That sums up in a nutshell what it meant to Gnanam to be a teacher. I know it full well as a beneficiary.
This is a heartfelt tribute to a friend and teacher from a student who owes so much.
It is not often that one grieves deeply over the passing away of someone who is not one of the family. If there is to be an exception then I have no doubt that Gnanam is one who evokes that sincere feeling deep in one’s self. There was more than one reason why Gnanam meant so much to me. It is not common to consider a teacher your very good friend. Gnanam certainly fitted into that group. I hope without offence to anyone under even more exceptional circumstances Gnaanm even turned out to be a competitor when Gnanam and I set our eyes on the same girl! I do not want to gloat over but the rest is history.
Gnanam and I came to be friends as members of the altar boys service at our beloved parish church Our Lady of Refuge, OLR to us. Gnanam was about four years ahead of me and following exceptionally good performance at St. Patrick’s College entered the university: not a very common occurrence. Friendship led to admiration. Gnanam’s ability was so highly regarded at SPC that the rector Fr. Arulnesan took the opportunity to get him to do special physics classes during the university vacations which was greatly appreciated by the students. Casting my mind back to those days Gnanam and I agreed that it was a little strange that the relationship between two good friends, Gnanam just outside but in the class room was Sir. Gnanam later revealed that he was certainly more uneasy than I was when I addressed him Sir. Gnanam was not my official class teacher but continued to transfuse physics into me with unofficial tuition classes.
Before I go any further into how much I owe to Gnanam I must admit recognise that it was Team SPC at work. I am sure that many old boys will recall with the fondest memories of our time at SPC and acknowledge the enormous inspiration that was imparted to us in contributing to our development. The sense of discipline the devotion to duty was engraved in us. But this was a consequence of the devotion we saw in our teachers. Permit me to illustrate how I benefited personally. Without any shame let me acknowledge that my chemistry was so abysmal that I got only eighteen marks (yes 18%) in the withdrawal test and was very rightly withdrawn from sitting for the university entrance examination. At this point Sam master decided that he had to act and for six months took it upon himself to drill chemistry into me and believe it or not it was all free. It was a challenge as far as he was concerned to salvage a lost cause. Lo and behold I must be the only student who having been withdrawn succeeded in getting into the university.
Gnanam’s devotion went even further. I happened to be the goalie and the St. Patrick’s, St. Henry’s clash was only two weeks prior to the commencement of the university entrance exams. Much against my mother’s total refusal to let me play in the match I played and fell and had a large abrasion in my right knee. It was not long before that it got very badly infected and I developed a high temperature and for a week before the examination I was confined to bed with a high temperature and shivering away. Gnanam had noticed my absence from school and visited me at home and decided that he would come every evening after school and revise the whole of physics with me, which he duly did.
I have no doubt that without the help and determination of Gnanam and Sam I would be writing this today. It was the pride with which they went about their duties that was admirable and has been an inspiration to all those who saw it in action. It was their love to teach that drove them and their love and desire to teach is elegantly expressed in the opening lines of my tribute.
I am certain that many would remember how often that I have recalled my experience of these two great teachers. I can never thank them adequately ever.
While expressing my gratitude and admiration to Gnanam we should not fail to appreciate the contribution of our Alma Mater which produced such men and continues to do so today. We at St. Patrick’s college should feel immensely blessed. Thanks to the dedication of the missionaries, they not only ensured that we had a good religious education but they also ensured that through the years they gathered dedicated teachers who took pride in providing a good secular education for us to leave school as educated literate young men. Many Patricians were privileged to enter public service or become professionals.
The tributes that have poured in serve to remind us all of the great respect and admiration in which Gnanam was held. It is my privilege to add these few sincerely felt words.
May his soul rest in peace and his way of life continue to inspire us all.
My dear Patricians, friends and families,
As you all know the whole world was devastated by the recent events that unfolded in Sri Lanka. The carnage is unfathomable. Innocent peace loving families who were attending the holy mass suffered immeasurable losses. The families who survived the injuries require immediate, medium term and long term support.
The main problems are as follows:
1.Loss of bread winners leaving the family in financial hardships
2.Loss of parents leaving the children as orphans.
3. People who survived life threatening injuries need long term rehabilitation.
4. The mental agony needs a structured psychological support.
We, as patricians, would like to join and support our brethren as the situation is dire. We are planning to raise funds and ensure that whatever little financial support we offer, reaches the needy, in full. We are hoping to achieve this through the priests who are on the ground managing the situation at present. Our collection will be distributed equally among the three churches without any bias.
Therefore, my dear friends please heed the call and rise to it.
Please be very generous. We stand together and support our people at their time of need.
God Bless You All.
St Patrick’s College, Jaffna AA UK
My Beloved Teacher – Mr AS Augustine