Ah, School

School supports a level of hypocrisy that cannot go without notice elsewhere in life.

Often, when we deigned to attend the morning assembly, we would listen to our Principal exhorting us to use the language the colonialists had brought to our soil. “Speak in English!” Our teachers, even the ones who pronounced ‘wizard’ as ‘why-zaard’, often took up the same cause.

It was up to us students to stand up and protect our mother tongue, something our politicians had been saying for decades. I’m not sure if it was this linguistic patriotism that brought us all together. But only one thing mattered – we were rebels, and successful ones at that. If a teacher sneaked up to a bunch of students, she’d find us obstinately chattering away in Tamil. Some students went to the extent of failing their English exams (though that might have had something to do with writing “I went to Abroad. It is a very nice place. Weather is very good” on an English essay).

However, we found support from unexpected quarters. If an enterprising student sidled up to a group of teachers having an animated conversation, said enterprising student would find them conversing in the language that Bharathiar claimed to be his favorite.

Why, if an even more enterprising (and courageous) student sneaked into the Principal’s office, he/she would hear her talking in… you don’t need three tries to guess right. No, the answer isn’t the West Germanic language of England.

The people working in my School’s office used Tamil (thank god for that); some of our younger (or more popular) teachers spoke to us students in Tamil outside of class. For obvious reasons, we never took anyone seriously if they asked us to suddenly start speaking to each other in English.

But apparently the Principal was serious; one day, she decided she had had enough. She ordered the incarnates of Shakespeare in the school office to make posters that would inspire us to verbally communicate in English. We walked into School and found signs on all the corridors. Large, ugly, Times New Roman font printed on cheap A4 paper, cello-taped to the walls.

SPEAK ENGLISH
ONLY IN THE CAMPUS

I was impressed by the surprisingly reasonable request – the School seemed to realise that we were never going to abandon our language of choice, and now it was willing to settle for less: ‘only in the campus’. I’m sure some of the younger, chamathu kids took its message quite seriously, and spoke in pure Tamil up until the moment their polished Bata shoes stepped into the School grounds.

Imagine their consternation when the signs were all replaced within a day:

SPEAK ENGLISH ONLY
IN THE CAMPUS

Turns out the patrons of English in the school office had misunderstood the Principal. Ah, I love my high school.

P.S.:
There’s a certain pleasure to be found in others’ foolishness. The human race thrives on it – some make a living out of providing the fodder, while others enjoy the meal. FailBlog is a website that helps deliver the fodder to the recipient. The memories chronicled in the post above were triggered by this.

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