Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Story of a Malnad Boy - 59

I had made it a regular practice to visit my sisters’ place (Hokkalike)  during my summer holidays. As both of my sisters were staying in the same village, I could cover their place in a single trip. I also had many friends there as I had earlier stayed there for three years as a student. My sisters always wanted me to stay there for a minimum of two weeks. I used to do that comfortably. This summer also I was there at the end of the month of May. My results were expected any time.

In those days the SSLC and University examination results used to appear in the daily newspapers. The registration numbers would be announced under 1st class, 2nd class or 3rd class. If the number was missing in all these, it meant that the student had failed. The names and registration numbers of those students who had secured the first ten ranks in the university would also be published (mostly on the front page). Later, photographs of these rankholders would also appear in the papers depending on when the correspondents could secure them from the parents. My lecturers and well wishers (the first and foremost being my eldest brother) were always telling me that I could find my name on this coveted list one day. But to be frank and honest, I never felt seriously that I could have that distinction. I always had a feeling that it was the privilege of the city students. I had been going through the daily news papers since the last week of May. The daily newspapers used to reach the villages only in the evening in those days.

I distinctly remember that day in my life. It was the Wednesday, the first of June 1966. I left my sister’s place in the afternoon on the way to my home. I had to walk a distance of two miles to reach the bus stop at a place called Gadikal. On reaching there at 3 PM, I went to the shop of Gunda Nayak, who was also the agent for newspapers. I could lay my hands on that day’s paper immediately. I could see on the front page that our results were out. I searched my registration number first under 1st class. I could find it there. Then I glanced at the rank list and just went through. I had to read only the first three names. My eyes were stuck at the fourth name. It was no dream! I was seeing my own name there! Everything was correct, my registration number and the name of my college!

It is very difficult for me to write down the feelings of elation I felt at that time. I would only say that it was the most defining moment in my life! I have experienced many more joyous moments in my life later. But none of them could beat this particular moment of my life. The first thing that came to my mind at that time was that I should share that moment with my eldest brother. Unfortunately there was no telephone facility in those days. As my brother was in Shimoga at that time he must have seen the results in the morning itself. But there was no way he could contact me. To put it simply, right at that time, I had nobody with whom I could share my joy of achievement!

Another thing that came to my mind was that I should somehow manage to get a copy of the newspaper. But the agent flatly refused to oblige me. He simply had no extra copy. I tried to explain to him that my name was there in the rank list and I should produce it as a proof to my family! He could understand my predicament, but he regretted that he could not help. By that time my bus to Koppa arrived and I was in the Koppa town within half an hour. There I met one of my classmates by name Srikrishna. He was fully excited and congratulated me repeatedly. He knew its importance to me and my college.

I told Srikrishna my predicament in being not able to get one copy of the day’s newspaper. He took me to several shops in the town. Everywhere we could find only one copy of the paper. None of the people were prepared to part with their copy of the paper. In those days only one family in our village was receiving a copy of the daily newspaper. Some times they used to miss it in transit. As such there was no guarantee that I could obtain a copy later. I was not aware whether my parents had already come to know my results. It was very important for me to get one copy.

Srikrishna told me to wait in the busstand and went out. After sometime he came back with a copy of Prajavani and handed it over to me. He told me that he had virtually stolen it from one shop. He took it for reading and simply left from there! This stolen copy remains with me till today. Jai Srikrishna!

I could reach my house only in the late evening of that day. There was a festival atmosphere in my house. My elder brother (AVL) had brought the copy of the only newspaper for our village from the post office. He could get it in the afternoon. He was very much excited to see my name in the rank list. He virtually ran all the way to reach home and tell my parents. His efforts to share his joy with the villagers he met on the way failed miserably! Nobody could understand the meaning of a rank! In fact one of the persons he met was my neighbor Chandru. He was told by my brother that I had secured fourth rank in PUC. The way my brother told him my results made Chandru think that something had gone terribly wrong with me! He went and told his parents that there was some problem with me! He also told them that he could not make out whether I had passed or failed in my examination! As far as Chandru was concerned, there could be only two results, passed or failed. That I had secured a rank threw no light on him! He took it as a very ambiguous result!

I was very happy and surprised to see my first teacher at my house. He was gladly sharing his joy with my parents. It was Srikanta Jois whom I had referred to as my first teacher earlier. He was very proud of me. My father told him that a part of the credit should go to him. After all, he was the one who had laid the foundation of my education. There was a function in my neighboring house on that day. The function went up till late night. I went there for my dinner. The people who gathered there were already aware of my achievement. Srikanta Jois had enlightened them the meaning and significance of securing a rank. I was basking in the glory totally. I really felt it was my day (night) truly!

I was very much eager to meet my lecturers and share with them my happiness. However I was aware that they were still on their summer holidays. They were expected to report back to their duty only by the end of June. Hence I did not visit Sringeri for another week. As expected, my results had been received by the college fraternity and the town people with great excitement and happiness. The Principal and Chandramouli Rao were simply thrilled and proud of my achievement. The correspondent of Indian Express and Kannada Prabha wanted a photograph of mine from them to be published in those papers. But let alone the photograph; they were not able to locate my whereabouts. The address available with the college was insufficient. In any case nobody could have walked all the way for eight miles to reach my distant village. There was no other way of communication.

The citizens of Sringeri formed an association called ‘Mitravrinda of Sringeri’ and presented an alarm clock to me. In my absentia the same was received by the Principal. Ultimately they managed to send a message to me through Shankar Rao, who was responsible for my admission to the college. When I met him at his house he was very proud of my achievement and repeatedly congratulated me. He told me that people were congratulating him even though the full credit should go to me only. He also asked me to visit Sringeri and meet the Principal without any further delay.

By that time I had received a letter from my eldest brother from Shimoga. He was simply ecstatic. He had written that I had made all his dreams come true!

The next day I left for Sringeri. As I was passing through the town, I was being repeatedly congratulated by the important personalities of the town. I could also see the people pointing out me from their homes telling others that I was the person who got that coveted rank. It was indeed a very memorable day in my life. Ultimately I was at the house of the Principal. He received me with great pleasure. He simply asked me where I was hiding all these days. He also handed over to me the alarm clock, the memento presented by the people of Sringeri. I was also told that the Academy of Manipal was thinking of rewarding me in some big way.

There were some telegrams and letters waiting for me from my beloved lecturers. The one from Pradhan Gurudatta stated that ‘I had permanently etched my name in the history of the institution by securing the fourth rank in its very first year of existence.’ Another letter from my erstwhile beloved chemistry lecturer Raghunathan stated that ‘I had kept up his expectations and fully deserved the recognition.’

While I could bask in the glory and enjoy it fully, the important question was cropping up in my minds. What next?

------- (To be continued)

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