I would like to share an impactful incident from my Junior College days.
I was very passionate about Cricket and Table Tennis and was the lone student selected from my College for a cricket team which was playing in the Super League division. Early morning Cricket coaching camps was a regularity and one day the coach advised me to practice extra time for a big match the next day against State Bank of India, which had potential Test players.
Though always very punctual to College, on this day I was late and the issue got compounded when my Principal suddenly decided to take the morning class. I was certain to get reprimanded for being late, but the presence of my Maths Lecturer along with the Principal gave some comfort. I gathered courage but as expected the Principal instructed me to stand near the door.
My Junior College which was named after the great Rabindranath Tagore, was established in 1969. The founder and Principal of this College was Mr. Koteeswaran, in his early 70s at that time, was the follower of Tagore & Dr. Radhakrishnan (ex-President of India) and always wore a jacket and a turban – a very majestic personality of a learned scholar, academician and a strict disciplinarian. I had the opportunity of studying in this Junior College and inculcated lot of good traits which were imbibed in my value system that strengthened my personality to face the unknown.
Though timid and shy, I was known among few friends due to my sports activities and my teaching skills but my Principal was unmoved since I was never in the league of top scorers – he can never be influenced. He was explaining about a student who had performed exceptionally well in the Maths pre-finals exam and with the answer sheet in his hand, was pointing at every logical step including underscoring formulas, double underlining for every answer etc. The entire class was listening very intently but I could not see the answer paper from this distance. The highlight was - this student had attempted all the 12 questions though only 8 questions were required to be answered correctly for scoring 100%.
He also commended this student’s preparation, confidence level and knowledge since he had answered all the questions correctly. The students in the class, including me from the door, started applauding and the Principal announced the name of the student which I could not hear properly. He said the very purpose of his presence on this day in the class was to appreciate this student, who is an asset for the College and every student must learn from him. While the Principal was continuing his talk, the Maths lecturer waved at me to get inside and I walked towards my seat. It appeared that I committed a blunder as the Principal became very furious for disobeying his instruction. My Maths lecturer intervened and whispered something to my Principal which made him to change his tone.
He called me to the front and wanted me to explain the reason for my delay and I obediently revealed the entire sequence of events.
With a slightly soothing tone, he said “This boy, though I do not know his name, is trying to keep the flag of this college flying high – both inside & outside. A true asset to our College. Is this your answer paper? he asked.
I looked at that paper and said – “ Yes, Sir. It’s mine”
He said, “you have set a bench mark which would be difficult for others to achieve. Though there was a choice for you to select the questions, you attempted all the questions in the same sequence correctly within the time period – I am very much impressed and proud of you”.
These remarks made me feel elated but didn’t flatter me since I was aware there were many students in my class who used to score 100% marks very consistently not only in Maths but in other subjects as well. He being a Master in English Literature, immediately quoted John Keats’s poem and said I will always shine like a star - a very big encouragement for me.
He informed the class, “hereafter, I will remember his name and I am giving him 125/100 marks, though he deserves more. This is the first time the Numerator is Greater than the Denominator in a Maths answer paper,” he remarked. Though these marks were internal but boosted my confidence tremendously and laid a strong foundation to excel thereafter.
It was a very touching moment for me since I was receiving such an applause in my class for the first time and with tears in my eyes I touched his feet with all humility. He blessed and wished me well for my future and also for the next day’s cricket match. My Principal’s good wishes will always be remembered and cherished throughout my life.
This incident left a lasting imprint on my mind which was a turning point to pursue professional courses with greater degree of interest and involvement resulting in being awarded National Merit Scholarship by Government of India at a later stage.
All my teachers have contributed immensely for my development.
On teacher’s day, my sincere tribute to all my teachers who have been part of my journey.
Sundar Rajan is Managing Director @ DFMC - King Koil & Serta