Broken spectacles and promised dentures
In my first year at S.T.C.,I was assigned to teach Physics in the College for first year students of 'A Level form’.Brookie D' Silva who was subsequently Head Master of the Upper School, taught Botany while serving as the athletic coach and Hony. Secretary of the Public Schools Athletic Association. Vevil de Kauwe, of dancing fame, who was also M.I.C. of rowing, taught Zoology, while Arul Vedamuthu, a Royalist to boot and a no-nonsense teacher, taught Chemistry.

It was the 1st term of the year and the Sc. B class had a large number of sportsmen. I realized fairly early during my stay at S.T.C, that both studies and sports were taken seriously. The prestige associated with winning in sport was very strong and the unyielding grit, which is still a vital ingredient of a thoroughbred Thomian, had been inculcated in the minds of the boys from their formative years.

The Royal - Thomian always took pride of place, particularly in cricket,where it appeared, that the whole existence of the school depended on the outcome of the match. Any Royal-Thomian encounter was fought fiercely and grimly.The culmination of all cricket activities of both schools was the Royal-Thomian match held in the first term. At S.T.C the monotonous refrain echoed by the great cricket coaches was that Royal must be destroyed. The presence of cricketers in class was rare. The Warden of the school, C.H. Davidson; the Sub-Warden, F.J. Senaratne and the Head Master of the Upper School were all sportsmen in their time and showed unabashed sympathy, if not bias, toward S.T.C. sportsmen and in particular to cricketers in the spirit of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

The Chemistry teacher, who was the son of a Senior Superintendent of Police and in fact a knowledgeable man of sport, thought otherwise. He was young, fearless and a nonconformist, who felt, notwithstanding being a broad based educated Royalist, that studies came first. He was conscientious and took his task of teaching Chemistry seriously with single minded purpose of making every student he taught a Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry in a prominent University, or a Professor with a PhD. It was his misfortune or fate that his class should have had many cricketers. If my memory serves me right, to mention a few, there were - Randy Morrell (Captain of Cricket), Tony Sirimanne (Vice Captain of Cricket & Rugby Captain,L.S. Perera,Kumar Boralessa, Premalal Gunasekera and Barney Reid.

After Chapel on a Monday morning, Mr. Davidson pulled out the report of Barney Reid and asked me to read it. Against his Chemistry marks, Arul had written - took 8 wickets for 2 runs and 3 wickets for 17 runs. When I smiled, he told me as he was my friend to ask him to write a fresh report as he could not possibly put his signature to this report. I met Arul and was told that he had never seen him in class and could not even assess him for appropriate remarks and what he knew of him, he only gleaned from the newspapers!. Incidentally this was S.T.C. vs St. Sebastian's in which game Barney Reid had got these figures.

Arul displayed open hostility towards the cricketers. They reciprocated by deliberately annoying him and often Arul erupted with a severe tongue lashing. On one such day in a fit of anger he threw the duster at the offender. Unfortunately his aim was off target and it hit Randy Morrell squarely on his spectacles and broke one of the lenses.

Randy's mother was the college Matron and lived in the premises. By administering the tough boarders at S.T.C, she had herself become a no-nonsense person. The tale Randy made up that he had accidentally broken the specs did not serve the purpose as the word got around and she finally found out the truth.

Incensed by the fact that her son, the college Cricket Captain and a Prefect, had been humiliated, she rushed to the Warden and accused him of having thugs on the staff who manhandled boys. However,out of respect for the Warden, she finally cooled down and left.

Once again the Warden asked me to speak to Arul on his hot temper and make peace with the cricketers, as it was now becoming almost open warfare. Arul showing no remorse, but as an act of reparation, replaced Randy Morrell's broken pair of spectacles. This was construed by the boys as a punitive act imposed by the Warden on him. In fact he did so of his own volition.

The day after Randy was presented with his new pair of spectacles, Tony Sirimanne and Randy Morrell, who normally occupied the last bench of the Chemistry lecture room on the highest elevated platform, suddenly changed their seats to the front row, to be directly in front of the teacher who conducted the Chemistry lectures.

As Arul entered the lecture room, the talking ceased and there was pin drop silence. Arul placed his books on the table before him and studied his tormentors suspiciously The drama had been stage rehearsed. While the rest of the class was quiet, Tony Sirimanne broke into a derisive smile and Randy Morrell with exaggerated effort pulled out his glasses, puffed into them and proceeded to clean them, in an exercise that was guarantied to make the fuming volcano before them, erupt.

Arul absorbed it all and kept his cool while his mind was racing. He then addressed Tony and in a sweet disarming voice asked him "Sirimanne, why are you grinning like a jackass ?" Replied Tony - "No Sir, I just recalled a joke that was told to me sometime ago". The pressure within Arul was building up but he was not going to permit the youngster to get the better of him.

He calmly told him - "I know why you are grinning. I broke Morrell's spectacles and bought him a pair. With great pleasure I shall knock that smile off your face and your teeth and gladly buy you a set of dentures." He was a good teacher and took his teaching seriously. He has since emigrated to England.

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