Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Story of a Malnad Boy-78

I saw two of the most memorable English films while I was at the Institute. My brother took me to a theatre called Vijayalakshmi Talkies somewhere in Chickpet area. This was a very old theatre in Bangalore and was exhibiting only English films in those days. The first film was The Sound of Music and the second was Von Ryan’s Express from 20th Century Fox. Both the films left a very lasting impression on me. 

The last scene in Von Ryan’s Express, where Frank Sinatra (Ryan) is egged on by his colleagues to catch the train by running faster, misses narrowly and is gunned down by the German commander was haunting me for quite a long time.

An important event took place in Bangalore while I was at IISC. The historic Session of Indian National Congress at the Glass House in Lalbhag threw out the old guard Congress leadership under the President Nijalingappa. The old guard, known as Syndicate at that time, had chosen Neelam Sanjiva Reddy as the official candidate for the post of President of India. The broken away group headed by Smt. Indira Gandhi chose Fakruddin Ali Ahmed as its candidate. The students at the Institute took very active interest in this political development. Ultimately the Indira Gandhi group gained upper hand and Fakruddin Ali won the Presidential race. The rest is history.

One day I got intimation that there was a registered post for me and I had to collect it from the IISC post Office. I went and collected the same. It was a letter from N R Bhat (my ex-Maths lecturer) accompanied by a bank draft for Rs100/=.Initially I was pleased to see the Bank draft. But my joy was short-lived. The letter stated that Bhat was not aware of my urgent needs and hence had not responded to my first letter. He had also stated that I could repay the amount after my employment. In other words, he meant that I should not trouble him anymore and should get back to him only after securing employment. My presumption that he may extend some minimum monthly contribution for my maintenance was totally wrong. I felt like returning the draft to him by return of post. But in the given situation that was not an advisable action. In any case my first identified source of funding had dried out.

More was in store for me. An inland letter from the Academy of Education Manipal not only dried up another identified source, it spoiled my sleep for many days. The letter stated that the Academy could not consider my request for bearing the Institute fee as I was not studying in an Academy College or Institution. But the letter did not end there. It had a shocker for me. The Academy wanted me to repay the amount so far disbursed by them with up-to-date interest!

Readers should be remembering the episode in which I had a showdown with the Principal refusing to sign the promissory note in favour of the Academy. The Principal had clearly told me that it was only for record purpose and there was no question of my repaying the amount to the Academy. But here was a letter from the same Academy asking not only to pay back the money but also with up-to-date interest. The Principal who had told me otherwise was now teaching Hindu Philosophy to the postgraduate students at Manasa Gangothri, Mysore, blissfully unaware of the situation I had landed at that juncture! I wrote a reply to the Academy about the assurance given by the Principal. I also asked them how they could expect a student to repay the amount in the midst of his academic career.

Meanwhile one more month had passed resulting in further deterioration in my bank balance. I could understand now that the things were reaching a critical stage for me. I thought it prudent to meet Mr. Bhat (Physics Professor) to discuss my problems. He was very sympathetic to me. He asked me whether I could think of doing some part-time job to have some earnings. I was very much prepared. He sent me to a Tutorial College in Malleshwaram to meet the Principal who was known to him. I met the Principal who was prepared to take me. But there was a hitch. The subjects I had to teach were those which I had never studied so far! Needless to say that I returned fully disappointed.

Now it was time for me to take a final call. That weekend my brother came to meet me as usual. There was no positive development in his search for employment also. He was finding it difficult to meet his expenditure for maintenance. As for me, my bank balance was just sufficient to meet one more month’s hostel billing. We had a thorough discussion. We arrived at the only conclusion possible in the given circumstances. That was to wind up our Bangalore venture and move back to our village before we reached a stage where we could not meet our return bus fare.

Today when I am writing down this memoir of mine, the most painful moments of my educational career are flooding back to my mind. It was a very tragic end for my most eventful educational career. Indeed as I was preparing silently to leave the Institute without keeping any of my classmates informed, I was getting a feeling that I was committing suicide (of my career). To put it in a different way, I was performing the last rites of my own student career. It was at least true as far as my most ambitious career at the Institute was concerned. As against my mentor Krishnappaiah’s expectation of my landing at the US after successfully completing the degree in Metallurgy, I was going back to my village aborting my studies after a period of hardly four months.

There was no necessity for me to settle my hostel bill as I had paid advance deposit for one month. I returned the library books and managed to collect my original certificates from the Institute on some vague pretext. I was trying to pack up without attracting the attention of my roommate. But he was developing suspicion about my strange behavior. I was aware that if I leak out my decision to him, the news would immediately reach my classmates who would try to stop me.

I informed my roommate only in the late night on my last day at the Institute. I told him that I was leaving in the early morning bidding farewell to the Institute once and for all. It was a big shock for him. Being an extremely nice person and deeply religious he found it difficult to digest my decision. He was simply miserable. But any amount of trying to convince me simply did not help. It was all over for me.

The next morning saw us two brothers at the Subhashnagar bus stand stepping into the Sringeri bus. We were bidding farewell to Bangalore at least for the time being. We had come to the great city four months back with lot of hopes for both of us. But we were going back to our village with our dreams totally shattered.

Our parents were totally shocked to see their two graduate sons back at home with bag and baggage. It took some time for them to understand what we were telling. When the reality dawned on them they had no words for us. Our neighbors and other villagers were also equally shocked to see us back. It was a difficult exercise for us to convince them about our action.

Hardly within a week I received a big envelop addressed to me from the Institute. It contained a memorandum signed by every student of my Metallurgy batch starting from Veera Raghavan. They had come to know about my leaving the Institute on financial grounds through my roommate. They had regretted that I had left without informing any of them including Krishna Kumar who was so close to me. All of them wanted me to just get back by the first bus. They had promised to share my expenses between them with least difficulty. I became very emotional on reading their appeal to me. Tears started rolling down my eyes. My mother simply wept and asked me whether I could go back as requested by my dear classmates. She wanted me to rethink and reconsider my decision.

But it was too late for me. In any case I had decided against being at the mercy of somebody to meet my expenditure. My dream to complete my studies at the great Institute had come to its end. With that my very educational career had come to its end, even though I was not aware of it at that time.

1 comment:

Narain said...

My heart is really heavy!