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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teaching at S.B.College: Lecturer


As per the direction of Msgr.L.J.Chittoor who was the administrator of the Diocese, I was appointed a lecturer in the Dept.of English. Rev.Dr.Antony Kurialacherry took charge as the Principal of the college in 1970.He is the one who appointed me to the college.

Prof.V.J.Augustine was very gracious to me and gave me the opportunity to teach in M.A.classes right away which he did not give to many of the other lecturers who were senior to me in the Dept.

In my first year as a lecturer, I was sent as a delegate along with Prof.V.S.Joseph to participate in a National Conference on American Literature organized by the American Embassy.I presented a paper on D.H.Lawrence.The participation in the conference made me enthusiastic to go for research in the U.S.

Another memorable thing is that we formed a Brains Trust under the auspices of the Dept. of English for faculty improvement. I presented a paper on "The Impersonal Theory of T.S.Eliot."

After a couple of years of teaching, in 1973, I was appointed the warden of St. Joseph’s hostel which increased my public role in the life of the college.The role as the warden gave me more opportunities to work with the students on various levels .Most of the students in the hostel were were very studious .I was happy that I got a chance to get involved in their lives and to help them to get motivated not only in their studies but in other extracurricular activities.

An unforgettable incident that happened in 1976 was the sudden and accidental death of Fr.James Valiaparampil.We were ordained together and did our postgraduate studies at the same time at S.B. . We also joined the college in the same year.He was one of my close friends as well as a great mentor.Even though we were classmates,he was two years older .We were wardens of neighboring hostels.While I was at St.Joseph’s, he was at St.Thomas’.On March 13,1976,Fr.James Valiaparampil went with his colleagues in the Dept.of Chemistry on a boat tour.I saw him waving his hand towards me in the morning as he was leaving for the tour .It was in March 1976 that Fr.James passed away.The funeral was attended by a large crowd.He was loved by all.H always was ready to help any one who asked him for assistance. He was a good friend of mine and I miss him sorely in my life.

In 1976, I got permission from the Archbishop to go for higher studies in the U.S.I applied to several Universities.Indiana State University offered me teaching assistance. I did then apply for a visa . I went to Madras for the visa after the Christmas celebrations in the hostel.I was able to get the visa and when I came back, I told my students after the night prayer about my decision to leave them and proceed to the States.I saw most of them crying . I was also sad in the sense that I won’t be able to see many of them in my life. They would all drift into different walks of life. Life’s journey would take them to different places. I got a shadow of that experience while I was returning from Madras after securing the visa and met some of our students at the Ernakulam bus station on my way to Changanacherry. They were the members of the Basket Ball team leaving for some college for the match. A good number of the players in the team was from my hostel.When I told them that I was returning form Madras with a visa for the States, they too broke down.

Everything moved fast and I was leaving India immediately after Christmas.I had to join the course at the Indiana State in the first week of Jan.

The hostel honored me with a farewell meeting at the Archbishop Kavykattu Hall.The parents were also there and some of them spoke at the meeting.My mother , brothers and all the students came to the airport.The students came in a bus.Fr.Maroor took pictures of the departures at the college as well as at the airport .

The fathers who were teaching in the college were very warm and friendly to me.The Principal,Rev.Dr.Antony Kurialacherry had written several reference letters for me to different Universities.

I also remember a trip that I had with him when he invited me to accompany him on a trip to Madras by car from Changancherry.He had tremendous confidence and courage.He decided on constructing some new buildings on the college campus—a new library ,a big Auditorium honoring the late Archbishop Mar Matthew Kavukatt and a staff hostel.The problem was the shortage of cement.Fr.Kurialacherry wanted to go to the office of the cement controller in Madras.That is why he wanted to go to Madras.I was just a fresh appointee at the college.But he wanted someone to go with him.We went to the office and I was waiting outside as he went in.But after an hour he came out beaming with joy.During the conversation, it happened that they found out that they were both students of the Loyola college, Madras. Permit for the needed bags of cement was granted immediately Fr.Kurialacherry got what he had asked for.Wagon loads of cement bags came to Changanacherry at a low price.

I enjoyed teaching.I was staying at the Staff Quarters with other bachelor lecturers as companions.After the class, we used to play badminton.It was a very fun time.We were back again in the court like young college students.Those who would like to play would wait for their chance.Those who came first after the evening tea break were the first to enter the court.Fr.Enas who later became the Principal of St.Thomas College,Palai was a very good player.In one of the annual competitions , my team with prof.T.J.Kurian won the prize.

In my first year of teaching, I received the Proficiency prize and the special award for my MA.Final Exams at the college Day celebrations.All my students clapped very heartily and cheerfully when I got on to the stage to receive the prize.

It was said by Fr.Mutttath who was then in Malayalam B.A class that Prof.Ulahannan Mappila remarked very positively about my teaching in his remarks to them as he got a chance to observe one of my first classes.

Prof.Ulahanna Mappila was my teacher while I was an undergraduate student at S.B.He had always treated me with great fondness.

Another remarkable thing was that I was appointed the Managing Editor of the college magazine and that gave me a lot of interaction with the teachers and students.I was also appointed the Managing Editor of the college souvenir published in 1973.The editing and the publishing of the souvenir gave me ample opportunity to work with the senior Professors in the various departments of the college.Prof.Ulahanna Mappila wrote a superb history of the college.That history is still a land mark.At that time many said that it was more on Prof. Mappila than on the college.But I did realize the importance of his writing and allowed it for publication without making any changes in it.

For the funds for the publication , I went with Profs.K.V.Joseph and A.E.Augustine to several firms in Cochin.We were successful in garnering some amount through advertisements.

It was Fr.Kurialacherry who changed the academic map of the college by erecting a big auditorium known as the Kavukattu Hall,the four storied Library and a Staff Quarters with chapel and a dining hall.He was a visionary and an inspiring presence on the campus.I was privileged to work with him and it gave me a lot of confidence.


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