Monday, November 7, 2016

The Story of a Malnad Boy - 60

It was many years back that our house had an alarm clock. It was given for repairs in a shop at Koppa. The shopkeeper kept on assuring my father that the same will be handed over ‘next week’. As my father used to visit Koppa on all Sundays he kept on enquiring. But unfortunately that ‘next week’ never arrived! My father’s patience was tested to the maximum and ultimately he had to give up. We never got another clock for our use. We could not simply afford another one. That was the state of our financial affairs. We had to revert to our original practice of guessing the time on the movement of sunlight! Of course it stood the test of time!

Srinivasaiah of Puradamane had contributed his might for my education as already mentioned by me. He was very happy for my securing the rank in my PUC examination. He got a beautiful box made of teak wood for my alarm clock. The memento of Mitravrinda of Sringeri adorned the walls of our home for quite a long time. While keeping the memory of my happy moments at Sringeri, it served its genuine purpose of time keeping for us.

My elder brother (AVL) was also successful in his PUC examination. He wanted to continue his education at Bangalore in the prestigious MES College. There was no point in expecting any more help from our cousin. Naturally he required at least some support from the parents. My monthly mess charges were already a big burden on my parents. Under the circumstances, I thought that I should somehow see that my establishment charges were met by somebody else considering my distinction. I had to use the leverage of my bringing credit to the Institution (JCBM College) to ensure that this burden was borne by the College management or the Academy of Manipal. Of course that was possible only if I was to continue my studies at the College.

I received a letter from Dr Talavane Srinivas from New Delhi. The readers must be remembering this person who was responsible for my free hostel facility in Shimoga. He was very happy for my achievement. He had advised me to choose my path for future career carefully. It was indeed a tough choice for me. There was nobody to guide me in the matter in the light of my achievement. Many people advised me that I should go for MBBS. My classmate Prakash Kamath who had also scored high marks was joining the KREC at Suratkal. Both Prakash and me had secured cent per cent marks in Mathematics as expected by our mathematics lecturer. For those who are interested I am furnishing below the marks secured by me as a fourth rank holder:
Maximum Marks
Marks Secured

v  In those days, maximum marks awarded for languages used to be in the range of 60% to 70%.

It was very common for the rank holders to either join KREC or the Medical College at Mysore. Prakash’s father gave me all the details and advised me to join KREC. But nobody was able to advise me how to manage my finances.  I had one ambition. The Bangalore University had introduced B.Sc. (Hons.) in some colleges. Somehow I had developed a fascination for the honours course. But with my financial state of affairs it appeared to be only a dream.

With this state of mind, I went to meet our Principal. When I reached his college office I was surprised to find him interviewing students. It was for the purpose of admission to the college. There was a big queue. I could compare the scenario with the previous year. The college was in search of students then! The news that a student of the college had secured a University rank in the very first year had spread fast. The students from Birur, Kadur and other places (who always preferred Shimoga) were flocking to Sringeri. In fact in my very presence, the Principal refused admission to certain students. Suddenly the buyers (students) market had turned in to a sellers (college) market. I could myself witness the benefits accruing to the institution on account of my performance. The Principal was kind enough to acknowledge this fact.

I discussed the uncertainties faced by me in choosing my future career with the Principal. I also informed him that ultimately I may have to just continue in the same college as a fait accompli. He told me that in that case he would discuss with the Academy as to how they could help me in the matter. He had a very good rapport with the Academy. He was held in a very high esteem by the Registrar and founder Dr. T M A Pai. During the visit I met my brother’s (AVL) classmate Jayaprakash at his house. As mentioned by me earlier, he was studying in Hubli. He had also secured high marks and was to get in to a medical college. His father Srikantaiah (whom I have covered in my earlier episode) was also present. I was telling them about my problem in meeting the establishment expenses. Srikantaiah very casually told me that I could very well stay at his house! But I did not take it seriously at that time.

The correspondent of Kannada Prabha & Indian Express, Mr. Chandrasekhar requested me for a photograph to publish in his papers. I had never got myself
photographed individually till then. Even though I assured him that I would get one for him I could not do it. Ultimately my photograph never appeared in the newspapers. My brother later told me that he was waiting to see it in Shimoga. But he was disappointed. I also met Shankar Rao once again. He assured me that he would take care of my fee payment as he had done in the previous year.

As expected in the given situation I decided to continue my studies at the same college for my B.Sc. My idea was to go for M.Sc. in Physics later. But here I had another major problem to face. In the normal course I would have opted for physics and mathematics as my major subjects. I had no love lost for the chemistry subject. Moreover one could have scored cent per cent in the mathematics subject (400 out of 400); whereas in chemistry one could hardly score seventy percent (280 out of 400). Hence the chances of a chemistry student securing a rank in final B.Sc. were ruled out.

Owing to some strange reasons, the Academy had decided that Sringeri College would have only physics and chemistry as major subjects. I was very much disappointed to hear this. I was well aware that I had to carry the burden of expectations hereafter. Everybody would simply presume that I would secure a rank in final B.Sc. also. But it was only theoretically possible for me! Later in the course of three years at the College it almost became a routine for me to explain this disadvantage to all those who were suggesting that they expected me to secure a rank! But very few were prepared to accept! They would simply say I was very much capable and could achieve it! I felt very much helpless. Such was the burden of expectation!

When I visited the college next week, I found the Principal waiting for me anxiously. He congratulated me and made a great announcement. The Academy of Manipal had decided to bear all my education expenses hereafter. Of course the same came with a rider. I was to join the faculty of the academy in any of their colleges after completing my education. In those days of severe unemployment problems, this rider rather appeared to be a boon!

This announcement was received by me with great happiness. What appealed to me more was that I was completely unburdening my parents! It was a state of euphoria for me! I thought that the Academy had fully rewarded me for my achievements. But I still had some reservations and requested the Principal to clarify the following:
  1. The Academy colleges did not have any postgraduate courses. Whether the facility would be available for my postgraduation at the Mysore University?
  2. Confirmation that the facility included my hostel expenses.

Within a few days I was told by the Principal that the facility included all my expenses. As per him I was to only take care of my clothing! He also clarified that the facility would continue for my entire student career; whether at the Academy institutions or elsewhere.

My family members were overjoyed to hear this great news from me. My well wishers including Shankar Rao told me that I could not have bargained for any better facility. The offer to meet the entire educational expenditure coupled with an employment guarantee was indeed great! I was in the seventh heaven! The Academy appeared to have rewarded me in full; at least that was what I thought under the circumstances.

------ (To be continued)

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