During a casual pow-wow with a friend, over a glass of wine, we discussed the fate of modern children, the denial of their childhood and turning them into robots by anxious parents who realise very little about the psychological damage they inflict on their offspring.
How poignant it is to see schoolchildren clad in immaculate white uniforms come on to the roads as early as 7 am these days. Parents of most of these children place implicit faith on school vans and busses when it comes to transport of these kids, but many drivers seem to behave like maniacs sitting behind a steering wheel without paying any attention to the responsibility they shoulder when young lives are in their hands.
My friend attended St. Sebastian’s College (our rivals in Cricket), whereas I went to Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa (until I went abroad after my GCE OL).
Although our two colleges were rivals when it came to cricket, our friendship has lasted up to this day. During our recent reminiscence on college-day experiences, we compared notes with that of the present day kids who have no leisure time at all, except going to school in the morning and returning home, doing a quick turn-around, run for tuition classes and arrive home late completely exhausted mentally and physically.
My friend burst into hilarity with some of the anecdotes I dug out from my Cambrian memories (PWC was known as Cambrians) and suggested that I should incorporate those in my latest blog so that it would appeal to many readers as much as old Cambrians who are spread across the world today, as light reading. Following are some of the personal experiences as old boys of Prince of Wales we experienced and enjoyed. I would like to emphasise that none of these stories bear any offence to our erudite teachers who have made us men of the world today.
“Pacha Matia” – Nickname)
One of the most interesting personalities at PWC was our art teacher – nick named ‘Pacha Maatia’ (Bless his soul).
Approx. four ft 9 inches tall, wearing dark glasses, clad in a full white suit and tie, riding a 22″ bike was itself an eye catcher as he had to push one pedal of the bicycle, and wait for the other one to come up, as he was too short. Known as the C.I.D at PWC, he was a character by himself and was notorious for yarns.
Students who wanted to evade his drawing periods used to induce him to narrate an ‘experience from his hunting episodes‘ about which he always bragged. Although his shaggy dog stories were beyond any fairy-tale, we only had one aim in listening to them enthusiastically – just to skip the drawing class!
Beginning every story with the phrase, “Putha”, he admitted he was notorious for being late for anything.
Once he had been asked by his friends to be ready sharp at 6 pm, if he wanted a lift to a party. “Jim, (pseudo name) make sure you are ready on time, and if you are late, good luck to you’ buddy” , the friend had warned him.
He said, “Putha, time was already 5.59 pm and the guys had arrived and started ringing my door bell constantly . I was ready and waiting, except I had to comb my hair to put final touches as it were. Three of the guys forced into my room as I opened the front door and followed me to my bedroom as I rushed to make that my hair was not dishevelled . In the rush I took the hair brush and started combing in a rush, but in my second thoughts I decided to have a glance at the mirror”, “Lord and behold! Would you believe, Putha, I had been combing my friend’s hair who was standing next to me“. There was a roar of laughter from the class.
Our Latin master always adorned a Gabardine suit and tie, and entered the class room quite smelling of arrack, which he had consumed the previous night. A cheeky student, who happened to be a grandchild of the Founder of PWC, who sat in the front row, covered his nose with a handkerchief and yelled “Appa……! Ganda“! (Oh gosh the stench). That tickled some students who could not control laughter.
Infuriated teacher approached a laughing boy and demanded to know why he was sniggering at. In a jiffy his right fist went into piston action on the student’s upper arm while the rest of the class, in a chorus echoed ‘Ara…!.Ara….!! Ara…!!!”. Hopping mad teacher went from one giggling student to another continuing his piston action, more and more piston action started to work on other boys shoulders worse and worse the echoing of ‘ Ara… Ara… Ara….. ‘ continued like a mantra in a rhythmic fashion. Poor Latin teacher was thereafter nicknamed from that day onwards as ‘Mr. Ara Dasa“.
‘Mr. Ara Dasa’ had a compassionate heart though he flew off the handle occasionally especially when students could not remember how to conjugate Latin verbs. Once prior to a promotion test one boy was made a scapegoat by the rest of the class to approach the Latin master pretending to be in a sombre mood.
Quite startled by the boy’s sniffing, the teacher enquired:
“Why son, what is upsetting you Putha”?
Wiping off crocodile tears the student replied:
“Sir, I am going to fail in my Latin in the final exam, and my father will not spare me if I did; if that happens Sir, I will run away from home and I cant face my parents”!
Quite alarmed and overcome by emotion, the master whispered in boy’s ear:
“OK son, calm down, there’s no need to take such hasty decisions, I will help you out, but one thing you ought to keep this under your hat,” and handed over a copy of the set question paper to the student.
Within minutes the whole class knew what to expect at the examination – needless to say everyone got a distinction pass in Latin.
Unlike degrading ragging what has become an indecorous issue in Sri Lankan Universities at present, it was all a case of innocent and clean fun during our time that have emerged as bubbling spirit of a few adolescents.
Our particular unit of students was shifted to 16 different classrooms during one semester and twice being fined Rs.10 each for the ‘loss’ of laboratory property’ which has entered the PWC record books as the only major ‘ crime’ the boys in our class ever did, for fun !
Interesting and rib tickling episodes !