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The English Teacher
Jimmy Noronha
(Jimmy Noronha originally from Belloor, Bantwal has extensively travelled abroad and is now settled at Lucknow. In this article he narrates his childhood experience on learning English).

May 21, 2012

I failed in Class one when I was six, and again at 14 in Class 8th! Now that sort of aberration should keep me far behind the achievements of many a “Daiji” of mine in this world – I suppose? Ironically, however,   am proud of this, for I always preferred to listen to what my father had to teach at our shop to what Eugine teacher with sticks and bursts at school.  Those were the days when one was more concerned with the farm, fields and petty shops than about studies. It was the time of Aden and Persia, Dubai was far off from germinating.

We had a shop in the village and it was dearer to me than my school. Father too was happy if I was close at hand, for he was a large hearted man and would prod me on to help for all the delicacies in our shop. “You are a growing boy, eat well”, he would say, and I never failed to please him or rather please us.  Moreover he had an alert pupil in me and he loved to teach me English of his own, and we blended well as teacher and an earnest pupil. 

Every week he would take me to Hampankatta and Bunder, even on week days, much to the chagrin of Eugine teacher but I liked that? He would walk briskly there, answering countless salutes all the way and I was his little lamb that went wherever my father would be on a rendezvous.

The moment we touched Hampankatta, he would make for Taj Hotel and my tiny steps would get electrified and lead him to a cozy corner to feast over the dishes he would order. “Eat son, you are a growing boy, eat well,” he would croon, and I would at once respond positively to this music. If I said “I like “wada sambaar” he would at once order two plates for each of us and we both would gormandize over it, and all the while he would say, “It is very nourishing, why don’t you help yourself for another plate? After all you are a growing boy.” And do you think I would ever let this offer go to waste? No, Never.  Not that I loved my father any less for all this feeding, but more because he had an uncanny gift of imparting knowledge of his own English to almost all the customers trouping into our shop from far flung areas. This teaching would stand way ahead of all that I learned from Eugine Teacher. Corporal punishment was having a feast day then,
and I feasted on it quite liberally too.

 I do not know how much my father studied, but I know that he had gone to St. Aloysius College and could speak some smattering English and I was proud of that: a scholar in the village!

He would happily reveal about the mystery of the English language. He never cared if his listeners would understand him or not but it gave him immense pleasure to propagate his knowledge. He would say, “Accept, accept, accept” and then give a hearty laugh, and begin to spell out, “accept, except, expect” and narrate the meaning to his ‘class’ of customers and they all would wonder as to how this little head of his could contain so much of wisdom as he went on explaining the different meaning of each word that sounded the same. They would gleefully look at each other and I would always be an active listener in this jolly good game of his. Every “class” of his would end with a hearty laughter by the “teacher” and the “taught” and I was invariably an active participant in this laughter, very often  little knowing what  I was laughing for?

He would exhort upon me the virtues of knowing English and advise me to be an English teacher in the village and teach that language. Looking back now, I feel it wasn’t a bad idea at all. As I grew up I could not get over what my father took most delight in
saying: “I am blessed with five children” was his  quotable quote to all those Government officials who would come and camp in the spacious room in our shop. That was in 1947 when I had a run of four sisters after me. I could feel that echo of his voice even now - “I am blessed with five children”- and his blessings went on multiplying up, until 1960 by which time  he was blessed with eleven children when my late singer brother Ivan was born,  and he would proclaim to one and all of this God’s bounty showered upon him. Little did he know then that he was virtually blessed into poverty!

He would often advise me to learn at least four words in English each day, and I would never fail to please him by doing what made him happy. (This suggestion of his, I liked the most and I imparted it to my children too that has worked wonders, and the readers might as well take a note of this.).

I read quite a few papers, magazines and even books. My father would happily watch me reading, and remained quite contented. I realized that I had gone wrong while making use of the following words and learned how to use them better. Loose – the nut is loose and it needs tightening. Whereas, Lose – I do not want to lose my friendship with Wilma, the pretty daughter of our Gurkaraam.

There – I will never go there again, for it is Wilma’s house and my father has forbidden me to go there! Their – It is their fault and not my father’s and why should they blame my dad? Choose and chose were one and the same to me earlier, and then realized that “chose” was the past tense.

I used to wonder what the difference was there between words such as meter and metre, and center and centre. Later on I realized while the former word is spelled in American English the latter is spelled in U.K. English.

Soon I learned “yours faithfully” and not “your’s faithfully” is the right way to end a letter.  Thereon it was now clear to me the difference between, it’s and its’. It’s means “it is” and “its’” means something that belongs to it.

So, slowly and steadily what my father nurtured in me began to bear fruit and the love that I bore for him began to reflect in what he loved to teach and I continued to carry on his legacy to my heart’s delight as it always kept him closer to my heart.

Subsequently I found that “I use to write “is wrong and the correct usage is “I used to”. Finally, I must admit that it took an inordinate time to master the difference between ‘present continuous’ and ‘present perfect continuous’. Thanks to my father’s teaching and preaching, the love that I bore for him surely went to reflect in my penchant to learn quite a bit of English and I found that I could also learn  prepositions easily.

Even after my studies, I preferred to be with my father and help run his business but he would have nothing of it. This brought about a lot of pain to me and we both started drifting apart and the years passed by. He remained in the village and I went on moving from place to place like a vagabond but carried on his heart’s delight: the love for English language.

Now that my father is no more, I feel the only way I can remain grateful to him and continue his legacy is to do what he loved the best – learn and help others learn. Whenever I visit Mangalore, my wife and I go and clean his grave, and light a bundle of the choicest candles and spread a whole lot of his favourite jasmine flowers on his grave and pray that his soul may rest in everlasting peace in heaven.

Jimmy Noronha - Archives:

Comments on this article
Sabith, Kasaragod-Saudi ArabiaSaturday, June 01, 2013
I have been reading Mr. Jimmy Noronha's articles for the past few months and I liked the article "Is there a life after gulf" a lot. I never found any new articles after this latest one and wanted to contact Mr. Noronha. You seem related to him and would love it if you may help me here.

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DAPSY VAZ, PANGLA, UDUPISunday, January 06, 2013
Uncle Jimmy, just loved & loved your article & childhood story, the relation between you & your dad... MOREOVER your Immense speech in English has quenched my thirst.. Wish you would be my family member or friend or one among the person who I converse with..
Please do keep writing in DAIJI.. I have been a big fan of you Uncle... HAT'S OFF to you..
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Irene Nazareth, kinnigoli/mazagaonThursday, June 21, 2012
Very inspiring article. Simple, at the same time an eye-opener. Those days people normally had large families. You grow together more like friends. Even as children our demands were less and we were happy with whatever meager we had.
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Lancy Noronha, Bellore-Bendur-DubaiThursday, May 31, 2012
Nice article my dear uncle. We miss those golden days at Bellore. Beautiful story uncle.

Lancy, Shyna, Lanita & Lanisha
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Vincie Rodrigues, Thottam / CanadaSunday, May 27, 2012
The expression of one's experience in the very formative years and later as an adult, is a great sharing of his saga of learning as promoted by his model teacher - his father!! Language is a tool to communicate information, questions and feelings. Propagate the good job by writing more about it so we learn to differentiate the difference between different words at different places in a sentence
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Dr.Anand and Geeta N Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreWednesday, May 23, 2012
We especially liked the Authors advice of requesting people to learn 4 new words each day and exchange the same with friends.
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Tony Crasta, Mangalore/SydneyWednesday, May 23, 2012
Yes, in those years too much emphasis was put on the children by parents/teachers on the learning and usage of correct English, but in modern times, with the availability of computer, the various soft wares therein do the task of pointing out the grammar and spelling mistakes, etc. Also, in those years, there used to be a lot of homework and regular tests in the classroom on spellings, grammar, use of phrases and building up sentences, but I am not sure it is the same case now.

By the way, we Indians tend to have a fancy for English language and give lot of importance when it comes especially to writing, but go to the western world like Australia, UK, USA, Canada and Europe, half of the students who pass out their High School, cannot form a proper sentence, leave alone their pathetic spellings and the grammar, even though they study right through the English medium. They can speak good English though and they are good at things like reading maps, solving problems and conceptualization. Moreover, as the students in present times mainly depend upon the computers for their studies and various project work, from where they can access all sorts of information and data/knowledge, the role of Teachers and parents is diminished. Also, since they use the key board for their writing, the role of hand writing has virtually disappeared and sometimes they cannot even read their own handwriting! The famous Tulu saying "ANNE BARETTINA ANNENE VODODU" will not hold good in their case.
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Susan, Jeppu, KuwaitTuesday, May 22, 2012
A very interesting article indeed. The concept is very unique, what makes it even more interesting is the fact that it is true!!
@ Mr. Rudy D'souza : Please re-read your sentence. What you mean is this:
Grammatically, people who studied in Kannada medium are superior in the English Language than those that studied in English Medium.

So you see, with the above - i just proved that not all Kannada medium students speak grammatically correct English. I also proved that English medium students (in more cases than not) are superior in English than their Kannada Medium counterparts.
Thank-you God Bless.

Jimmy- wonderful article ...keep writing.
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Sushma, Mangalore/chennaiTuesday, May 22, 2012
Now we know the secret behind this Author for the Daiji World and what makes him write so many nice articles!!!
Today children find it very difficult to write an essay in school and very often topics are given to the students before the exams to prepare on.Because otherwise they cannot write

This author has the knack of taking a simple subject or anecdote and spinning a wonderful story around it.
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rizwan, Mangalore/DubaiTuesday, May 22, 2012
Really touching .. Tears rolled down my eyes remembering my beloved father who is no more.
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Sonia Bajpai, BhopalTuesday, May 22, 2012

As an English teacher myself I see how necessary it is for children to be ingrained in the language and many a time children have to really struggle to speak even one sentence correctly.Your article Mr. Noronha truly touched me and I really wish that all parents emulate your father and bring about a love for language in their children be it any language .

Your portrayal of the village life of yore brings about a sense of nostalgia in these times when most children are glued to the television or are obsessed with the frenzy of technology.Your letter comes as a breath of fresh air....how very refreshing.We await more such wonderful articles from you as they mirror your simplicity and good upbringing!Your children are really lucky!All the best !

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Sonia Bajpai, BhopalTuesday, May 22, 2012
As an English teacher myself I see how necessary it is for children to be ingrained in the language and many a time children have to really struggle to speak even one sentence correctly.Your article Mr. Noronha truly touched me and I really wish that all parents emulate your father and bring about a love for language in their children be it any language .Your portrayal of the village life of yore brings about a sense of nostalgia in these times when most children are glued to the television or are obsessed with the frenzy of technology.Your letter comes as a breath of fresh air....how very refreshing.We await more such wonderful articles from you as they mirror your simplicity and good upbringing!Your children are really lucky!All the best !
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Daniel D'Sa, Ntte / Abu DhabiMonday, May 21, 2012
Dear Jimbab, it is very natural for any one getting teary eyed while reading such nice and actual real story of yours of those days when you were so young. The way your dear father sow the seeds in your young mind during those days are the cause for this reaping the fruits we the readers through your good efforts. Your writings are very simple, very clean, easy to understand, and very likeable. Hats off to you and your dear Dad. May his soul rest in eternal peace and may God bless you, a gifted writer.
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Sanjay Noronha, Cape TownMonday, May 21, 2012
One big advantage Indians abroad have over other nationalities is the fact that we have a good command over the English Language.

And the credit for this goes to people like Mr. Noronha.

As a child I remember my father used to get up early to listen to BBC news on the radio.
He also made it a point to read the Time, Newsweek and Frontline.

Good habits like this cascade to the next generation.
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geoffrey, hat hillMonday, May 21, 2012
In this context I would like to bring to daiji readers’ notice an often wrongly used phrase ‘Hats off” . The correct version is ‘My hat is off to you’ which can also be used as ‘Hat’s off to you’. There are many incorrect versions such as ‘Hats off’ , ‘Hats up’ to name a couple.
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Leedia, Sharjah/ShirvaMonday, May 21, 2012
Extremely well written... those who studied in Kannada medium would surely feel the deeper meaning of this article -hats off to you sir!!
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Molly Munro, DubaiMonday, May 21, 2012
Your article got me teary eyed, and this time hats off to your Dad Mr. Jimmy, it is he who sow the seeds to germinate that love for English language in you, and we readers are reaping the fruits of your Dad’s efforts. May his soul rest in peace and may God bless your humble beginning and surpassing all that to be a gifted writer.
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Rudy D' Souza & Family Kuwait, Omzoor/KuwaitMonday, May 21, 2012
Congratulations Jimmy. Its an eye opener wonderful article. In Olden days those who studied in Kannada medium understand your concept clearly through this article. The article is very interesting and worth reading. More over grammatically people who studied in Kannada medium are better than English in english language, where it's proved in your article.Good luck.
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Atanu Sen, Moodbidri/HooghlyMonday, May 21, 2012
There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? One index, two indices? Is cheese the plural of choose? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on driveways and drive on parkways? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another? When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out and an alarm clock goes off by going on. When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?

Now I know why I flunked my English. It's not my fault the silly language doesn't quite know whether it's coming or going.
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JANETTE, BELLOREMonday, May 21, 2012
Jimmy dhattu its nice to read your column becoz there is no artificial flavour in it ... since I belong to bellore i studied the same school where u studied and i remember that i have seen you but diffinetely your brothers franky and yr father .... i'm a big fan of your brother Ivan. Foremost i like abt your writing is the real experience you've gone thru and seen in your life that's y your writing makes so interesting and true and most important thing u remember all these things may god bless u where ever you r and keep the gud. work
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vincy, bangkokMonday, May 21, 2012
Beautiful story and it is really fun to read revelations.
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