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Teaching and learning

punjab Updated: Aug 26, 2013 09:34 IST
Rajendra S Balhara
Rajendra S Balhara
Hindustan Times
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Memories of good old days never leave us. William Wordsworth, the English poet, experienced the same emotion when he wrote: "For oft when on my couch I lie/in vacant or in pensive mood/they flash on that inward eye/which is the bliss of solitude/and then my heart with pleasure fills/and dances with the daffodils."

I had just joined a rural college as a lecturer in English. At that time, there was only one university in the entire Punjab. After Partition, it was shifted from Lahore to Hoshiarpur temporarily before moving to City Beautiful. There was an annual examination system and the concept of flying squads was still premature. Jagjit Singh, the registrar of the university, used to pay a flying visit to some examination centres.

Once I was deployed as a deputy superintendent in a rural examination centre when the college chowkidar came running and informed me about the arrival of the registrar at the main gate. All invigilators became alert. Soon a Sikh gentleman appeared in the corridor and started peeping into every room. After some anxious moments, we came to know that he was not the registrar but a similar-looking man who had come to have a look at his would-be son-in-law.

During our free time, we used to evaluate answer-books in the staff room. The canteen boy served us tea at regular intervals. I was evaluating the answer sheets of the first-year students, who were better known as the first-year fools in those days. A student, while attempting a letter, wrote a funny opening sentence: "Dear Kalu, I am in the well and I hope you must be in the well."

The next attempt was even funnier. Instead of the usual topic 'My Best Friend', students were asked to write around 150 words on the topic 'My Father'. One student wrote: "I have many fathers, but Ram Lal is my best father."

A lecturer in Punjabi showed us an equally funny attempt at answering a question one day. The examiner had asked: "Ba bare tusi ki jaande ho?" (What do you know about Ba?). A student wrote, "Ba da koi rang nahin hunda. Jaddon eh chaldi hai, patte hilan lag jaande han." (The air does not have any colour. When it blows, the leaves flutter.) The poor soul had no clue the question pertained to Mahatma Gandhi's wife Kasturba, popularly known as Ba.