Reminiscences of Jaffna Hindu College Days

When I heard about the celebrations my thoughts went back some thirty years. I remembered the two- storied building adjoining the K.K.S. Road. Its massive walls and mighty staircases. Of course I remember it was built in 1890. I had seen the figure on the building. This building is symbolic of Jaffna Hindu College, I thought, Strong, well respected, traditional and full of character. This is Jaffna Hindu.

Jaffna Hindu College is perhaps the best example of the immense contribution to education by the local community leaders in Jaffna over 100 years ago. Unlike the missionary schools, which received support from foreign religious bodies, Jaffna Hindu College is a pure product of our forefathers.

I remember Mr.Asaipillai, our principal, who retired a year before I left school. Well, those of us who had known him will remember that we were very familiar with three-piece suits well before we arrived in the U.K. We also knew that a well worn silk tie will leave the neck through the crisp starched collar in a horizontal direction before it gets tucked into the waist coat. And the French Eau de Toilette, of course. He was a true British gentleman. To us those days with our Jaffna background these may have appeared rather strange. And Mr.C.Sabaratnam, the Vice Principal who subsequently became Principal. I used to think that his dhoby lived next door to his house because he had a daily change of verti (dhoti), national shirt and saalvai, each impeccably clean, starched and pressed. I remember he knew all the text books by heart. Statics, Dynamics and Hydrostatics by S.L.Loney his favourite. He can walk to the blackboard and write out the solution for the problem no 5 in chapter 7 without reading the question.
Memories also come back about other teachers. I only remember many of them by the names which we used rather than their real names. No ill respect at all, of course. There are many interesting and good humored anecdotes and incidents which come to mind. Kaddayar, Samy, Susiam, KVM, Suppar, Theyagar, all have our respect and admiration, I was also fortunate to have shared the staff room with them and others four years after I had left the school, when I joined as a teacher. Though this was only for a brief period of one year, my attachment to the school was strengthened.

Life at school had been fill of incidents, excitements, trials and tribulations. School life is not complete without involvement in sports. Those who do not take part will be supporters, commentators, strategists or analysts. I was fortunate to have played in our ‘FA. Cup Final’, the JSSA 2nd XI (under 17) championship, and won. My only regret is that I could not play in the ‘World Cup Team’ (1st XI) as I had to go on to University. I remember the strong tradition of football supremacy of Jaffna Hindu during those years.
A good school is not one which produces only good examination results. In addition to good academic training there should be opportunities for students in character development and involvement in useful extra-curricular activities. Even with the limited resources JHC has long been recognised as a very good school and we are proud to be associated with it.
I hope that after recent turbulent years the school will continue to build on the tradition it had created. The centenary celebrations this year provide the opportunity for us to meet our old friends and contemporaries. We will remember the good old days at school and contribute towards the welfare and development of the school.

The organisers of the Centenary celebrations deserve all the praise. You have sowed the seeds for the development of our school into the second 100 years.

R. Ganesalingam BSc(Cey), BSc(London), Ceng, MICE
Senior Lecturer, School of Civil and Structural Engineering, Nanyang Technological Institute Singapore
Centenary Celebration Souvenir, 1990