Father’s Help. R.K.Narayan Story. Reintroduced by P S Remesh Chandran.
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.
Children are very reluctant to go school due to various reasons, especially on Monday mornings. They will find many excellent reasons for not going to school, which are not new to us as we all had taken out the same excuses in our childhood days to evade going to school. But it is good to be very sympathetic and considerate to them in their little problems which to them are big. Who knows whether they would be having big genuine problems in school or not? This article is dedicated to the tiny buds of this world.
A tale from the banks of the vanished and imaginary Sarayoo River.
R.K.Narayan is a famous novelist and short-story writer fromIndia. Many of his stories are pictured as happening in the Malgudi District in South India which never existed. These stories became famous as the Malgudi Stories. Malgudi is an imaginary district situated on the banks of the imaginary Sarayoo River. It is widely believed that this Sarayoo River made its appearance on this earth from the heaven and in the middle of forgotten ages decided to disappear below ground. The scientists and explorers did try to prove the once-existence of this mythical river. R.K.Narayam’s Malgudi District stories are in this respect identical to Thomas Hardy’s Wessex County novels. Narayan’s style is simple, lucid and humorous. Narayan’s father’s name was Krishnaswami Iyer of Rasipuram in Tamil Nadu, who was a provincial school headmaster. His brother R.K.Laxman also is a renowned cartoonist.
Would anyone enter the mind of children going to school unwillingly after protestation?
The South Indian boy Swami is reluctant to go to school on Mondays as boys everywhere are, which is a universal phenomenon. He told his mother that he cannot go to school that day because he had a headache, which also is universal. Going in a Jutka (cart) will only make things worse. Moreover, he had no important lessons for that day. He convinced his mother who was very easy to be convinced as mothers everywhere are, but his father was a very stubborn person. He lied to his father that Samuel teacher would beat him mercilessly if he went to class late and that it was very late to go to school already. The teacher was a very violent man who would cut him to pieces with a cane and twist his ears. He also told his father a few false stories about Samuel teacher’s cruelty to children. His father became such furious that he wrote a very lengthy letter to the Headmaster which would bring Samuel teacher’s sure punishment and eventual dismissal from service. Thus Swami was forced to attend school that day with this letter.
One day is enough for a boy to provoke a teacher into doing some horrible crimes against him.
On his way to school Swami had many thoughts. Samuel teacher was not a very bad teacher. Of course he beat boys, but he was not totally unkind as the other teachers. Swami could not find any fault with that man that would make his dismissal from service deserving. By the time he reached the school gates, he had resolved to hand over the letter to the Headmaster not in the morning, but only in the evening. Within that time, he was sure he could do something most mischievous to provoke the teacher to do some horrible crime against him that would make his punishment justifiable.
The astonished student finds the teacher has developed tolerance and gentleness overnight.
Samuel teacher taught Arithmetic in Swami’s class in the morning and History in the evening. In the Arithmetic class he was not punished for coming late or for not doing his homework. He was not minded but just ignored. His headache was readily accepted as an excuse. To his astonishment, the teacher seemed to have developed tolerance and gentleness overnight. He waited for the History class in the evening to come. In the History class he tried in many crazy ways to provoke the teacher to beat him. He asked many wayward questions, shouted several times in the class and answered questions that were asked to others. Finally he succeeded in obtaining eight hot cane cuts on his palm. Thus, when the evening bell rang, with satisfaction and without feeling any guilt, he went to the Headmaster’s room to deliver the letter from his father. Alas, the Headmaster was on leave for a week and the Assistant Headmaster Samuel teacher was in-charge of the Headmaster. He did not dare deliver the letter to the man. When he returned home his father called him a coward, and tore the letter to pieces.
Had there been no problems in school, would the child be unwilling to go to school?
This story was written by R.K.Narayan in the beginning of the Twentieth century, based on the experiences of a child in Indian circumstances. The times have changed and the perspective has now become universal. Academic syllabuses and the modes of students’ travel to schools have changed much. But what did not change was our attitude to children’s problems. Had there been no problems in school, and had the school atmosphere been very interesting and stimulating to children with their friends and play opportunities, would a child be unwilling to go to school? There of course are genuine reasons for a child to be refusing to go to school.
Sadism and masochism now prevalent and dominant in the teaching world.
Pestering and persecuting teachers are the prime reason for the child trying to keep away from school. Sadists and masochists are now in plenty among the teachers. Professional quality of teachers has also dwindled. Ethics in profession and pedagogical values are never kept. Trade unionism consumed and ate into excellence. Corruption is the face mark of educational administration. Governments shamelessly accept money from bargaining private managements and license opening and running of schools as they like including medical schools. Politicians and legislators are no more ashamed at the guilt of getting in the middle of auctioning of school permits. In India, if we give bribe to educational authorities and the private school managements, any low class graduate can become a teacher. Even talented teachers have to secure their jobs through bribery. This dissatisfaction and hatred they feel in securing their jobs are extended towards children in the form of intolerance, leading ultimately to unrest in schools. The child has nothing at all to do in this except bear the brunt of things.
Educators around the world have become one of the obstacles to education.
Another factor that make children loath going to school is their backpacks. It weighs often up to 20-25 kilos. When we ask children why it is so, they answer that everything has to be taken to school each day, if not the teacher will beat them, put them out of class or send them away from school. We will wonder whether drug companies manufacturing medicines for back pains and back bone deformities are bribing the world educational authorities to continue this practice and keep back from bringing about humanitarian legislation. Why can’t the world legislate and limit their daily burden to below 5 kilos, including water bottles and food? When one of the world renowned teachers, writers, philosophers and former Presidents of India Dr.S.Radhakrishnan said “we are faced with the paradoxical fact that educators have become one of the obstacles to education,” it was very true. The morning face of a child going to school is the most beautiful thing in this world to see. That radiance there is the guarantee that human beings are taken care of in the Universe. Will it continue to be so in the coming years?
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:
Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.
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Meet the author
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.