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My Reminiscences

P. Balasingam

Reminiscences are seldom appreciated if the essay is an unsolicited one as it is often a stratagem to blow one’s own

trumpet.

It

would

nevertheless

be

welcome

if

it

is

a

Mr. Balasingam was the Principal at Hartley College from 1985 to 1993.

response to a formal invitation obligation to comply. The kind

and the request

invitee is under an of the Editor of the

Hartley College Miscellany seeking past Principal therefore makes me duty bound to write mine.

my recollections very comfortable

as a and

A college magazine endeavours primarily to record important events and achievements of the school for the enlightenment of posterity. As the period of my service marks a watershed in the history of our college some interesting and exciting experiences of mine do seem relevant and undoubtedly compulsory.

During his tenure of office Hartley

produced achievements

.

outstanding

As such, Hartley College was made the Lead school of a Cluster of 13 schools in Point Pedro with Mr. Balasingam as the Head.

This article gives an insight into the trying circumstances that prevailed at Vadamaradchy during his time.

I have tried my best to be selective and concise in my submission keeping dates and figures to an absolute minimum avoiding an appropriation of too many pages in the Miscellany as I am aware of the current high costs of publications. My impoverished memory and my separation from my college records by a long time and distance also do not permit an elaborate composition. It is hoped that any omission of a fact or figure thereby incurred would not be taken as an act of commission.

I became Principal in August 1985 when Hartley was a refugee at Puttalai MV owing to a ruthless declaration of the Point Pedro town area as a High Security Zone by the Sri Lankan military. Fortunately a brilliant and grateful past pupil of our college, C. Tharmalingam, was the Principal there at that time. He rallied to our help, like a Good Samaritan, anesthetizing our tribulations immensely with his large heart.

The accommodation he gave to his alma mater, winning the co-operation of his staff, students and the community around, was an amazing blend of magnanimity, love, empathy and sympathy. Giving us the exclusive use of his office room, the college hall, a two storied building and the school’s agriculture compound he virtually made it difficult to identify which school was the refugee- his or ours!

In this humane and hospitable environment we were able to keep up the splendour of our college as high as ever in both the curricular and co-curricular fields. My successor and one of my excellent friends, K. Nadarajah, has given a graphic portrayal of our achievements in the 1983/94 Miscellany. Though he has gracefully acknowledged my contribution I feel bound to say it was a collective achievement of my team of friendly colleagues and our brilliant pupils.

It would be superfluous for me to repeat the events he had so well chronicled. Therefore I shall confine myself to some interesting experiences I had. The effort, however, is daunting as an avalanche of memories suddenly assails my worn out faculties! So much so I feel somewhat like the mosquito in a joke that was wandering indecisively around a nude human body wondering from where to begin its first bite!!

My period saw two military operations of the Sri Lankan and Indian forces and as the head of one of the leading schools in the island I was commandeered into willy-nilly associations with them. I had to walk a tight rope without treading on the corns of the military or the militants. Though destiny threw me into this predicament, God whom I always beg and beseech, blessed me with the necessary fortitude to withstand triumphantly all the stress and strain it entailed.

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