Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teacher-pupil association, some letters

When I was quite young, my grandfather K.M.Subba Rao was very fond of mentioning Tait's name often but I cannot recollect the precise situations.  This is how I got familiar with the name of Tait.  Subba Rao died in 1976.

J.G.Tait, M.A was his teacher in two colleges between 1916 and 1922. Let me show some pictures first. 

Cropped picture from 1915-16, from group picture below.
Click on all the pictures to see and read the enlarged views.

My grandfather's cousin K.S.Krishna Rao is in the picture [arrow marked].  Tait must have been a very reputed teacher already.  I know not what subject he taught.

This is from the picture below, 'Senior Intermediate' class, 1916-17. 

 K.M.Subba Rao [marked S] and another illustrious person who was to become renown [and relative to him] in Mysore University, S.V.Ranganna [marked R] are in this picture. Central College, Bangalore.

Young Subba Rao, cropped from the group picture above was like this.  He was 20 years old in 1916. He had been married in 1914.  Senior Intermediate would be now equal to, I think Class XII.

Tait also taught at Madras Christian College, Madras [Chennai].  Picture above is from 1918 and shows him seated behind the huge winner's trophy and looking a wee bit older and Subba Rao is standing behind him.  I am not sure what he studied at Christian College before his stint for B.A. at Presidency College, also at Madras between 1919 and 1922.  The picture is with a few members of Christian College cricket team taken after it became winners. I will soon connect Tait's letter with this picture.  

Tait must have retired in thereabouts of 1920 and had gone back to his home in Edinburgh and had kept in touch with his old pupil through letters for many years after his retirement.  

A couple of years after Subba Rao died, my search for old postal stamps landed me at a bunch of letters in an old dusty almirah.  Among the hundreds of letters also from Subba Rao's father's time, were a few letters which were signed,  "J.G.Tait", kept in their respective postal envelopes, coming from Britain.   The name 'Tait' rung a bell. I read the letters and was impressed by the beautiful way they were written, in typically British style, and without missing the personal touch. I took care of them the way Subba Rao did, thereafter.  

One letter Tait wrote in 1926 was of particular fondness to me also because of the mention of Subba Rao's cricket and his finger accident at cricket!  Tait remembers and writes about the very match in which how Subba Rao's magnificent bowling was instrumental in bringing victory for Christian College [group picture shown above]: "I am sorry to hear of the accident that had ended your cricketing career.  I shall never forget that match with Law College when you got their three best wickets clean bowled. They looked like winning when you went on, but your first over made a startling change."   Read this in the second image below.

The last bone of my grandfather's little finger of the right hand was missing and I could relate the story he used to narrate us how it was damaged when he tried to take a catch during a cricket match.  Also observe how Tait recallrs names of his pupils vividly, years since they were separated.

It goes to show how beautiful the relationships were between them.  Tait also writes about his son Peter and his cricket, about his old mother's health and about various other things.  

Keep an eye on the postmarks to see how long it took for Tait's letter to reach Subba Rao. Amazingly quick even in those days!

After his B.A, Subba Rao graduated in Law [LLB] from Bombay University, in 1924 and was a renown advocate from 1925-1976 till his death.  How he chose Law is another story for another post.  Subba Rao was also a true and fine sportsman having made a name for himself in many sports also, of which I have separately posted.

From the letters, I see how important Tait's impression was on Subba Rao's future career and personality and proving that a good basis is of utmost value. 

1 comment:

aargo said...

An interesting post.
Do you have any material/reference related to Prof. Devanathachar of Central College in your archives.
If so please let me know.