May His Soul Rest in Peace

by K Jambulingam

May his soul rest in peace

No one will deny that school and college days are most enjoyable and unforgettable. Can you afford to forget your spectacled history teacher or the absentminded professor?

Whenever I met our college mates we always gratefully remembered our Professors and the chapel and the English principal. Our English professor Mr. Smith was our Warden also. He was of course absentminded. But the stories about him were handed over by one generation to another. One of the stories ran like this. 0nce Professor Smith drove his Hillman car from Tambaram to Mount Road - a distance of 20 miles. He parked his car in the parking lot and got into the Higginbotham Book store. He purchased a few books and stationery. He came out and called a taxi and went to the nearest Electric train station and reached Tamabaram. He remembered about his car only when his wife asked him whether he had left it with the mechanic.

The second story was more interesting .0nce Professor went to Madras central station to see his wife off. He purchased a Platform entry ticket for self and journey ticket for his wife. When he came out of the station he was shocked to see the journey ticket in his pocket and the platform entry ticket was handed over to his wife.

I remember with gratefulness my Professor for he made a man of me. If only had he not spared me, I would not have completed my graduation.

It all happened during the festival of lights-Deepavali. People were celebrating the festival with all sounds and lights. We were asked to burst crackers in the playground. Some of my juniors were bursting crackers. Since it was dinnertime I went to the Mess. When I came out of the mess lights went off. There was pitch darkness on the campus. At a distance I could see the flickering light coming out of the chapel. I walked towards the chapel. Someone had kept a candle at the parapet wall. I took the candle and walked a few step and fell at the rope that was connecting the Austrian bell hanging at a height of 20 feet high tower. I got angry and set fire to the rope. It was not set to flame but all the same it started letting out smoke and slowly going up. I hurriedly made my exit. I told my roommate about this. Freddy got shock of his life. He told me that we must put out the fire somehow otherwise I would land in trouble. We went to the chapel. By the time the flint had gone more than ten feet. We could not save the rope. We returned to our room to spend a sleepless night.

It dawned as usual but the sound of the bell was not heard. The news spread like forest fire. Freddy told me to go and confess to the warden. I did confess. But neither did he speak a word nor he showed a sign of anger. My personal file was brought. My warden had a look at it. He asked his clerk to send a letter to my guardian and a copy to those who have vouched for my character and conduct when they had signed in my application for admission in the college. The bursar was called to assess the damage.

After a week, my grandfather accompanied by Rev Gerhard made his appearance on the campus. Meanwhile I was put under the care of my senior so that I would not run away from college. Who ever I met told me to be ready to go to gallows. Dismissal was definite and I would not get admission in any other college if the college confirmed my character and conduct were poor.

My grandfather and Rev Gerhard met the warden in his house. The matter was discussed threadbare. The warden asked my grandfather to pay a sum of Rupees two hundred (Which was a great sum in those days) towards the cost of the rope that they had replaced. The warden told his clerk to make mention of this incident in my dossier and to issue me a warning. My grandfather said that the punishment given to him was more than that of mine. He asked me to ring the chapel bell for a week.

My warden and Professor laughed it away. I rang the chapel bell for a week. I am a Schoolteacher now.


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