- Picture credit: Google Photos -
Although there were several ‘hard nuts’ with ‘light fingers’ at Prince of Wales College, there was always an unwritten law that no one should steal from classmates. Whenever there was any such misdeed, our drawing master became the self-appointed ‘criminal investigator’ with his remarkable psychological tactics. Apart from his yarns, he was very popular for his self-styled investigations and earned another nickname as the ‘PWC C.I.D’.
As opposed to his hunting revelations, he managed to condition the minds of students to make them believe that he practised voodoo (mantra) too! – Needless to say, the boys were alarmed to a certain extent.
With a puny frame and 4ft 9 tall, in Western attire, shirt collar and black tie and a pair of dark glasses, he quite fitted to be the role of a ‘C.I.D’ investigator! Had he worn a British style Puggaree hat and the bowed pipe, he could easily have been a replica of Sherlock Holmes!
Spirits, ghosts or jinn (smoky type) are believed to be the souls or spirits of the deceased who appear in barely visible wispy shapes to give realistic lifelike visions or other manifestations to the living. His stories about dabbling in the supernatural world made desperate students to approach and seek his assistance whenever there was a need.
Becoming exceedingly popular in his analytical activities the college magazine – The Cambrian – too carried his caricature once, under the caption – ‘C.I.D PWC’, with an outsized head, dark glasses and a teensy figure in trouser suit.
The beauty of it all was that everyone accepted his ‘black magic’ when he always came up with positive results at the end. His normal psychology during an investigation was to lecture the whole class with graphic details on supernatural beings and their activities. He then clenched his fist and whispered into it, as if to fire up a mantra, while closely watching every face with an eagle eye through his dark glasses to detect any change of countenance on a face.
Naturally, in such circumstances the guilty students cracked-up mentally and got exposed. He subsequently approached the targeted student and had a polite conversation privately ensuring not to embarrass the offender. It is immaterial what transpired during the dialogue, but at the end of the day, lost items were always found without much damage to anyone’s reputation or embarrassment, which could be put down to his ‘undercover’ skills.
Once there was a novel experience when a boy who complained about his bicycle bell-cup went missing within the college premises. The student complained to the ‘CID at PWC’. That time, it was a different technique altogether. He requested all the students in the classroom to write their names down on a piece of paper and after collecting those personally, he rolled up the name tags and placed them in a container.
While going through a gamut of imitated mantra chanting, his vigilant eye started rolling from one corner to the other, through his dark glasses, creating a scene of a melodrama. Suddenly the school bell rang for morning tea break. Students ran up to ‘Top Charlie’s tuck shop’ to buy a patty and a large mug of tea, which cost only ten cents. In the meanwhile, he walked up to garden in the college premises and plucked an Endera leaf from a plant. When a leaf is removed from an Endera plant, some kind of a sticky latex pours out of the stem. Using that latex, he wrote the name of the nervous looking boy’s name on his left palm with help of the stem of the leaf. When the latex dried, the stains remained on his palm embossed but opaquely.
Once the teaching resumed after the interval, he set fire to the rolled up name tags and rubbed all the burnt residue of ash on his palms until the latex writing appeared with the name of the suspected boy, which he had written on his palm during the short interval became prominent. Without exposing the name to the class, he pronounced that he had found out the name of the culprit, out of the burnt ashes through voodoo, who had removed the bell cup from the bicycle, which had appeared on his palm, and he expected the boy who stole the bell cup to replace it where it was. Lord and behold ! Finally, the bell-cup miraculously appeared on the bicycle handle thus solidifying his ‘Sherlock Holmes’ tactics further and without causing any embarrassment to anyone.