That night I could not sleep well. Two things were agitating my mind. The first one was that I was unable to unburden my parents of my expenses; the second was that I could not get any reward for securing the fourth rank in the PUC examination. I went on thinking about the next move I had to make. Suddenly an idea flashed to me.
As already mentioned by me Chandramouli Rao of Hulgar was the man behind the establishment of college in Sringeri. He was very proud that the college had come up very well within a year of its establishment. He was also very well aware that my securing of rank had made the college very popular in the entire Malnad and the surrounding places. The Principal and Shankar Rao had repeatedly told me that Rao was very happy with my performance. Since I had been let down very badly by the Principal, I thought that I should meet Rao once and brief him about my predicament.
Next evening I straightaway went knocking at the doors of Rao. He used to live in his palatial ancestral house in the Hulgar village close to Sringeri town. He also had another house at Sringeri close to the Mutt. Part of his family stayed here for the purpose of education of their children. Rao used to spend major part of his day time at this house. I was allowed in to his office room. He had a gigantic personality and commanded respect. He received me with great warmth. He praised my performance and congratulated me for the laurels I had brought to his beloved college.
He could make out that I had come to him with certain grievance. He asked me to tell him what exactly my problem was. I explained to him that the Academy had let me down very badly. He asked me the reasons for my going to the Academy in the first place. I told him that my whole problem was the payment of hostel fee. He simply asked me to straight away walk in to the hostel. I was also told to inform the hostel warden that my payment of fee would be taken care of by Rao himself!
Without losing any further time I went and met the hostel warden. I have already mentioned earlier that many new lecturers had joined the college in the second year. The first and foremost among them was N B N (Narasimha) Murthy. He was affectionately called NBN by his students. He was an M A in English literature. He had already served the Academy at
in Karkala. He
was posted to Sringeri as Reader and Head of the department of English. Additionally,
as per his seniority, he assumed the role of Vice Principal also. NBN was such
a lovable great English teacher that within a few days of his arrival, he had
become the most popular teacher in the whole college. He had a very handsome
and pleasant personality. Both his classes and speeches used to be very erudite,
entertaining and interesting at the same time. Bhuvanendra
NBN was a bachelor at that time and the position of hostel warden was thrust upon him by the Principal. I had already reached a high comfort level with him. Later I became very close to him. If I have to mention one teacher as my mentor it was NBN and NBN only. The second one was Krishnappaiah, though he limited his role to his subject and in guiding my education career only. NBN had a major role in guiding my personal life also. Right then I was pleased to meet him and tell him what Rao had told me. Of course I had to tell him the circumstances under which I had to knock at the doors of Rao. He could understand my predicament very well. As it was already late in the night, he asked me to join the hostel next day evening. He also assured me that he would collect the fee directly from Rao and I need not worry about the same. That was a major relief for me!
While my struggle so far after securing the coveted rank appeared to be definitely painful, I should also mention the positive side of the results of my achievement. For the students who had joined the college that year, I had become a hero. Many students were curious to talk to me. Some of them were particular to know the strategy adopted by me in securing the rank! I was indeed very proud to answer their queries and enjoyed every bit of admiration shown by them for me. Many of these outstation students had joined the college hostel. The news that I was joining the hostel was received by them with great joy.
The next evening I went to the hostel with my bag and baggage. One of the students just snatched away my bag and told me that I was going to be his roommate! Another boy disputed his statement and told me that the warden had told him that I would be his roommate! I was at my wit’s end! But heart of heart, I was enjoying this fight for my company!
The arrival of the warden (NBN) at this juncture put an end to the arguments. NBN told me to occupy the room of the second boy. He immediately snatched my bag from the first student and holding my hand took me to his room without any further delay. It appeared that my occupation of a room had its own premium!
The name of this boy was Nanjundaswami. He was from a place called Lingadahalli in Tarikere taluk of Chickmagalore district. I could see his satisfaction in having won the battle for getting me as his roommate! He told me that he had a mission to fulfill! He had this great ambition to secure cent per cent marks in mathematics. He was aware that I had achieved it. He just wanted to know the strategy adopted by me to achieve this distinction! He told me that by getting me as his roommate he had put his first foot forward in that direction! The rest was simply in my hands! It was for me to ensure that my roommate could also achieve the same milestone!
I assured Nanjundaswami that I would definitely unfold to him the strategy adopted by me. By that time other students were also eagerly waiting to meet me and introduce themselves to me. All the students were in high spirits. I really found the atmosphere in the hostel very conducive for studies. I was in great company. I found the food in the hostel excellent. The Mallika-Mandir management had indeed kept their brand name high in preparing tasty and quality food. I thought the things had fallen in place at last for me. For the first time I had time to think about B.Sc classes! My struggle for survival appeared to have come to an end. A happy end at that!
------ (To be continued)