudawood who was occupying same. I wrongly knocked at Mr. Navaratnam’s room he had by then lost his seat but was a Director of a semi govt. body he could not identify me I too did not reveal who I was, later when I told Sehudawood about it he said one of your teachers is also hear and showed me the room of the self proclaimed leader of TULF who taught me in the sixth standard. He too was unseated then, it was none other than Mr. Veerasigham Ananda Sangaree with whom everyone agree to disagree. One day our class mate A. Loganathan had a bet to bell the cat and rang the bell five minutes prior to the ending of school and as he escaped down the stairs, from the chemistry lab out came our Saravanamutu master with an element of surprise at the early ring, he saw logan hurriedly coming down did not intercept him but let the cat out of the bag that was the end of his JHC school days, later he joined Mahajana and ended as an engineer. V.M.Asaipillai was the principal at the time of my admission. He hailed from an elite family. It is said he proceeded to do the UK to do engineering where his ballroom dancing disrupted completing same and he ended waltzing in classrooms. He was impeccably dressed in Seville row attire and admired by everyone. He always had a handkerchief neatly tucked with the triangular corner protruding from the coat pocket and the other highly perfumed with the choicest scent in his trouser pocket despite the fact his car apple green EY 474 was parked by the side of the hydrogen sulphide generating kips apparatus, his sweet scent and fragrance drowned the pungency and stench of H2S. When he walked along the corridor we could hear the foot steps of his bright and shining John white and sweet fragrance over shadowed him warning the teachers and students, the principal was around and there will be absolute silence. He was a man of few words and on Sunday evening he comes to Pannai causeway to enjoy the breeze together with madam, the fact that he went to UK did not deter him from bringing her in the rear seat. It was sad he did not have any children so the front seat next to him was vacant. My Appah also used to take us in his rickety old Austin there my brothers and I were a bit scared and uncomfortable if our visits ever clashed with his since he was close to my father and he knew us too. C.Sabaratnam the Vice Principal was a terror, the Office then was at the side of the front main entrance when it was closed during college hours only way out or in was through the office door to KKS Rd. Exit of students was prohibited however the entry for late comers was through that. Within the office in the middle was a see through wooden enclosure for the principal on the left side was his table on the right was the table of Mr. Sivakolunthu the clerk. Our vice principal was hawk eyed and very sharp, he was the main pivot on whom the school revolved. He was a good disciplinarian and an excellent teacher. A wizard in mathematics it was the subject he taught, most of the time doing the administrative work. He knew Hall & Stevens School Arithmetic and Algebra by heart. Off hand he will ask us turn to page no. such and such question no. such and such and would start writing the question on the blackboard and ask us to do the exercise and after that he would explain and work out the answer and ask us to turn to page no. such and such for answer. He had a black Morris Minor car later updated it having a blue ford prefect No 4Sri 2209. He was a good bridge player and virtually played the game till very late in the night at the United Club which was next to the Public Library. There were instances when I accompanied my dad for his tennis routine he too was there busily engrossed in the bridge table. M.Karthigesan: An English Honours graduate of the Ceylon University, pioneer in the red movement did not want to accept state jobs because of his communist ideology and convictions. He had the charisma and could have easily entered the plum Ceylon Civil Service which was very lucrative but his karma; he opted to be a teacher whether he was right is left to you when it was considered” better be dead than be red”. He was our bombastic, caustic, ready witted very humorous English teacher, a mobile encyclopaedia who shaped the destiny of many of his students to flourish in their lives. I am one amongst them and owe him a lot. He was at the helm of administration but the stay in the hot seat was short lived as an overwhelming force displaced him to a remote school in Pandatherippu. He was accorded a farewell by the college staff and students and was presented with a “Road Master” bicycle in which the local walking lexicographer mounted and pedalled all the way to his new school, a sordid story of displacement perhaps it marked the beginning of the displacement saga in the peninsula. N.Sabaratnam: He took over from C.Sab. The stewardship as the principal and steered the college surpassing many milestones. It was more or less plain sailing for him because during his tenure he had a set of talented teachers and talented students too of course there were exceptions like me. Dressed in national he once played the pivotal role in the NPTA and was the kingpin of the association which was powerful and later was Vice president of All Ceylon Union of Teachers. A silver tongued orator in English with his extemporaneous speeches on any occasion in any subject illustrated his versatility. I have noticed he often used the word “perhaps” in his speeches. He had his sky blue EL 9046 Morris minor car in which he came from his Victoria Rd. home. He never wanted his son to be at JHC because he was the principal and admitted him to JCC from where he entered Medical College, who later became a Physician and saved several lives and served to the community like the father during the height of the civil war in the war torn Jaffna hospital. After retirement because of his journalistic prowess he joined as editor Elanadu publications writing headlines and facing dead lines. He proved JHC not only produces engineers who build columns but journalists who can write columns. He accepted the fact “Although the missionaries came to convert the locals, in the process they bequeathed all the modern intellectual necessities for a nation” Coming down the past principals of I am proud to say my classmate at Third form A. Srikumaran was perched on the top most pedestal as principal of JHC under the most difficult circumstances, confronted with conscriptions, constraints and conspiracies no other principal would have ever faced. His major problem was PTA not the Parent Teachers Association but the obnoxious Prevention of Terrorism Act. He braved all the odds and emerged victorious and kept the college flag flying high under looming gloomy war clouds. He boosted the sagging morale of the students to perform well and produce better results with flying colours, his achievements during a period of tension and turmoil will always be remembered in the annals of the history of JHC. In year 2002 I had the honour of being invited as the chief guest of the annual inter house athletic meet under his stewardship, it was a gesture of comradeship too though I was a fit and proper person at that time “Alai illa oorukku illupam poo sakkarai”. During my young early days school inter school soccer tournament was held in Pannai play ground. My dad was an office bearer of JSSA and used to take my older brother and me and my good friend late Nellailingam. One day when he took us Principal of Jaffna Central C.A Smith was seated in one of the chairs. He was as usual clad in white shorts, white shirt, white pair of shoes and white stockings spotlessly clean, a striking contrast to his black Labrador lying on the ground beside him. There was a vacant chair by the side of him on seeing my dad he signalled him to sit by the side of him and asked dad “Sinnathamby is he your son?” held me by his hand and asked me to sit in his lap. It was the first time I was touching the skin of a white man. I was absolutely uncomfortable in my soiled cloth smelling of sweat and mortally scared of the massive Labrador with pitch black shining fur occasionally having a glimpse at his master and me. I slowly slipped out of his grip and joined my brother. It was indeed a privilege to sit on the lap of a principal of a leading college of Australian origin. My conspicuous presence on his lap was a talk in the class the following day. K.V.Mylvaganam: He was virtually the lower school Head Master. He was an English teacher a very vociferous and forceful person. He was always dressed in full suit with a neck tie collar perfectly with a press and crease, on top a Prince of Wales hat that created an impression of an Englishman on the contrary with a dark complexion. It must be born in mind that in all leading schools in the British colony the medium of education was English and the English teachers played a crucial role in moulding the students to attain the basic grinding in the language to progress for higher education. King and Queen were ubiquitous whether it is currency or coins, exercise books or umbrella they were there, In short everything English. Apart from the fact we were not only constantly murdering the queen we went to the extent of mutilating maiming and disfiguring royal figures in the cover of our exercise books which tantamount to treason. Our respected and much feared teacher no doubt always carried a cane in his hand and his briefcase in the other, not only he gave us a good grinding of the language grammatically to face the future challenges but also taught us the dress code and code of conduct for ourselves to behave properly that was the cutting edge of his style of education. He conducted himself in such a manner for us to emulate. He taught us the basics which were not in the curriculum that helped us immensely even after leaving the college. He comes to school in his convertible hood car which was kept in mint order with a rubber horn which has to be squeezed by hand. He was like a Policeman even controlled the vendors on the street. He was a good sportsman during his school like the Caribbean cricketers. We have a photograph in our family album with a handkerchief tied round his neck with the pads donned seated and my father also my father in law and Mr Bobby selvadurai son of Emeritus Principal Nevins Selvadurai when they represented Jaffna YMCA. Ramasamy Master: Another dedicated teacher dressed in spotlessly clean well pressed white nationals. He was a tall fair and lanky and liberally used his cane to correct us as a result we were mortally scared to make mistakes and did our homework thoroughly to face his following class. He was not second to KVM Master in moulding the students, he was a good playwright, a dramatist and a grammarian who taught us letters and numbers and enhanced our numerical and alphabetical skills, His one and only son Jegs a legendary leg spinner who I would fearlessly say the first ever to ball googly in the peninsula. He played with famous brothers Suppar, Selvar and Appar (Ramalingam) and the other famous Veerasingham (Veeri) brothers Selvar. He inherited his dad’s numerical skills, domiciled in Sydney is a leading numerologist and a champion Bridge player who has won several trophies. Pundit K.Sellathurai: A dedicated and devoted teacher basically taught as Tamil Language and Literature had a wealth of knowledge which he imparted to us in a manner we could easily understand. He was a teacher who was dam too serious and believed in no playing or idling. When he was teaching the front benchers, supposed to be very studious get liberal doses of his saliva spray, as he salivated more than the rest of the teachers that probably indicates teaching was a delicacy for him. He was very observant noticed the mischief makers stealthily made his move catch them and give proper treatment. He did not believe in canes instead with the hands two slaps and a knock on your head in two is to one ratio and that was automatic and forceful. I was a hapless victim once caught and mauled by him; it was when Dr. W.Dhahanayake popularly known as “Bunis Mama” our Minister of education introduced buns. During tea interval at 11.00 we were served with a bun with weevils, because of it’s knead that was not needed by us though it was dough free of dough donated by USA. We at times threw pinched pieces at one another, while throwing same in the upstairs hall reading in the SSC form not noticing him behind; he caught me with an iron grip and mercilessly mauled me and dragged me down stairs to report to the principal. It was more or less like public caning as it happened in the open hall, halfway he let me go, he probably must have thought the punishment was enough and on top I was throughout very passive though very much humiliated merely because he was a saint more than a teacher. During rainy season when the cadjan thatched roof leaks and rain drops come sideways inside the classroom with gusty wind and we pushed our desks and benches to tide over and made excuses to abandon studies he would say in Tamil “Inku addathu malai peithalum viddathu padippu nadathapadum” the text as follows even if the rain is incessant the class session will go on without interruption” He was very punctual; the pundit was always on dot and will always remain a respected and much revered guru whose feet one can worship for his dedication. A.S.Kanagratnam: Known as ASK if you ask me is the best teacher in English. He taught us to write simple sentences grammatically correct, he discouraged us from attempting long sentences with high flown words and ending incorrectly. The vivid memories of the manner in which he taught us R.L Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” are still fresh and indelible in our mind. He was also inclined towards politics and contested Chavakacheri seat on LSSP ticket and was unsuccessful. He was well groomed and pleasant looking, immaculately clad in white national costume spotlessly clean always with well polished specially designed shoes to correct his gait. He comes to school in his Ford EY 4279 kept in top order. Captain P.Thigarajah: Our P.O.G, believe it or not, I do not think anyone in Jaffna of his contemporary era would have had such an array of suits of different shades and designs with matching footwear and head gear be it a bowler hat or a cap anything you name though he was afflicted with HIV syndrome (Hair Is Vanishing). Every time when we take group photographs he will come with one set which we would not have seen him wearing earlier. He was very strict and coached us well he must be really proud of having produced the one time Sri Lankan Hop Step and Jump record holder N. Balasubramaniam who later joined the SLAF. The versatile Jeyaratnam, Gunaratnam, Rajaratnam brothers who represented All Ceylon Hockey team. V.T. Ganeshalingam brothers so on and so forth. He was a pipe smoker in his prime and switched on to cigar later, He will be always shouting and yelling when we miss catches and go to the extent of shifting his position right round the ground and even setting the field. During nail biting finishes he will be chewing his cigar and we are sure to get barrages in the dressing room at times caned also. If we win matches in the host ground and when we return in the Cheenan’s bus shaped like half pound bread singing songs he also would join. His famous song was “Varayo en tholi varayo” Suppu our ground boy until he retired whenever we played soccer matches our ball was sure to be selected he knew how to inflate manually the correct air pressure and give a Dublin shine to the leather and seal the bladder opening. He was mortally scared of the POG who will not hesitate to spare the cane on him; he groomed his son to succeed him. It is apt to tell at this juncture of the three lady teachers who were teaching then. Needless to say they really would have faced a tough time teaching in an out and out boy’s school at a time when wives were taken in the rear seat in cars driven by their husbands. The women of their breed were the pioneers I would say spearheaded women emancipation in the overwhelmingly chauvinistic Jaffna society Chelliah teacher: She would have been in her fourties when I joined school, a very strict teacher who taught to the lower classes below standard six, though a lady the students were awfully scared of her she spared her canes sparingly but her pinches in your arm below biceps were unbearable like the winter cramp (Charlie horse) the excruciating pain persisted for sometime likewise what she taught remained in our head forever. Because of male domination in the staff room she opted to remain in the office of the Asst. Boarding Master Namasivayam a poor innocent good soul. He was usually out and the office was virtually bare, she relaxed there in an easy chair which was meant for her during lunch interval and free periods. Shanmuga teacher: She was comparatively younger and was unmarried then and taught very methodically for a good length of time. She was living in close proximity to the college only a hop step and a jump she went for lunch home, she was pretty too. It is said Kasi Visvanathan Master a young handsome young teacher well clad with a handlebar moustache who wore a short sleeved shirt and well tailored trouser with a neck tie, when he brushed past her when periods changed along corridor, there was a talk that he was making advances, whereas it was not true. I meant the class periods. My story will be incomplete if I do not mention about Andy Singho our handy man. He was the electrician, a down to earth guy and the live wire of the school. He was a bright spark, when ever the fuses were blown off during the study sessions of the hostellers, followed by a loud roar of students out of sheer delight for de-lighting, Andy would surface from nowhere diffused the tension re-fused and restored light. He did know what’s watt by his censors the cause of the failure and secretly conveyed the names involved in blowing the fuse to KSS through his late son Narendran. He was a Sinhalese from down south and was one amongst the students and the locals in our closed circuit having learnt tamil and got diluted until the much demonic ethnic cleansing swept him away from discharging his duty, it is indeed shocking. (Also there was Banda a kitchen hand assisting chief chef Murugesu whose delicacy was “payasam” on Fridays, another product which brought fame and name to our college. I am afraid my write up is exceeding in length and shall abruptly stop it, my absolute apologies for not giving a wider coverage enveloping all the teachers who taught me, these are flashbacks that came instantly to my memory the only diary I carry, not withstanding the fact continuous elbow bending exercises in the excise department imbibing liberal doses of alcohol had resulted in the death of good part of my brain cells, if at all I have some grey matter as suspected by some teachers in the advanced level class? (If this is liked by the readers I do not mind inking more by recollecting my memories from my think tank. The fluid of thought in my ink well is also slowly getting dried up.)

No comments:

Post a Comment