Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Devikulam teacher

I had many nicknames. But the
one that got  stuck on me for a long time, was ‘Devan‘ . It was not at all a bad name. It was fashionable  even among film stars of those days. But It outlived many other nicknames I had. Not because of its novelty. But because of the unbearable  misery  it caused to me, which my brother  enjoyed much,
The story behind the nickname was so humiliating that  I would have  prefered any other, even the dirtiest one.
I did  not have much of schooling till eight. The private tuition at home taught me a bit of malayalam  and arithmetics. The estate schools to which I was sent for  short periods  to get a taste  of school atmosphere  taught me only a few tamil bad words. So at the age of seven I  was sent to the government school at Devikulam where the medium of instruction was malayalam.
The Devikulam  government high  school had a headmistress at that time. I don't think  I knew her name.  We used to refer to her as Devikulam teacher.
My father secured admission for  me  towards the end of an academic year. I think such admissions were rare and my father was able to secure  it only because of his position. I heard my father telling mother that the the headmistress agreed to admit me only  after  some  persuasion and that she too was bothered about education  of her girl child who was of my age. It seems  that my brother  also was there at the time.  
On the day of my joining the school I carried  a gift for the headmistress. It was a large packet  of the best  quality  tea along with the gate  pass that was required  to take it to anywhere. I was  sent  sufficiently  early  on that day  to the school along  with the peon of the estate office so that  I could  give it to the headmistress before  going to the school.  The teacher lived in a quarters on the road to the  school. I met her in front of her house and gave  her the packet  as instructed .The teacher  was pleased she asked me to convey  her  thanks  to my father. Her daughter  was also  with her. She had her head tilted to one  side always. Even  while  talking and walking.It was the first time I saw  such a person and I told my mother about her on my return from school.
My Devikulam school days  were limited  to  a month or so  and was event less, may be because I was familiar with  such  short assignments. I got promoted to the next class at the year end and became  eligible  to join any school.  But my problems  started there after.
My brother who was in the knowledge of  my educational standard was rather sarcastic  about the promotion I got. One day while playing snake and lader he got angry with me on losing three games in a row and alleged I won the games by cheating  just  like the promotion. “Tea gift” he called  out and thus the new name  started . Later he modified it to just “tea’. But though it served the purpose the name  was not good enough. So  he started calling out Devikulam teacher   whenever required as he did not know her name. He later shortened it to Devikulam and Devi. But Devi being a lady he changed it to Devan without  losing the effect on me. I would  not have cared much but for  what  followed.
Not satisfied with the effect of the new name on me he  attached a new theme.  I was to marry the teacher's  daughter and my father had agreed to it to secure the  promotion he added  
You know  how painful it was. But my brother did not stop even there
While calling Devan  he tilted his head as if he were the girl .
My parents and  elder sisters refused to interfere  in spite  of my besieging them to stop my brother from calling me Devan. ‘Devan ‘ means a lesser god as per the Hindu  mythology . How can it  be an offensive one they used to point out. And my brother continued to enjoy  some what free use of it for a long time to my utter despair.
I tried many names on him, to even out, without any success. So I  suffered for a long time.

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