I was suddenly reminded that today is your 102nd birth anniversary. I missed your 100th one but I will not let this one go without writing a few words. Your niece Chulie gave her account, but, let me add my story to complement hers.
My life has been and continues to be a joyful one largely to you, my dear teacher! My eyes get teary to think that I never put this fact in writing until now. I am never alone, thanks to you. My curiosity me keeps engaged every minute of my life. You gifted me a sense of wonder, the essence of science. Science was not just a subject for you. You lived it and you shared it with us. How did you that? Let me share a glimpse of how.
You were my physics teacher from Grade 9-12 at Musaeus College in the 60’s. You were then retired from being the vice-principal at Ananda, but, your niece, our beloved principal, Mrs. Dulcie Ganendra de Silva, in a major effort to revive the sciences, asked you to take over the physics department.
Heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism-the big five in physics came live to me through you. Each section, each lesson had more anecdotes than notes. ‘Bridge on river Kwaii’, ‘Two men on a Boat’, Sean Connery in “From Russia with Love’, Sandhya Kumari running down the slope in some local film, JeevaRani in Ranmuthu doova all were used to illustrate. You brought your stereo set for the lessons on sound. You backed the car all the way to the science building and hauled everything in by yourselves. Those days the sound equipment took a whole room. We silly girls did not help you enough to carry the stuff. You really wanted us to enjoy your music and perhaps show off your collection of LPs (long play vinyl records, the size of a large plate). You played us My Fair Lady and Sound of Music records. Before the ‘I am sixteen going on seventeen) song you asked us ‘how old are you” from some of us and our answers were hesitant, some numbers were deflated even! You were disappointed. You wanted to hear from us the exuberance of the young von Trapp girl, but, we were not. I remember you muttering under your breath “පැහිච්ච ගෑනු”!
You lessons on the lead accumulator is a classic I have heard. To this day, If required, I am sure I can write the full equation for the complex chemistry involved. The lesson took over several periods and was interspersed with your many anecdotes, mishaps with your car and its parts and all the stupid things that happened to you at every gas station you stopped and what Mrs. K thought of what not.
When ever a James Bond movie came to town you always gave us a briefing as to what to look for. ‘Lamayi’, look for the Geiger counter that bond is carrying. Watch for the large skate that makes an appearance while he is diving and so many other details. When the Apollo landing on the moon was happening, the physics lesson was all about that. We were glued to the radio following its progress.
Whenever I see a rainbow I think of you. As you walked into the class one day you drew your famous stick figure of a girl with her back to the sun and her eyes on the cloudy sky in front. Whenever I have the sun behind me and rain clouds in the front, I look for a rainbow and think of you. Clouds are made of tiny drops of rain that act like little prisms you told us. Think of the little girl going to school. A stick figure wearing a triangle for the dress. If the left hand is the ray going into the prism the right hand is the bent ray going out. All the calculations justifying the bending is somehow squeezed in after many anecdotes about Mrs. K or whoever was going to school and so on.
There is many more, but, it is exactly 12 midnight on your b’day. time to post this blog.
Till your next b’day,