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Old 24-07-09, 10:37 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Mr Bernard Jayasinha

The free thinker
My Days at S.T.C.(Episode 4)
By Quentin Israel
Bernard Jayasinghe was a very popular teacher both with the staff and the boys. Apart from being a few years senior to me in age as well as in service, we had much in common. While I was Form Master of Upper 6A, a class for boys who had failed their O.Levels and with tough rugby players of the calibre of Roger D'Silva, Junee Cader and Cecil Perera, to mention a few, Bernard was in charge of Upper 6B, a class that was more study oriented. We were also both Old Trinitians and taught mathematics in parallel classes at the O. Levels.

In his early days as a teacher, he used to cycle to S.T.C. and on his way back he always purchased a pound of bread which he placed on his handlebar when he cycled back to his residence on Station Road, on the Mount. This earned him the nickname "Phaan Karaya" which did not bother him in the least, as there was no disrespect implied.

He was a good teacher, but at times subjected to lapses in memory which unwittingly made him a source of amusement, but never of derision.Though boys made fun of him, he was never at the butt end of jokes.

One day after roll call after the lunch interval, it was reported to the Sub Warden by the Prefects, that some boys were seen scooting out of the Main Block, a building which also housed the O. Level boys.

All teachers were provided with large personal 'Record Books' with provision to record their daily work per subject per class, as well as certain square sub sections for the purpose of marking attendance per period. The name of any boy playing truant could thereby be traced by checking the names of those present against the Form Teachers’ register. It was a simple exercise.

Bernard was explaining the intricacies of the Pythagoras' Theorem to a particular boy who appeared to be deliberately making life difficult for him, when the Sub Warden's peon arrived and stood at the classroom door, with a note in his outstretched hand. This perhaps aggravated his annoyance. He hurriedly rushed to the peon, plucked the note from his hand and impatiently blurted out "I say, the Sub Warden wants some information. Will the absentees please stand up". There was only a mild titter in the class.

Though he was the author of many amusing incidents, no boy ever took advantage of him. There were even times when he used to put boys on the form and later during the course of the period inquire from them, (having forgotten why he put them there), why they were standing on the form. To those not initiated in the less serious form of punishment, standing on the form meant standing on the chair, one would normally be seated on.

There is another incident associated with him, which I find extremely difficult to believe, but knowing his absent mindedness may indeed have happened.

The O. Level result were out and a boy in the Upper 6B form, whose name I withhold, but is known to be associated with this incident, had failed miserably. He hailed from a prominent and wealthy family from the South and never took his studies seriously, firm in the knowledge that his future was secure and that any effort to improve his horizon of intelligence was an exercise in futility.

Knowing that Bernard would enter his Chemistry practical class, he flushed the transparent Sulphuric acid from a reagent bottle labelled "Sulphuric Acid", into the sink, rinsed it thoroughly,filled the bottle to the usual level with water, and replaced it on the rack.

When Bernard entered the class, he dramatically took the bottle and loudly wailed, "Sir, I have failed my exam and my father will throw me out of my home. I have nowhere to go, so I am taking this," removing the stopper of the reagent bottle as he spoke.Bernard came running to him, shouting "Stop, stop, stop".

The boy queried, "Why Sir?" Excited and distraught, the teacher without thinking, blurted "You will get up dead." The boy pulled the bottle from near his mouth and said "Sir, that is murder."The teacher, unaware of his error in English, but realizing the crisis was over, eased off and told him, "That won't be murder, that will be suicide." The class broke into laughter. This following incident I narrate, took place during the time of Canon R. S. de Saram.

The annual returns were due and the usual cyclostyled documents, asking for the statistics of the students, as required by the Department of Education, were circulated to all form teachers. This in effect consisted of one leaf printed on both sides, one side requiring statistics by race and the reverse side, the statistics by religion. There was an asterisk against each grand total, with a note that the grand totals should tally.

Bernard entered his class and announced that the statistics of boys were required, by race and religion. First by race, he said, and asked the Low Country Sinhala boys, the Up Country Sinhala boys, the Sri Lanka Tamils, the Indian Tamils, Malays, Moors and Burghers respectively to stand, counted them and then asked them to sit. He was happy that the total tallied with the total as found in his register.

He then started taking the statistics by religion and to his dismay encountered a snag. In succession he asked the Buddhists, Hindus, boys of Islamic faith and then the Christians, according to their denominations, to stand and be counted. He was perplexed to find that one boy had not been accounted for. Irritated, he asked them to stand and repeated the process. Still one short. He did it again, with the same result.He then asked the boys to stand and by religion made them to sit and found one boy standing. "Why are you standing?" demanded Bernard. "You did not call my religion, Sir" replied the boy. "What is your religion ?" queried a perplexed Bernard. "I am a free thinker, Sir," shot back the boy. Bernard perused the document before him and said, "There is no provision for Free Thinkers." "I do not know that Sir, my father gave me permission to be a Free Thinker," said the boy, defiantly.

The next morning after Chapel service, Bernard met the Warden and told him that his totals did not tally as one boy insisted that he was a free thinker. In his nasal monotone, the Warden told Bernard, "Send the boy to me."

The young, impetuous boy stood before the Warden. "What is your name, boy?" asked the Canon in a stern voice. He gave his name. "What is your religion?" the Warden demanded. "Free thinker, Sir !" said the boy spiritedly.The Canon exploded, "You better think again or else find another school." "I am an Anglican," said the boy meekly. "Inform your class teacher that your thinking process has been reversed," said the Canon, dismissing him. It was a rare occasion when he did not refresh the boy's thinking with the use of the cane.

Shakespeare.........."Laughing Faces Do Not Mean That There Is Absence Of Sorrow But It Means That They Have The Ability To Deal With It".

Last edited by sriyanjay; 14-06-11 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 29-01-11, 06:03 PM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default Extrem right Mr B D Jayasinha.

Photo taken in Canada.

L to R, Mr J M V L Peiris, D R Weerasinghe, Mr G Thambiturai, Mr S Sivananam & Mr B D Jayasinghe.
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Last edited by sriyanj; 03-08-16 at 08:21 PM.
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