Chemistry teacher was quite the opposite. Being a woman, she was gentle and petite but could not possibly control our class. Always draping her sari with a long tail behind, and wearing a ‘pony tail’ hair style, she used to walk up and down the classroom while lecturing. My good old friend Pemasiri (whom I have not seen for decades) who was seated next to me used to ‘wallop’ her pony tail very gently as she walked past, grabbed the end of the sari potaflippantly out of mischief and quickly released before she sensed it.
Once she realised the type of monkey pranks boys were up to, she once demanded to know how many were seriously interested in studying chemistry for GCE examination. To her amazement 16 hands went up; finally, as a kind of vengeance, she did not permit the 16 students to offer chemistry for the GCE examination.
We needed to offer eight subjects in a single examination. Pemasiri proposed me to try Christianity (Non RC) to replace Chemistry and gave me a booklet containing 30 pages of St. Mathew’s gospel. I memorised the pages, literally word to word, and ended up with a credit pass in Christianity (being a Buddhist), whereas some of the Christian boys only got ordinary passes! Returning home after a good spell in London, I have been able to speak to him only once . He had become a pastor and now retired.
There were one or two nasty elements as school masters during our time. One such was a (Ceylon) Tamil teacher who could not control his temper if any student did not pay attention to him. In a rage he always hit students with the blackboard duster which had a wooden base, not realising how dangerous it could be.
One particular nasty incident was whenKalu Jine’, either not being able to answer a question or was not paying attention to him, received a thundering slap across his ear. The student just collapsed on to the chair holding his ear lobe. The grim incident took a turn for the worse when the boy’s father approached the Principal the following morning to report his son’s damaged ear drum! The master was reprimanded immediately by the Principal, which put a stop to any excessive disciplinary actions by him ever after.
Today the scene has changed where ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ has become a reality. Unlike in our time everything has changed from the dress codes to hair styles of teachers and in most cases lecturers seem to have become ‘jelly babies’ in front of students, sending warning bells to overhaul the whole education system in Sri Lanka.