Monday, December 26, 2011
Jayantha Anandappa's Memories - Part VI
Well, Friends, I can go on writing. But I think time has come to say Good Bye and to break this manuscript. Before I do that let me pause and quickly revisit those days again, just to check that I have not overlooked or missed anything obvious.
Many more incidents, places, faces, events come flooding into my mind once again- beckoning. I can start it all over. But sadly, this script must end. You may be disappointed that I did not even touch on the natural beauty of the Campus: on those stately trees laden with flowers, the bougainvilleas that were eternally in bloom or those majestic mountains, or a typical evening in the Campus or the beauty of the Mahaveli (river) that made its long trek murmuring gently through the campus.
I am not a poet and it is best that I leave it to you to picture all that natural beauty. I may only add that, to me even a gloomy rainy day in the Campus was enchanting, if you only cared to look at the beauty of those mist-clad mountains from your room window! I also find it hard to keep aside this script without making at least a fleeting reference to a place that was so dear to me then: that table and the chair in the fourth floor of the Main Library, where I spent a fair bit of time, particularly in my first year poring over all those beautiful Russian Classics- in that familiar quiet nook, facing the river.
I could almost feel the smell of those bound books even now at times. Those books must be still there, lying intact in those same shelves? If by miracle the clock can be turned back and if I could get those four years again, revisiting the fourth floor of the library to discover the world of Tolstoy, Turgenev, Checkov, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Gogol etc in that quiet atmosphere is something that I will do most cherishingly again.
But I have succumbed to temptation again. I must ask your permission to break my promise and share with you just one more memory coming flashing into my mind.
I am jumping ahead a bit now as perhaps this is strictly not a memory from my student days, rather a memory that I carry as an instructor. But what’s the difference? It happened in 1976 perhaps in September, when we had our graduation ceremony. I was an instructor in the structures lab. After posing for the group graduation photograph in the evening opposite the Engineering Faculty entrance (perhaps the only official event of the ceremony) I went gallivanting with GH Padmasiri and few others to Kandy- posed for the individual graduation photo at Laxman’s studio- had dinner and a couple of beers in one of those clubs facing the lake, played some carom and returned to the engineering faculty late in the night to see how the other batch mates were partying in the massive lecture room opposite the fluids lab.
If memory serves me right it was the band from Penideniya made up with the Burgher boys across the railway line that were on action with the youthful Dr Ranjith Galapaththi also joining them strumming a guitar impressively- all desperately trying to back up the out of tune vocalist on stage who was none other than our beloved Prof Thurairajah with a microphone on hand “singing” Marie Osmond’s popular hit “Paper Roses” and a series of other popular English songs which were in vogue those days. This is the lighter and to me perhaps the most endearing side of Prof Thurairajah. We were simply amazed how he enjoyed this new role as if he was still in his first youth. Not the one with the greatest vocal skills or the voice, Prof Thurairajah in addition to his unwavering dedication to academic excellence of the faculty and the welfare of the students was always willing to share fun with students! What a great humble man!
-Maximus Jayantha Anandappa
To be concluded with Part VII