A couple of months after we entered Royal in 1956, Bobby Edwards , the Head Master lower school retired and Cowpox Abeysinghe succeeded him. Cowpox turned out to be even more dexterous with the cane than old Bob Ed, as the exercise books that padded our bottoms did not protect us from the wild swings with the cane or as the saying goes “ six of the best”.
T.M. “ Penda” Weerasinghe soon followed Bob Ed into retirement and so did the legendary
Cameron “ Baapa” Samerasinghe, the cigar chomping Vice Principal. F.B.Crozier was the Cricket Captain and the tall lanky Jothilingam was the Vice Captain, who scored a superb 121 runs. It was in this match that Ronnie Reid of STC scored 158 not out to surpass Norman Siebel’s score of 151 not out. Unfortunately Jothilingam was down with fever or else he would have had a higher score.
We were excited to join the Royal procession that started at 7.00 am on Friday to pay a courtesy call to all the girls schools that surrounded us. The procession started off from Reid Avenue and wound its way to Visakha Vidyalaya, then, on to Galle Rd towards Holy Family Convent and before saluting the girls at Methodist College there was an unofficial “pit stop” at Crème House, so that the boys could run across for refreshments at the Arrack tavern on the opposite side of the street.
After this brief interruption the procession trudged its way to Methodist , then to Bishops , Ladies , Buddhist Ladies finally St. Bridgets and then back to ROYAL.
I am not sure if it was in 1957 or 58 that Ladies was boycotted, after the incident the late Aru S had with the Ladies College Principal. Aru plucked the roses from the Ladies Principal’s prized
rose beds , walked into her class and carried her and presented her with the
bouquet of roses from her own garden. She in turn called the Cinnamon gardens cops and that incident resulted in ladies being boycotted . Also that led to the Ladies Principal giving a holiday on the RoyalThomian Friday.
School closed at 10.20 am , as the match in those days started at 12 noon Friday. By the time the procession of old crocks got to the oval it was around 2.30 pm.
In those days there were no terrorist attacks or parcel bombs. However, C.J.Orloff , the Trinity Principal did send a “Parcel Bomb” to the Royal Principal , Dudley de Silva, which blew up in the Royal Prefects Room. Immediately, after the Bradby in Kandy , Orloff collected all the cigarette butts and beer bottle caps that were in the Royal teams room and mailed it to Dudley, who de-badged all the cops in the Royal team. Luckily there was no Sunday Leader in those times to publish this incident like the coverage given recently to the Thomian prefects ragging fiasco.
After the Orloff incident Kadalai created the one man “Homeland Security” regiment at Royal. Kadalai ensured that no more parcel bombs were sent to Royal. Kadalai inspected the rooms that the Royal teams stayed in to make sure that that were no butts or bottle caps left behind.
In the 3rd form, Umesha S used to bring stink bombs, which we exploded in Cock Mune’s Sinhala language class. Cock Mune enters class with his hanky covering his nose, he does’nt sit, the stench is overbearing “lamai Rawhini potha kiyawanne” and he leaves. (Rawhini that’s how he pronounced Rohini).
Phase 1 is a success, now for phase 2. The lower school classrooms had two doorways, one at the front and the other at the rear .We enter the Tamil class from the rear entrance once good old “Mudguard”, Mr. Sethukavalar, turns towards the blackboard and as he does so, around 25 of us jump into his class. He turns to face the class, but does not realize that the class has almost doubled, we are cramped 2 to a chair. He turns again towards the blackboard and there is an uproar, “Ado Mudguard”. “Ado Mudguard”, about 60 boys screaming. He turns, and shocked, he shouts “Bloody fellows from where did you come” and he lines up the whole lot to be marched up to Cowpox Abeysinghe, the headmaster, for a caning. The boys march out and instead of turning left to go up the stairs to the headmaster’s office , turn right and march back into class from the rear doorway. This goes on and on till the bell rings, all the while screaming, “Ado Mudguard”. It was only the translation of his name into English?.
1959, fourth form boyswe were thrilled to join the Royal procession in our first old croc, organized by Boorah Welikala. Unfortunately, we were arrested at Galle Face after the match and detained for about 2 hours at the Fort Police Station. The following year too, the cops stopped us at Borella junction. One of the guys , went over too see which station the cops were from and he comes back “Machan , they are from the Ceylon Police”. In his drunken state he only saw the Ceylon Police Silver Badge on the cops shoulder . To this day he denies this.
1960, Lower Five how unfortunate, Arasa is our form master and we are in Room no:10, next to the main staff room and opposite the VP’s office. The holier twin (though at that time he was not that holy), Tissa , Shaw , Potte Jansz , Chandi W, Kobbe U, N.G.Pati , the late Umesha, and Hari, were some of the guys in this class. Arasa never gave a free period. The day before the RoyalThomian we were warned not to enter class without our books. And so on the match day we had to attend Arasa’s math class from 8.45 to 10.20. What a rag that was. In order to break the boredom in Arasa’s class Chandi once organized one of his pals to call Arasa and blast him in raw filth. We had Arasa for 2 periods in the afternoon too and so when we heard the phone ringing in the staff room we knew it was the long awaited call. A staff member came over to our class and informed Arasa that there was a call for him. It didn’t take him long to get back straight to the blackboard and carry on from where he was stopped. Suddenly without a warning he threw the duster right at Chandi, and before long Shaw, The Archdeacon, Potte, Kobbe, Umesha and I got kaneyed. To this day we do not know how he realized that we were the ones behind the call. He must have some sixth sense intuition?
Meanwhile , our batch mates in the other classes had John Hill a Trinity Lion as their Statics and Dynamics teacher. John Hill bellowed if in trouble apply 4MDL/D squared minus L squared the WHOLE thing squared. And so after the term exam when John Hill asked them why they wrote this formula as the answer to all the questions they screamed back, “ Sir you said to apply the formula if in trouble, so we applied the formula, coz we were in trouble”.
A couple of years back (44 years later) , I had my 4MDL moment, which we never had with Arasa. Dr.K……. called me one evening, “ ado how good are you in maths?”. I could’nt tell him I was clueless. I said “good you bu…..her, why”. And so he told me he was trying to solve a problem for his daughter and he was stuck, so I offered to help. I made him repeat the problem about 5 to 6 times , but I wasn’t listening , I kept him on the phone for about 15 minutes repeating the question and then I kept silent, this made him impatient and he snaps, “ado what the f….k are you doing “, so I replied “ wait u b…..her, I am solving the problem”, and finally I said “ado simple no machan, take a pen and paper and write down the answer”, and so he was scrambling for paper and pen and when he was ready , I said “ 4MDL/D squared minus L squared the WHOLLE thing squared”. I could hear him saying “ F…… off”, before he cut the line.
A dear friend in the 4th form was in K.C. “ Kusaya” Fernando’s Buddhism class , in 1960. Kusaya was talking about Sakra Deiyyo while our good friend was ogling at the pics in the Playboy Magazine. Kusaya knew that he was otherwise occupied and so asked him, “Wi…………..he, Sakra Deiyyo kohomada aawey” . Poor guy got up fidgeting a bit and answered, “ Sir, Bus eke
Aawa”. And so he was christened “Sakra Deiyyo”. Sakraya , later on captained the Rugby team who won the Bradby for us.
The facilities fees levied by the school at that time was Rs. 4/- and Arasa used to always remind us in his own way to pay up. He used to say “Yeh man , you monkeys sell your mothers in the market place and bring the money”. Foenander in the batch before us, was the last to pay up. That was because he was collecting 400 one cent coins to pay the fees. Finally when he got the coins , he brought it in a Bothal Karaya’s malla and triumphantly walked over to Arasa to hand him the fees. Arasa took the malla and flung it and the 400 coins went flying across the classroom.
Jothi Godage, was the Sergeant of the Senior Cadets. The cadets have drill on Mondays , (the last period), while the rest have PT in the college grounds. Jothi used to march the squads to the St. Bridgets Convent back gate, where we stand at attention. As the girls come rushing out , when SBC is over, the sergeant commands us to salute. The girls are saluted and we march back to college.
The following Monday the squad is marched to Ladies College, front gate, for the customary salute from the Royal College Senior Cadet Corp. This went on for some time, with marches to SBC one week and Ladies the following week. Dudley finally got wind of it, and we were not allowed to march out of the Boake Gates.
Talking of marches, I am reminded of the late Lohicca S. It was in either 1964 or 65, that the Aswa Vidyalaya was formed. The race course was converted to the Arts Faculty and till such time the premises were ready for lectures, the arts students, all freshmen, used to assemble at the College Hall, after 4.00pm. Lohicca, used to drop in around this time, pretending to be a senior undergrad and get all these innocent fresher undergrads out and give them drill practice. He used to line them up and march them up and down from the Flower Road roundabout to the Reid Avenue round about. This went on regularly until one fine day Dudley when driving by recognized Lohicca, and stopped the car called him over asked him what he was doing as he was not the Sergeant, in fact, not even a Cadet. Then Dudley realized that the boys were not students of Royal but the new undergrads of the Asva Vidyalaya. That was the end of Lohicca ‘s ragging.
To go back 55 years in time, to the 1st form , we yearn, To relive those great days and of books and men to learn, Knowing that it is impossible to go back to the past,
To those treasured memories, we hold steadfast.
Bawa (Reza Ashroff)