Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh Nanna Chetana

M Subbannachar
M Subbannachar was the House Master of the residential school I studied. I studied in Sainik School Bijapur starting from 1970 to 77. I joined the school when I was 10 years. Mr.Subbannachar passed away two weeks back. Memories of fun, excitement, love, affection all come together rushing thinking of Mr.Subbannachar. He was mathematics teacher at the school; he had taken the responsibility of being a House Master of Adilshahi House. House master in school is in charge of the accommodation we stay in.

Entry in Sainik School Bijapur
I joined Sainik School after studying in Kannada medium Primary School from Hirekerur. Sri. Ramachandra Jannu, who then stayed at Hirekerur had put his two sons Aravind and Raghavendra at Sainik School. Sri. Ramachandra Jannu came one day to our primary school and picked up few boys to be taking the entrance test for entry into Sainik School. He was determined to put few boys to the school that he had seen and admired. Four of us from Hirekerur got into the school after two tests and an interview.

Adilshahi House
I joined the School; my guide during the joining period was MB Ravindranath of Adilshahi House. He went on to lead the troupes in Tololing and Tiger Hills during the Kargil war and was honored Vir Chakra for his team effort.  I was allotted a roll number 560 and house Adilshahi. After 30+ years from passing out of the school, the roll number and house are still our identity with all other Sainik School students, who are known as “Ajeets”. The Ajeets community is large and closely knit.

Adilshahi House became my house of residence for the next years of my stay at Sainik School Bijapur and all through my stay; Mr. Subbannachar was our house master. When I joined the school, I did not understand or know to speak English, but it was compulsory to speak English only. Publicly silent, we had to find private moments with friends to exchange notes in native language. The routine at school was rigorous right from waking up at 5.30 AM to going to sleep at 10.00PM.

Our House Master was our primary contact along with matron, whom we called “Aunty”. Waking up so early had not been our routine before we joined, so each day, Mr.Subbannachar would visit the dormitory, wake us up. He chased us to complete our morning routine in quick time to be ready for Physical Training or Parade, based on the day’s program. During these days, I had my first attempt in brushing my teeth using paste and a brush, washing my socks, polishing or whitening my shoes, wearing different dress for different occasions, properly belted, combing hair to be tidier than what we were used to. At the parade, he would say “left” “right” and teach us to be straight, chin up, elbows straight and digging our heels as we marched. 
He taught all of us the art of polishing shoes, whitening our canvas shoes, polishing our belts, combing our hair and to eat like gentle cadet. He visited our tables while we ate and ensured we ate well and did not waste any food. He knew some of us would not like few items that were served; he mentioned about the strength that we can derive.

We were growing and mischief was part of us, he was there watching us and just gave us a glance to discipline us. House competitions meant that he would give his best. His talent repository to train us in parade, in drama, song, art, public speaking, everything we needed to be trained in he was there. His eyes would not miss a broken button, unzipped trouser, unbuttoned flap amongst the 100 of us. I lost my father in 72 and my mother could not visit me and I was too young to understand all that. Subbannachar was there beside me, hugged me when I cried, perhaps I cried more to keen the embrace longer. Looking back, I now think, I did not miss my father because of Mr. Subbannachar’s presence. Subbannachar sir was the tower of strength, a power house of talent, warmth when we needed him most. I wonder sometime, how someone can be packaged with all of this. Adilshahi House was lucky to have him as House Master, batch after batch; he has done the same with all his energy. His family included Mrs. Subbannachar, always smiling, helped me out when my sister came to meet me at their house. I was also lucky to be classmate of Prahlad Subbannachar younger son, the elder one being Surendranath, both serving officers in the defence. Mr. Subbannachar’s daughters Uma and Usha stayed in touch with my sister long after I left the school.

What do I pray for Mr. Subbannachar, I don’t know, I want those moments back again. His soul rest in peace and make his family proud of Mr. Subbannachar’s service in nurturing many young minds.