A Senior Manager at HNB Rohan Fernando (retired now) who was an old boy of my alma mater, Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, surprised me once after reading my articles in newspapers. I met him last when he was the Manager at HNB Kalutara Branch, many moons ago, during my holiday in Sri Lanka. He coaxed me to open a NRFC Account at that time, and I became the No.1 NRFC account holder in Kalutara. Subsequently, with the computers coming in to play, the No.1 account became a long and lengthy series of digits that no one could remember ! A lot of water has flowed under the bridge ever since, but Rohan managed to trace me after his retirement with the help of the email address that I carry with every article for anyone to contact me. By this way many feedbacks have helped to come up with new ideas to write about.
He made a special request in his e-mail thus: “Why not write something about our alma mater? Sadly, how many readers would miss you are an old Cambrian! Ours may not be the school by the sea, but our lagoon delights and the antics with Princess of Wales girls and the rivalry across the river with ‘ Sebas’ cannot be second to none”.
Sure, Rohan made me ’re-visit’ Prince of Wales. For that matter after many many decades some of the monkey pranks we were up to as young students can still tickle our memory. After all, an amasing college prank or two is the best way to inspire future generations of students … and the world! I guess.
If I were to state that boys in my class were the most incorrigible lot PWC ever had it wouldn’t be an exaggeration! Rohan gave me a cue to write about by reminding me of the vice Principal Ram (bless his soul), a formidable Brahmin who never smiled.
His funny ‘slanting-walk’ to a side, while shaking a bunch of keys, amused Clinton who used to derisively sing a Hindi song Ramaya Watha Waya to rhyme with his name as Ramaiah Watha Waya whenever Mr. Ram passed our class room, which made us giggle, but had to control our laughter for the fear of a thrashing. During a single semester, our particular class was transferred to seventeen different rooms. It was all due to innocent teenage fun, but at the time regarded as unacceptable and indiscipline by the Principal.
A 4 foot 9 inches tall drawing master, adoringly known as Pacha Martia, was a character by himself. It was a hilarious sight to see him riding a full-size (22” ) bicycle to college in full European attire where he had to push one pedal and wait for the other to come up. To evade drawing periods, we flattered him about his hunting trips which he always used to boast about (thinking we were a gullible lot!). The most hilarious anecdote was how he combed his friend’s hair (thinking it was his!) without looking at the mirror in a hurry to leave for a birthday party.
Our English teacher, a matured Tamil spinster, would not tolerate any nonsense. With a thick long pencil about 12 inches long, she used to hammer students on their forehead with it for the slightest slip-up, and pinch ear lobes with her pointed sharp nails. One radical in the class once cut his ear lobe with a blade and ran up to the middle school master with blood oozing out from his ear to report her. One glance at the student’s blood stained ear made the alarmed Head Master rush to the class room and warn the teacher not to repeat such ‘brutal punishments again’! The whole class room reigned dead silence while we all had to conceal our cheeky smiles with caution.
Who on earth would imagine there would be a crow inside the drawer of the class master’s desk? During lunch break we managed to catch a crow and hide it inside class teacher’s drawer. When the teacher attempted to mark the register for the afternoon session, the frightened bird flew off like a rocket nearly blinding him. Frightened class master did a bee line to the Principal’s office to report the matter and we all received well deserved six whacks from the Principal.
Our Latin master was a compassionate gentleman. Prior to the exam one boy approached him, appeared to be crying in desperation, and pleaded for help saying he was very weak in Latin and might fail the Latin paper and his father would thrash him mercilessly for his failure. Expressing in Latin, facile dictu difficile factu ( easy to say difficult to do), the master leaked the Latin question paper to the student, out of sympathy, as a special favour, which in turn went to all the students in the class and everyone scored excellent marks.
We could not possibly empathise the South Indian accent of English of your short and stubby physics master when he pronounced ‘L’. ‘O’ for Yellow and ‘Yen’ to ‘Yen’ for end to end when he talked about magnets. It was not easy at all to take down notes at speed with such impediments of speech. Somapala Silva who’s front tooth was missing could not possibly control his laughter in such instances, and the laughter had to burst out with a loud hiss, through his front tooth gap, which made several others also to gust into laughter – needless to say for the annoyance of the teacher.
When the young Indian female teacher was taunted by pulling her Sari Pota from behind and pummeling her pony tail by my best friend Pemasiri, seated next to me in the class room, got us debarred from sitting for Chemistry for GCSC exam as a result. He offered me a copy of St. Mathew’s gospel as an alternative, and advised me to offer Christianity (Non. RC) for the exam, which I did and ended up with a Credit Pass, whereas some of the Christian boys only managed to get an ordinary pass. Very recently I managed to find his telephone number and had a long chat to find that he had ended up as a Parish Priest and also retired now.
Fun and games
Those were only a few of the pranks we were up to as school children, but despite all the fun and games, discipline and indiscipline (at times) due to excessive haemoglobin
element in our circulatory system, we had a full childhood to accommodate both studies, extra-curricular activities and come out of the tunnel at the end of the day.
But it is rather pathetic to see the modern children being turned out into robots, where there is no extra time for any such fun or activity or to hear about such innocent fun, except being pushed, pushed and hard-pressed into unbearable mental states, which is going to affect them psychologically and physically, especially with excessive home work from schools, tuition classes of varying degree and the worst being making them carry heavy loads of books in their satchels, not only make them look like androids but as Hunchback of Notre Dame!
“Work while you work, play while you play, that is the only way, to be happy and gay.”
pic.credit: google pictures