The chosen path: part 6 and the end.

Colleges were supposed to be English medium by default. But, there was no strict rules, like 100 Rs fine if you speak anything else!. But all exams are to be written in English. Some teachers also mostly use English in class, partly to expose the terms and concepts in English.

There was one interesting thing the principal did for me. The college was running two shifts: 9 to 1, and 1.30 to 5.30. Principal told me to take the afternoon slot. Most students take the morning slot. He said, therefore, there will be less disturbance in afternoon. And we lose less classes due to strikes and the like. As I mentioned earlier, student unions were very strong in Kerala then. College elections were fought between KSU (Congress) and SFI (communist). As freshers, when we enter college, there are hundreds of pamphlets from both parties welcoming us. Strong political presence meant strikes etc were also common. Choosing afternoon shift protected me and others in that shift from such disturbances.

Another innovation he brought in was the formation of a P&S club. His purpose was to encourage potential rank holders to grow. A few people whom he considered as potential rank holders were added to this club. P was for Philos (love) and S was for Sophia (wisdom), meaning love for wisdom – his own choice of name; but I liked the concept. Members were essentially those who were learning focused. I was also added to this club! Teachers spent more time with us, discussing topics in more depth. I do not have much detailed memories of this club, but it helped to connect with a bigger world.

One of the most significant turning point in college was meeting Fr Francis Kurissery (a missionery Father). He was Oxford educated and his English had an excess of that. He told us, it is not love, but luf, not move, but muf, and so on. He taught us English prose in first year – an enjoyable class. Afternoon shifts being relatively light weight (not too many parallel batches), there were more time to meet the teachers. Fr Francis was very friendly and jovial with all. It was he, in one of our meetings jn P&S club told me that I should try for something like IIT! I was puzzled.

When I went home, I told my mother – Fr Kurissery is saying I should join some ITI, why is he saying that? She, of course, had no answer. I went to Soosanna teacher and asked her. As I mentioned, she was my alternate mother often. She gave me some idea of what it is. I think what struck most was it is easier to get a job, and expenses are less. Both were important. I later discussed with Fr also, for more details.

I recall a friendship with two of my batchmates from near our village: Anil and Shaji, who joined me in the quest for IIT. We together started a journey for the next 2 years trying to reach that level from the typical Univ exam level. My mother was concerned about my going away, after the loss of my brother; but eventually accepted this also bravely.

To avoid this being like a TV serial, I am going to stop this long short story here. If you had the courage, patience and whatever to read this far, thank you very much for your support and kind words. I may have disappointed many who thought there will be a Bahubali-3 or something coming up. Do share whatever your comments are either in message or mail or comments here.

And the climax. I did come out successful in JEE, with a good rank. There was only one round/level then. Neither of my friends made it, unfortunately. I ended up with Computer Science at IIT Madras – the second batch in CS from there. It was very early days of computers in India. IIT was very punctual, and I joined there as scheduled. While there, one day, got a letter from my mother, in my hostel Mandakini in IIT, saying the pre-degree results have been announced, and I have got third rank in Calicut University. University results were not critical for IIT then, and our classes had already started. Since I was away from Kerala, the event passed of without any significance. Newspapers (as I said, they do report 1, 2 and 3 ranks) who came home were given a photograph, and handled by my mother. I met Christ College principal and Fr Kurissery when I came home in vacation, and they were happy.


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