Re-visiting PWC


April 12, 2012

Once some boys in my class decided to lock the ‘geometrical drawing’ master out by shutting all windows and the louver-door in a classroom immediately underneath the College clock. Earning a reputation as a bunch of notorious ‘incorrigibles’ who were being transferred from one room to another after every act of mischief, teachers were naturally thrown into perplexity not knowing where we were.

It happened to be the last period of the day and boys managed to hold up till the final ten minutes in complete darkness until a curious student slightly shifted louvers in a window to take a glimpse when the particular teacher was in the corridor, very next to the classroom and walking in a haze.

An excited voice within the classroom shouted “shut it…. shut it.. Men!” which gave a clue to the master where we were hiding. Within minutes a thundering voice was heard saying : “Open the bloody door” with a forceful kick which nearly flung the door open. Someone in the classroom announced: “Don’t open… don’t open,” but the enraged voice thundered even louder: “Never you mind,  open the bloody d…..o …..o… r……..!” . Fuming Principal entered the classroom like a rocket with a long cane.

Sorrow amidst fun

Gnashing his teeth, the Principal wanted to know who was responsible for the loutish act. Dead silence of unity prevailed as usual and the final result being we all received three cane lashings on our buttocks.

In the midst of the hullaballoo the final bell to dismiss the college went off and we were detained for 45 minutes after school, for which poor teacher too had to hang around with us.

As much as fun and disorderly behaviour, we experienced the most tragic moment in our time when one of our beloved teachers committed suicide inside the laboratory by swallowing a concentrated concoction of acid. That morning the teacher walked up and down across the classroom in a pensive mood. At 2.45 pm there was pandemonium and everyone rushed towards the laboratory with the news of a suicidal incident.

Frightful scene

Later we learnt that our master had befriended the lab technician in advance and diplomatically done his homework. On this particular afternoon, sending the lab technician out to buy some cigarettes, he swallowed a concoction of noxious acid.

It was a frightful scene to watch when a senior prefect (the late Ronnie Abeysinghe) carried the dying teacher on his arms like a child. Some antidote had been administered immediately inside the lab but his tongue had completely dissolved along with part of the clothes he was wearing.  He was rushed  immediately to Lunawa Hospital  where he died, but such madness and sadness is ingrained in our memory as the worst experience at PWC.

It gives me the shivers, even today, when I evoke that horrible scene. The feeling that remains with me is that despite this misfortune, he was a great teacher even though he may have had his own reasons for doing what he did….something like taking his own life! I wish we were old enough for him to have been able to talk to us. Or we could have been there to help him out.

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