this poor Balasingam an army Junior immediately got hold of me thinking he had caught the elusive one the IPKF were after! My protests in English fell on deaf years as the officer knew only Hindi. On his message the local Chief rushed to the spot to get the ‘prize catch’ only to be disappointed that it was I whom he knew well enough. He was very apologetic for the mistaken identity and chided the officer. Then he asked me jokingly whether there was anything common with Anton Balasingam as I shared his name. When I replied that we both shared only diabetes he laughed heartily commending my sense of humour and let the bus proceed.
Hartley College did very well during my tenure that coincided with the eight years a Hartleyite goes through from Year Six to Year Twelve. We had a fine team of friendly colleagues on our staff who carried the students through a wide field of academic, cultural and social disciplines along with sports and games and put them on the highway to the Universities and professional careers in our country and abroad. Many of the pupils of my period are today shining high in many a capital in the world boosting the ever growing luster of our Bounteous Mother and giving me, along with the other Principals and the teachers, the serene joy and privilege of basking in Her reflected glory.
It would be fascinating to give out the names of my colleagues and students but sincere concerns and constraints nip the urge in the bud. It would consume pages and pages of the Miscellany. Also if anything is left unsaid what is said would beget unwelcome heartburns. The effort may end up, as a “koon pirai nethi enral kurrai mugam irrundu pawgum” essay to quote a famous tamil poet! The 1983/94 Miscellany is recommended for anyone interested in the names.
However, at this juncture my gut feelings tell me, all my colleagues will welcome, may indeed demand, that I make an exception to the above constraint in the case of K. V. Ponnampalam who was our Deputy Principal during my period. Blessed with great qualities of head and heart he was such a quintessence of amiability, tact and politeness that everyone of us held him high in our esteem and love. Above all he was my alter ego and in the context of the Cluster System and its attendant duties and responsibilities that often kept me away from my table he acquitted himself creditably as the virtual Principal. Thanks to him nobody found my performance wanting in anything and I deem it a privilege to record my grateful appreciation of his service at Hartley College.
My recollections will be found deficient if I fail to acknowledge the magnificent and timely aid and assistance our College received from the TRO, FORUT, the ADB and from our own marvellous rainbow of PPA in Pt. Po., Colombo, London, Canada/USA and Australia. We couldn’t have succeeded as we did in restoring the vigour and vitality of our College without their help. The Colombo PPA with their classic celebration of our alma mater’s ter-jubilee in 1989 made the Government of Sri Lanka issue a commemorative stamp and had the whole world salute her blue and red flag. This event and the wonderful receptions given to me on my retirement by the entire college, our tutorial and ancillary staff, Prefects Union, Scouts Squad and later by the PPA in Pt.Po, Colombo, London, and Canada shall remain ever green in my grateful memory. I end these recollections with my thankful prayers to God for the merciful guidance and guardianship He gave me throughout my tenure.
This article was to be published in the school Miscellany 2008. But it did not materialise. We extend our thanks to Editor, Hartley College Miscellany for this consent in reproducing it here.