Bunking is one’s privilege. A unique privilege that you get only during college life! And bunk you may! But let not bunking become a passion to such an extent that you forget where your class is, and go a step even further and ask your friend, “Macha, do you know who is our English prof this semester???”
A few students from one ‘Class A’ are infamous for bunking their classes. So it was a sudden and sweet surprise when today, for their CAs - ‘all of a sudden’, the class was brimming over with enthused and 'impulsively ignited minds' swarming to crouch in their seats to have a go at the ‘English Challenge’ today as part of their first CA with me this semester.
I was stupefied to the core at this sudden, ‘bolt-from-the-blue’ flashmob of a crowd from Class A that I forced myself to ask, pointing towards those ‘passionate bunking elite’, if they could really manage the test, as quite a lot has been done in class, and it looks like “You guys won’t be able to rise to the challenge of an Internal test, unless you made yourself available in at least fifty per cent of the teaching classes?”
In the meantime, I had permitted all the students from Class B to take their CAs because almost everyone of them used to come to class on a regular basis.
After I gave them their Questions and Class B was ten minutes into their test, something unexpected happened.
A girl from Class B stands up from her seat and comes straight to the invigilator (me) and says teary-eyed,
‘Sir, I need to talk to you. Can I?’
“Sure. Please go ahead”, I calm her.
“Sir, I couldn’t write even my name on the answer sheet, after I saw you ‘taking to task’ some students from Class A for absenting themselves from classes!”
“Yes. But what’s it to you?” I asked baffled.
“Sir, but even I didn’t attend your classes this past month, as I was, for most of the time into rigorous training as an NCC cadet!”
“Great! I’m so happy that you are an NCC cadet! And service to NCC is like service to the nation. I’m so proud of you”.
‘Thank you sir’. And sir, I represented Tamil Nadu in the NCC contingent at the RD parade in New Delhi this January and we also had the pleasant surprise of having tea with the Rashtrapati himself (President of India), she quipped.
Among nine cadets from Chennai, I was the only girl who represented the Madras group, and it was like, a great honour for me to be a part of this prestigious group, sir”
“So proud of you! I’m so happy that you have a good conscience. Just go ahead. Write what you can. I can give you a bit of a relaxation in time too," I said.
‘No sir. I’ve come prepared. I will write well sir,’ she added, and she did!!!
As the test was drawing to a close, and most of the students had gradually made their way out, a couple of her friends came up to me and said, ‘Sir, the moment you took some of those students to task, she felt very unnerved. She kept on saying, “I’m not able to write… I have a feeling of guilt and remorse that I’m cheating on my teacher. I can’t write... And she was all tears…”
Then after the test was up, I called her up, and asked her if she had any clicks from the RD parade and tea time with the President (hoping to put em up on the blog).
She said, ‘Yes, sir. The Principal’s Office has also asked for it. I shall give you a copy once I take copies of it from this CD’.
This incident made me go back to more of such sweet restorative therapeutic anecdotal variants from the past, to be precise, more than a dozen years into the past, in good ol’ MCC.
Muthu, (a Thomasian) from Pbt Class, (2004-07) is an athlete who represented his Hall as well as the College! During his first internal test, he was quite visibly perturbed. Then, after five minutes into the test, he comes straight up to me and says, ‘Sir, I didn’t prepare well for this CA. I’m so sorry at having disappointed you. Please pardon me sir. I shall do my next CA well!’
Such moral courage requires a lot of guts indeed!
There was yet another student of ours, Vidya Venkat (2003-06). She was indeed a topper in class from day one. But one fine day, after her CA, she walks straight up to me, with a melancholic face and says, ‘Sir, I didn’t do my CA well. I’m sorry! Shall do well in my next CA'
Hopeland (2007-10) was a student of Zoology. He had us transfixed even in the very second month of his first year with us, when he dazzled the part II English class with a live and poisonous snake. I almost had the shudders when the snake slithered across my bag, on the table in that huge class. Click HERE for that episode.
After I gave the students their marks for their Internals, Hopeland comes up to me and says, ‘Sir, may I have a word with you?’
‘Sir, I don’t think I deserve these marks!’
For the first time I was taken aback!
‘Oh!’ But why do you think so?’
‘Sir, I didn’t do much of a preparation for this test, and hence, the marks you have given me don’t agree with my conscience. Could you please reduce it sir??? Please???’
For once, I was sooo proud of my student!
Prince Shadrack, from BSc Chemistry (2003 – 04). Hope he reads this one! After one of my classes with them, he walks up to me and says, Sir, I found this gold chain (should be around five sovereign) on Campus, and I don’t know how to go about restoring it to its rightful owner!”
I appreciated him for his integrity, and asked him to hand it over to the Dean of Student Affairs, who will then do the needful, I said.
Ramnath Chandrasekhar (2008-11) was again a Zoology student. An avid photographer too! Even as I gave the class their Question Paper, Ramnath, had a look at the questions, and said, “Sir, I think, I can't do justice to the questions, as I haven’t attended many of your classes. I was busy doing wildlife photography out in the jungles. Please pardon me this once, Sir. Shall compensate it by doing well in my next CA,” he said.
And the list is only indicative. It goes on… Time is not highly favourable enough to me to wax eloquent on the integrity of my students. Vidya is now with The Hindu as Senior Correspondent, Ramnath is now a professional Wildlife Photographer, Muthu is a Govt School Teacher in Salem, Hopeland does what he loves doing, being a Zoologist! And I earnestly wish, pray and hope that this wonderful NCC cadet would surely make it big one day! Kudos!!!
This takes me back to the year 2007, in this very same February, when Dr. Kalam, the legend was with us here at MCC. After his brilliant speech on Scientific Magnanimity at MCC, when he spoke at length about the integrity of a few great minds like Dr. C. V. Raman, Prof. Norman E. Borlaug, etc, he said:
Friends, if we aspire to achieve great things in life, we need Scientific Magnanimity to focus on the young achievers. It is my experience that a great mind and a great heart go together. This Scientific Magnanimity will motivate the scientific community and nurture team spirit. With this background of unique traits of great minds, dear young friends, now it is time for all of you to have a great dream in life, dream transforms into thoughts and thoughts result into action. Now I would like to administer an oath on courage: (students please repeat after me, the legend says!) “COURAGE to think different, Courage to invent, Courage to discover the impossible, Courage to travel into an unexplored path, Courage to share the knowledge, Courage to remove the pain, Courage to reach the unreached, Courage to combat the problems and succeed, are the unique qualities of the youth. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my missions. My congratulations to all the graduates who are passing out from Madras Christian College. My best wishes to all the members of Madras Christian College in their mission of providing quality education and capacity building among the youth of Chennai and the adjoining districts. Thank you.”
Dear MCC-ians, you’ve proved true the words of this Great Legend. As long as you have the courage to do the right, courage to think different, courage to excel, courage to stand up for what is right, courage to act according to your conscience, and the courage to walk with integrity, a glorious future is indeed assured for our Motherland India!
Viva la MCC!
Viva la India!