Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To Sir with Love

Mr. Ramnarayan was our English teacher at our Cuddalore factory. An extremely nice gentleman who authored books on ‘How to write and speak English’. His speciality was his impeccable accent, diction and his strong basics on English grammar. He will be, I am sure, squirming within and without when he reads today’s SMS and E mails. Wit, humour and sarcasm have been his forte. When some student had told him that ‘a rose by another would smell as sweet’, he had retorted that ‘a chrysanthemum by another name would spell easier’. All of us present enjoyed his class thoroughly and looked forward to his weekly lectures.

In one such class, he had narrated a short story which till today remains etched in my mind. This was a real life story and I vividly remember the manner in which he had narrated this one. The story goes like this. Quote“ Ramnarayan Sir’s family consisted of five brothers, five sisters and their parents. One day it so happened that their mother prepared delicious halwa (Indian sweet delicacy) and all the brothers and sisters had feasted on the halwa. The father was at work and was to return at night. Their mother had lovingly kept a piece of halwa for her husband and duly placed it in a container. Her husband returned home at night when to her shock and embarrassment found the delicacy missing. She promptly ordered an enquiry into the ‘MISSING HALWA’, and informed her husband about the incident. Her husband, a disciplinarian and more catholic than the Pope, summoned all his children and got into intense cross examination. No one was ready to come out with the truth which made the father rant in fury. He gave them a final opportunity and closeted all his children in a room, bolted the door with instructions to come out clean within an hour. (These children, as ordinarily children are, would have even broken the eleventh commandment if one existed).

What, of course, transpired in the room is rather interesting. No one confessed to the salivating crime but rather a strategy was worked out. The grandiose plan was - all the brothers and sisters told Ramanarayan Sir that since he was the favourite and pet child of the parents, he should confess to the disappearing act. After initial refusal, Ramanarayan Sir was coaxed and convinced to believe that the parents wrath on him would be miniscule as compared to what would befall others. As the gong struck after an hour, our Ramanarayan Sir confessed to his parents and was anointed ‘Martyr at the Halwa Altar’. Sir was admonished before his siblings and part one of the story ended.

Part two seems to be more interesting and revealing of human nature. Ramanarayan Sir, after having owned the mistake on his siblings’ behalf, asked them who had in reality consumed the halwa. No one , again, relented. All of them got married over a period of time, had their own children and grand children and met once in a year congregating at their native place during Diwali. During every such get together, Sir asked each of them whether they could at least now reveal as to who had eaten the forbidden halwa. The answer to this question was never forthcoming. The family has met over the years several times, their parents have expired, some of the brothers and sisters have expired but to date the riddle of the missing halwa still remains unresolved. One cannot fathom whether the halwa has gone with one of those brothers and sisters who are no more, or whether the mischievous one who had indeed hideously consumed it is still alive. Ramanarayan Sir, for sure, rests comfortably content in his house knowing fully well that he is not the real culprit, and still smiles reminiscing the incident.

Why do human beings behave the way they behave?


VASAN said...

How did I miss this gentleman living next door?

Since our Refinery is coming up in Cuddlore, I shall try to meet him in Cuddalore, if he is still there.

Kavi said...

The last line left me pondering. And i guess has left many people pondering for ages !

Wonderful narration. And thoughtful articulation !

nsiyer said...

Hi Vasan, no I know you as Girivasan and that endears you to me. A Merry Christmas to you and a lot of love and warmtn that it brings.
Contact Mr.Sridhar and you can meet Ramanarayan Sir.

I have always wondered on such things and their beauty. My belief is as we age, revelation becomes more and more difficult unless one really chooses to show his vulnerabilities. Thanks.

Vivek Patwardhan said...

There is a convese of this story in Indian folklore. It is well captured in 'Maiya mori mai nahi makhan khayo' song where Lord Krishna gives every evidence possible and argues his case deftly like an advocate to convince his mother that he did not eat the butter.

Since then many ordinary mortals have copied just this aspect of the Lord's life. Ramnarayan & co. is not one of them and that makes them great.


The Comic Project said...

Your teacher's persistence brought a smile to my face :-)but the halwa refreshes another memory. There was a pooja in the house and my aunt had prepared some halwa, not a lot, just a few pieces - it was experimental and from what we could see (me and my 2 cousins - 13, 13 and 10), it looked TASTY.

Well, we had to wait till the vadiyar did his thing all morning. We waited..he had his lunch..and we waited..for him to leave, knowing that it was only a minute or two before we went for the halwa's jugular. Until my aunt decided to go the extra mile.
She offered the vadiyar "some halwa". Now instead of putting a few pieces on a plate, she took the little dabba full of halwa and put it in front of the vadiyar. The 3 of us just stood there, shocked at the turn of events and even more shocking was how the gentle bearded pot bellied vadiyar gobbled up every one of the pieces.

Needless to say, all 3 of us were united in our grief and the vadiyar was henceforth called "chor vadiyar" :-)

My comment has nothing to do with your post but I just had to tell this story.



Pearl said...

Wonderfully expressed.

And the person who can answer that question has the world at his feet!


Ganesh said...

Dear sir,

Great post on human psychology. As to why people behave the way they behave is not so easily explained. In certain situations we have to accept the given comprise and proceed with life.

I believe you know me. I'm Balu's son.

Please do visit my blog at




priya said...

Dear Sir,

Wonderful narration followed by a thought provoking question.

I'm sure all of us have such incidents from childhood.

Nuances of human behavior and getting a hang of it needs more than a lifetime!

PS: glad i came across your blog thru the AP group on linkedin. I was with systems at vakola.

nsiyer said...

Thanks Patwardhan Sir for your comments and bringing in the distinction.

Thanks TCP for the sharing through a wonderful story. Quite humorous except that you were robbed of the delicacy.

Thanks Pearl. Yes the attempt till the last breath is to go closer to unveiling the truth.

Thanks Ganesh for the wonderful comments. I will visit your blog and follow it. Nice talking to you today.

Yeah! Priya, nice to hear from you. Once an APite, always an AP ite.Thanks for the comment linking to searching the answer for a life time. Wonderful connecting.

RAJENDRA said...

Dear Sir
It brought back all those excellent time spent with you in Cuddalore. It was one such initiative you had taken to introduce Mr Ramanarayan to the Penta team which clearly made an impact on everyone's language. Good to listen the story again through you.
BR Babu

nsiyer said...

Thanks, Babu. Yes, it rekindles in me the long morning walks we had when we exchanged our experiences.

sridhar said...

Rekindled my memories and the fine time we had in the class. In fact even my wife attended the class as we were living downstairs of guest house. I took a print and have given to Ramnarayanan sir. I still remember the distinction after his class - concerned person and person concerned -- the difference.
very nice,