An incident that shaped me

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Every teacher has his own unique way to teach his pupil!

It was a time when the Madras – MRTS which was commonly called as ‘Parakkum rail’ (which means the ‘Flying train’) had started its service.  People who had travelled in it used to share their experiences – some used to portray the view of the Marina beach from the train, few used to narrate the beautiful architecture of the railway station, and others used to say that it was worth a travel.  It used to fascinate me.  There were hardly any family outings those days, and even such outings would be for some family function, which I never used to attend and hence I was waiting for an opportunity to travel in it.

I joined Diploma in Civil engineering in the year 2000, when I was fifteen years old.  I was brought up under a very strict parenting, which most of my generation kids would have gone through.  All through schooling, I would be home within fifteen minutes after school, my playground was just a street away from my home and I had never gone alone anywhere else out of these geographies.

It was just two months into my college life, and I came to know that, one of my close friends Raghavendar, was learning Violin at Government Music college.  After our college hours, he used to take the sub-urban train, then the MRTS to reach there.  After few days of our interaction, he promised to take me till Thirumayilai (Mylapore) station for me to experience it.  So, we decided upon a day.  I don’t remember the exact date now, but it was a day before Deepavali.

The plan was such that I shall reach my home by 6 p.m.  Accordingly, the previous day I had cooked a story to my parents that, we are having a sports session in the evening and it was compulsory for everyone to attend.  Hence, I would come home only by 6 p.m.  I could not control my excitement and I was eagerly waiting for the college to get over.

Due to some reason, we missed the train at the planned time.  So, we boarded the next Madras train and reached Central station only at around 5:30 p.m.  Knowing what I had informed my parents and since it was getting late, Raghavendar suggested that, let’s defer our plan and asked me to go back home from Central.  But I was not ready to abort my expedition.

So, we continued to the Park station by walk and from there the dream of my life – ‘Parakkum rail’ and reached the Thirumayilai station.  I was amazed to see such a marvelous construction and boarded the same train for my return.

While returning I was hesitant to alight at Park station since I didn’t know the way to reach Central station from there.  Hence, I travelled all the way to Beach station and boarded the train to come back home.

By then it was around 6:30 p.m.  I thought, by 7 p.m. I should be able to reach home and was busy preparing stories in my mind to convince my parents for the one-hour delay.  Just minutes after the train started, it halted in between stations for quite a long time.  I was just 15 years old, for the first time travelling out of my routine boundaries, didn’t know what to say to my parents for coming home late.

The sky was lit by crackers, the atmosphere was filled with smoke and my eyes were overflowing with tears.  I couldn’t control crying and the emotion which I was going through was evident on my face.

I reached the Korattur railway station (may be around 8 p.m.) and my father was waiting for me in the exit.  He started his interrogation with me from there till we reached home and continued until we went to sleep.  I told my father that one of my classmates – Ashok had got seriously injured in his leg while playing and he was finding it difficult to walk.  Hence, my class advisor, Shanmugam Sir, had asked me to drop him at Perambur railway station and from there his parents who have already been informed about the incident would take care of him.

I knew that, this would have only partially convinced my dad and he would take efforts to re-assure it from an authentic source.  And, there was this first parent-teachers association meeting (PTA) which was scheduled within a week’s time.

In my mind I had decided to ask for help from Shanmugam Sir.  I met Shanmugam Sir during the lunch and narrated the entire incident as it had happened including my quick lie to my dad and the possibility of my dad verifying it with Sir during the ensuing PTA meeting.

He said, “So you want me to lie?” and paused for a moment and then continued, “Ok.  Leave it to me now and attend to your work”.

Ok.  Leave it to me now and attend to your work.

Strangely, after that PTA meeting, this topic was never discussed by my dad or by Shanmugam Sir.  Till date, I don’t know what transpired in that meeting!

My hunch is, Sir played along the lines of my invented story…  Or he could have told the truth and convinced my dad to forgive and not to broach it further leading to emotional aberrations…

But after this incident I made a promise to myself – “I will ensure that, my conduct will be so good that even if someone needs to know about me in the future, my teacher or anyone, for that matter, need not lie because of me.”

I have lived up to this promise till date and I am peaceful.  I am thankful to Shanmugam Sir.

P.S: I came to know during the final semester of my college that, my dad had taken Shanmugam Sir’s phone number during the first parent-teachers meeting, and every weekend he used to call and enquire about my conduct.  But, Shanmugam Sir had nothing to complain about me!

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