Too soon, it was time to go back to Mysore, to do my Bachelors degree. I wanted to take English Lit, Philosophy and Journalism as my electives and was thrilled to get this combo in the Maharaja’s College. Dad would not hear of it. He said there was no need for me to go to a co-ed college and that I should study in Maharani’s College for women. I was very disappointed but had little choice. I knew when dad meant what he said and had no intention of arguing with him. Anyway, my old friends were back into my life. Gayatri, Amba, Veena and Tita who, after finishing school, had joined this college where a separate room was allotted for Gayatri to ‘retire’ after class. I was happy to see them. Though I had many new friends by now, they were my childhood buddies and it was good to see them. All of us, except Tita, wanted to take English Lit as elective subject but the college did not offer that course. We met the Principal who agreed to get necessary sanctions to introduce it provided we had the mandatory number of seven students opting for it. I went around ‘hawking’ the idea and soon, we were there, seven students in the English Lit class! Amba became a Reader in that Department later. The other subjects we had to take were History and Political Science.
If Mrs. Watsa started my love affair with the English Language, it was Prof .B C Wesley who took it to divine heights. As he stood reading out passages from Pride and Prejudice or Macbeth, we were transported to another world. He made me love Alexander Pope enough to start writing poetry in couplets. I never missed a word of what he said in class because he told us what was not in the book. I emulated this style of his when I became a Lecturer, which meant more reading and widening one’s own knowledge base. A teacher’s role is to take the student beyond the boundaries of the mundane and become ‘Captain my Captain’ of his/her students.
Prof Wesley guided me when I prepared for by debates. He was always there for his students and his little room was crowded at any given time. When he died, I wrote a letter to the Editor of the local daily about one more star in the galaxy. A teacher’s influence is for eternity they say and I believe it.
It may be out of context, but I remember two events that created a stir when we were in college. One was the assassination of J F Kennedy. We were young romantics at heart and felt the pain of Jackie Kennedy as she stood silently beside her husband’s cortege, so dignified in her grief. Kennedy was our hero and Jackie symbolized the elegance and affluence of high society. We had a condolence meeting and we all sobbed unabashedly, for the young, handsome couple. When Jackie married Onassis, we felt let down and recently, when I read some books on Kennedy and Jackie, I was disillusioned to know our idols had clay feet.
The Nanavati case interested us. A naval officer, Nanavati had shot the man who was allegedly having an affair with his wife. We keenly followed the trail, our sympathies for the wronged husband. When he was convicted, we were angry with the Judge. We were naïve enough to believe all is fair in love and war!