Thursday, December 13, 2012



        Muchilot School is the University of Gramam. Childhood memories - running through rains, collecting water lilies from ponds, the pain of cane, the unending game of hide and seek and the innumerable follies- rush to my mind when I think of my first School. The school was on the eastern side of Muchilot kavu (in which kaliattams are held once in twenty years-  and hence the name .There was a mailanchi garden fresh with morning dew in the front yard of the School which  was used for erasing the slate.   Chindan master, the H M of the School was very considerate to the children. Always dressed in neat Khadi, and with a large kumkum bindi on his forehead  ,he will take the cane only towards mischievous rascals. He will recite verses from old texts loudly.  Anandan master was a real terror who will use his cane mercilessly. Hari mash also taught Maths with cane ( My brother stopped his studies because of this Cane treatment. One day my brother, who was unable to recite a multiplication table, was asked  to stand upon the bench and the teacher beat him mercilessly. Unable to bear the thrashing my brother got hold of the cane. The entire class became soundless with amazement as the stick is now in my brothers hand. The incident resulted in his ouster from the School). 

       Karthiayani teacher, Narayani teacher and  Nambiar mash(who was a paying Guest in my friends house) were very good teachers whereas  krishann master was very popular among students as he sold picture stamps to students. Balakrishnan Master taught English very well. Sukumaran Master taught Social Studies. Some teachers  used to send students on errant to Chindattan’s tea shop for buying cigarettes and tea.  The students so deputed enjoyed their freedom by taking a puff of the cigarette and a sip of the tea on their way back to the school. Satyabhama teacher also taught very well.
         We loved Fridays most. On those days the school will disperse for lunch at 12.30 and will start again only at 2.30pm. Those two hours are play time for us. The school and surroundings will change into a large play ground.  All country games like kattiyum kolum, mododu kali, hide and seek, kallahai, etteru, chatti, will be played. The neighborhood dread these noon players as occasional encroachment to their compounds will result in throwing at a mango tree, plucking of some ripe fruits etc. 
          Poverty was all around. Several students stopped studies much earlier to help their parents. All the students had to perform many errands before coming to school (I had to walk about four kms to the milk society and back every morning to deliver milk). As the students were sent to school directly without nursery training, the teachers have a tough time. Besides their regular chores they have to perform an additional duty. The students who came without brushing their teeth are led near the well with some umikkari and irkil. Those present without taking their bath are taught a lesson by pouring a pot of water over their heads. The difficult duty was to clean the benches when some students answered their call of nature on the benches. This was so common those days because their bowels were not trained for the school. Some even got nick names on account of this behavior. 
          My first day at School was eventful. There were two divisions in standard one. Narayani teacher was the class teacher in one and Ananthan master in the other.  Before coming to school my mother prayed aloud that I be admitted to the motherly Narayani teacher’s class. As can be expected, I was admitted to Anandan master’s division. I cried aloud in fear of the terrible class teacher. I was pacified by none other than Anandan Master himself but in vain. My brother who was studying in second standard was my guardian and I had to accompany him to the School. On the first day evening, his class teacher detained the class for a few minutes  for completing a problem . When the last bell rang ( Alas! that was the happiest moment for every student) I came out of the class. My brother was not to be seen and I presumed that he might have gone without me. I started to cry aloud. Balakrishan , a fourth standard student took pity on me and asked where I was staying. I was relieved and told him that I was staying near mambalam ara in which a theyyam festival was going on at that time. He agreed to take me to mambalam where he had planned to visit in the evening. Though reluctantly, I went with him to his home. He took me to his house in pulluvarkunnu which is some 2kms away ( my house was just half a km away) and spent some time there. By evening we set towards mambalam.

          When my brother’s class was finally disbursed, he came out he thought I might have gone with somebody else. When he reached home without me my mother became hysteric ( as always) and there was a great commotion. I was declared missing. A team of elders started ‘mission impossible’ in search of me. They even took long bamboo poles with them. (There were three ponds on the way –kaliyanthil pond, muchilot pond and the dreaded poonthuruthi pond- full of water lilies. Anyone-what to speak of an innocent child- will be tempted to step down for the multicolored (blood red, violet and pure white) lilies. The poles are for searching in the ponds on the way as there is a chance of the child drowning). The search team inspected every inch of the path between my house and the school in vain. By this time the news spread. Someone spotted me in mambalam. What I remember was a deafening slap with unprintable words of wrath from one of my relatives. Thus ended the first eventful day at my school.

          I have studied in several institutions. But the vivid memories of muchilot school is rooted deep in me and it  will never surpass the memory of any other institution

Saturday, December 1, 2012


                       Every youth of our times should have passed through a golden period in their life in parallel Colleges. Cambridge, Nalanda, Milton etc were the cute names given     ( No international registrations were required!)  In fact they were the training ground of the youth of the times. For teaching in a parallel College, no teaching experience is necessary. No one will verify your credentials. No recommendations are necessary. The only asset required is the ability to stand before a huge assembly of glittering eyes. Yet the experiment proved to be very perfect. Many raw graduates taught excellently well as if they were teachers for years.  The only problem was that , as no certificate was required, a BA failed rogue could teach for MA. The acid test for existence was your ability to teach. Hence there was tight competition and surveillance of the Principal behind the curtain. If some of the students complain about the classes, the next day, before proceeding to the class with a chalk, the Principal will call the teacher back and dismiss him on the spot. There was no Union. He will have no other option but to go to his last less attractive job. If On the other hand, one excels in his classes offers will come for him from other big institutions with a high pay packet. The Principal will always skeptically watch a good teacher with the ability to canvas the students for he will try to become a pied piper and will desert the Institution with the students. 
             I was initiated to this ritual by the late Jeevarajan who was at that time teaching in Nalanda, Pazhayangadi. I was a novice and the students were very experienced to handle a novice. They tried to intimidate me with no avail. I had to teach Physics and Chemistry for High School students. This I did with much ease. There were also three batches of failed students appearing for SSLC supplementary exams. There also I survived with some difficulty. Soon I was asked to teach PDC students which I did exceptionally well. I thought I was being accepted by the teachers as well as students.
            The greatest difficulty was getting salary. The monthly salary fixed was Rs. 200/- which was not bad for a beginner like me. I had to travel to Pazhayangadi from Payyanur and also to meet other expenses for food and cigarettes ( I was a chain smoker at that time). I soon understood that getting salary from the Principal is a bit difficult and what one can do is to sit at the Office in the morning and collect fee directly from students so that the same can be adjusted towards salary. The Principal of the College was Thampi master, a famous English teacher who will occasionally invite us to lunch with him. The expenses for that will be met by him.
            We used to stroll through Madyi hill in the evenings. The memory of those evenings will remain in my memory for ever. Madayi is a historical place and you could smell the antiquity of the place. The place witnessed several wars. The new temple at vadukunnu was still in ruins. At the top point the scenery is just fantastic. Arabian Sea could be seen glittering in the evening sunlight in the western side and pazhayangadi river on the eastern side. As I used to commute the evening passenger train, we used to sit at the top from where one could see the approaching train. There is a short cut to the station from the top.

            There was teacher of Chemistry who is a great fan of cine actor Jayan who used to take classes in jayan’s fashion. “What did you say ? Coolies- We may be ………………………….”     
When a vacancy arose in National College, Taliparamaba which was a well paid institution at that time I moved there. I was very impressed by the College under Purushothaman Master.  A very attractive salary of Rs. 5/- per class was offered. I used to reach there at 9am and worked until 9 pm (there was a night class for the  over aged ) I used to return only by the last bus. I remember those nights on which I walked from the town to gramam through the lonely road completely exhausted.
It was then that we ten friends of Gramam decided to start our own parallel College. Collecting Rs. 100/- from each (it was very tough at that time) we raised a huge  capital of Rs. 1000 and started Cherussery College with the help of Scanda Dasa Samajam at Mundoommal School . We worked free initially for meeting the administrative expenditure. Gifted teachers like U K Surendran, Sasi KU, KU Mohanan, Rajeevan M, Rajan CM Balan ., CH Mohanan and CH surendran Nambiar took classes. Soon the College flourished. That was indeed a golden period of my life. My intellectual horizon was widened because of the company of these friends. K U Mohanan and I used to walk though the moonlight night to Surendran Masters house at kandangali and we used to sit together and discuss all matters under son. There was a huge Library in the house filled with classics. Surendran Master and Mohanan gave me the first lessons in aesthetics. It was under their insistence that I read all Shakespearean tragedies, Kazantzakis, Tolstoy, Garcia Marquez and several others during a vacation for the simple pleasure of reading.  We used to play tennis in the evenings. We also convened several symposiums at the College
C H Mohanan was very good at that. We also formed a team and contested in many competitions. We used to sit above the wall of the Well of the College in the evenings till late night.
Parallel college has its own merits. K U Mohanan and M Rajeevan selected their life partners from their students. Today all of my friends including them at the College have scaled great heights. The experience gained at the College helped them shape their future life