Red Chillies

Sir G V Herle

Short Story by: Stan Ageira, Mulki  

March 12, 2013 

        
Some people appear from nowhere like fresh breath of air and leave deep-rooted indelible impression in our lives. This story is picked from similar life changing incidents.
 
I was born in 1961 at Mulki a small town, close to Mangalore in India’s southern Karnataka. As a child, I was pushed hard towards discipline, education and religion. My father was serving for Indian Air force and mother was homemaker. Family, Neighbors, Church and Bethany convent school were sectors of my upbringing. I stood closely attached to discipline, schoolwork and devout ways until I passed grade 7. During those days, the admission to boys in Mulki Bethany convent school was restricted beyond grade seven. Thereafter they were asked to shift to a boy’s school.
 
The options were limited. The nearest and convenient was Mulki Government Junior college. The year was 1973. I relished my admission to grade eight in government school. The atmosphere had flavor of liberation. The freedom without wisdom could be perilous. I was untimely exposed. That resulted in utter negligence of discipline, schoolwork and spirituality. Back answering and disrespect towards elders became a routine. I bunked classes, watched movies and played cricket.  I was labeled one among wayward, errant and badly behaved kids. Our Parish Priest found me so unbearable; he dismissed me from altar boys sodality.
 
Within a couple of months, the woman Principal of our school left on retirement. A fair and handsome new Principal emerged who looked different from others. Sir G V Herle was courteous, elegant and sophisticated with urbane features. He carried an aura of modesty and restraint around him. His graceful face radiated his inner self and concealed self-confidence. He was unmistakably pleasant the way he carried himself.
 
I gave little importance to his persona during that point of time. Academic and extracurricular achievers are bound to be noticed. I was not in such category. I went blatantly floating in my undisciplined reckless manners.
 
However, destiny had its own script…
 
When my performance in schoolwork aberrantly slumped, my mother was panic-stricken. She visited my school in anguish on a fact-finding mission. I was not aware that she would drop in that afternoon. Office attendant appeared at our classroom door with Principal’s note. The tutor instructed me to show up at Principal’s office. While walking out my heart thumped and missed a beat with unknown fear. That was my first face-to-face encounter with G V Herle. Our class teacher too was present with my Mom.
 
I put my head down waiting for onslaught. Class teacher initiated assault with series of allegations ranging from nonattendance, disrespect, distraction and impudent mischiefs. My Mom advised Principal and class teacher to treat me with rigorous control. Principal pacified Mom with an assurance to keep a watch on me. To my surprise, he showed no contempt.
 
“I have seen your final exam marks of grade 7.” He soothingly smiled. “You have the competence to excel. I am sure you can do a lot better.”
 
I seriously thought of avoiding him in due course as his virtuousness spawned some kind of discomfort within me. Nonetheless, my fate had a different tale. Within next one week, my case was reported to Principal by our science teacher. She charged me for disruptiveness, talkativeness and disobedience. The directive came from Principal’s office to meet him.
 
I nervously stood close to his table and looked down. Transitorily, I lost balance and leaned over his table. He did not like anyone leaning on to his table. I realized this after next couple of meetings.
 
“Timothy, how are you?” He spoke freely. “Would you please stop leaning on to my table?”
 
“…….” I was expecting him to explode in fury.
 
G V Herle was first and last one as on date preferred to call me by second name. The middle name was given for being born on St. Timothy’s birthdate. I had strong aversion towards my second name, as one of my maternal Uncle Timothy was wrongly popular for his excessive drinking and vagabond lifestyle. However, whenever G V Herle called me ‘Timothy’ in his stylish accent it sounded pleasant and affable.
 
“I want you understand.” He graciously explained. “A teacher in classroom or a speaker on dais, both dislike interruption from audience. They lose focus and intensity if disturbed while on full flow. The right to talk is your fundamental right. Nevertheless, that should not cause distraction in class. I like talkative students. Whenever you feel like talking, you are welcome to come here and talk to me. Let’s talk.”
 
I lacked the ability to understand him. That moment of time, I wanted to escape from the scene. An apology was extended before I could walk out. My attempts to stay away from him turned futile in course of time. I always found him nearer and closer.
 
One afternoon I was tiresomely bored after a Hindi class. Provoked by instinct, I thought of bunking off the last period. In an act of impetus, I gathered my books and jumped out of window. While standing on my feet from the place I landed, I lifted my chin, looked up, and beheld, G V Herle was standing right in front of my eyes.  I was left thunderstruck.
 
In an earlier instance, our physical trainer had whacked me hard at my jaw for leaping across the window. In anticipation of Principal’s slap and the pain to follow, I closed my eyes. Nothing happened as such. He casually stroked my shoulder and gestured to follow him. He stopped at classroom entry door.
 
“Do you find any defect in this entrance?” Principal beamingly asked. “What’s the idea in awkwardly falling out from window, when you have flawless exit point?”
 
“……..” I put my chin down.
 
“One more point.” He smilingly clarified. “If at all you want to check out before school closing hours, you can always approach me with a valid reason.”
 
“Sorry Sir.” I had no other words.
 
At times, we travelled 30 km to Mangalore from my hometown to see newly released movies.  We had half-day classes on Saturdays. One Saturday, I planned a movie program without consent of my parents. In a crowded bus, I was about to embrace a pole, someone called me ‘Timothy’. I nervously looked back only to see G V Herle standing beside me. Angst-ridden, I stood and waited for his next possible query, if travelling on Parent’s permission. I did not have nerve to tell lies to G V Herle. Nevertheless, he did not probe. On the contrary, he made me comfortable by interacting on simple topics of my interest.
 
He lived with his family at Karnad Darga road, not very far from Mulki Catholic Church. My school friend Girish’s residence was on same road. Principal would gladly call and speak for a while if caught while striding across the road. He identified me by name every time if seen on way to school, at playground or at corridor. Sometimes the recognition fostered my feelings of pride especially in a group. I began admiring him deferentially. That threw me in some kind of delusion. I certainly believed that he could be watching me from anywhere and everywhere. The extent and pattern of my naughtiness showed astonishing decline in a gradual process.
 
Our Mathematics teacher was transferred during our early days in grade ten. Principal took the initiative of teaching us Mathematics until the reporting of new teacher. G V Herle’s method of teaching was creatively excellent and loved by all students. He had a distinctive style of burping. His cheeks would inflate like balloon before releasing the forced up air. This generally happened during class after lunch hours.
 
The pleasure of learning from Principal ended after couple of months as newly arrived teacher took over. Expectedly students had a tough time in absorbing the coaching style of new teacher. Leaders of different factions of our class called for a meeting. I was not into classroom politics, yet they invited me due to my good offices with Principal. Unanimous decision was taken during meeting to request Principal to continue teaching us Mathematics in place of new teacher. They gave me the task of meeting Principal and explaining the cause of our plea. I was pumped up.
 
I mustered up the courage, entered Principal’s office and wished him. Standing upright, I maintained apt distance to avoid leaning onto his table.
 
“Hello Timothy. How can I help you?”  G V Herle stopped his work and raised his eyebrows.
 
“Sir….” My throat turned dry as briefly I forgot well-prepared narrative.
 
“Any problem?” He was concerned.
 
“I am here on behalf of my class.” I was gasping for breath.
 
“Relax… Take a deep breath.” He advised.
 
“……….” I repeated the deep breathing exercise for couple of times.
 
“Don’t get tensed. Take it easy.” He said.
 
“Sir, we are unable to grasp the teaching of new mathematics teacher. He is awful.” I blabbered disorderly. “You have been instructed by our class students to continue teaching Mathematics by replacing new teacher.”
 
“What do you mean by instructed?” Wrinkles appeared on his forehead.
 
“Sorry Sir… It’s request.” Embarrassingly I rectified.
 
“He is just new.” He solicitously explained. “Being Principal of school I have enough of assignments and responsibilities to accomplish. The new teacher is employed for this task. Who will perform my activities if I do his job? As I said, he is new. Before judging, he should be allowed to get accustomed. I am sure you will steadily find it easy in understanding his teaching methods.”
 
I nodded and turned to my right to leave.
 
“Timothy, listen to me.” He advised. “Talking ill about others behind their back is not good.”
 
I always managed to pass final examinations by striving hard during revision holidays. My three years of playful high school life under Sir G V Herle’s watchful eyes ended. I met him for the last time in 1976 while pacing in front his house after passing grade 10. He caringly spoke in length, probed my subjects of interest and recommended to take up some hobbies for personality development. That was our last meeting and then I was 15 years old. Within next few weeks we heard, he was transferred from Mulki. I showed no gratitude of meeting him.
 
As I joined Pre-university, I experienced profound and overwhelming change in my behavior. Mischievous side had faded away. Calmness and composure had shaped into condition. The inner transmutation exuded smile of self-belief. With rediscovered focus on education, I was back into discipline, obedience and devout ways. I attended classes regularly, stretched my range into literature, oratory skills, theatre, and represented college cricket team. Before graduating in 1981, I became friends with many of our college lecturers.
 
During introspection, I realized the contrast variance of my high school mindset and attitude of college days. G V Herle had rubbed off at least some of his qualities unto me. Unknowingly I must have had captured few of his attributes. I strongly felt so. That was not all. I had even modeled my manner of burping, similar to G V Herle’s style. My cheeks too expanded before releasing forced up air from mouth. Consequently, a visit was made to Government Junior College to trace his address. That was my first letter to G V Herle. I thanked him for coming into my life during my delicate years and inspiring me to be a better person. I was thrilled to receive his reply. He modestly refused in acknowledging his role in my revival, wished me to do well in life and asked me to be in regular touch. He was then promoted as deputy director of public instruction.
 
In 1981, I left my hometown to pursue my masters. Thereafter while working in Mumbai, we remained in touch by exchanging letters. His last posting was at Bangalore as joint director of public instruction. Subsequently he retired and settled at Kota, a town close to Udupi-Kundapur in Southern Karnataka. In one instance, he delightedly appreciated my creative efforts in his letter after reading my short story in Kannada monthly ‘Mayura.' During the course, I sensed the rising attachment and promised that I would visit Kota to meet him.
 
I made a promise and failed miserably in bringing it to fruition!
 
The visit to Kota never materialized. It was completely unjustified and unpardonable on my part to go disconnected from him in 1990s. The next sequence of incidents of my life, such as marriage, progenies and relocation to Dubai were kept completely in dark from him. In a gross error of negligence, G V Herle’s representation slipped out from my memory compartment. My career in Dubai prospered to moderate success that involved plenty of overseas travel. I was lost in discovery of my new life. Nonetheless, this story was far from over.
 
The destiny had a very different script…
 
The first signs of retrieval of G V Herle’s portrayal in my memory cell occurred sometime in January 2012. I ignored initial symptoms. Some casual attempts were made on internet to find email IDs of his children, without any success. All was well on my personal & professional front.
 
Yet, an unidentified energy acted against my laxity in January 2013. I felt an irrepressible craving to find and talk to G V Herle. Overpowered by sudden and strange desperation I decided to reach him. I sought help from some of my friends in writer’s fraternity. Sunil a Kota resident living in Dubai, Cyril and Vincent from Mangalore were communicated to trace G V Herle’s contact details by referring telephone directory or through any other way. They reverted with required information on later date. However, that moment of time, I was extremely distressed.
 
The urgency and anxiety seized my inner self. On 22 January 2013 I was utterly keyed up by inexplicable unfamiliar emotional distraught. In a frantic bid, I managed to find the telephone number of Kota post office through Google search. A woman picked the line as I dialed. I requested her to connect me to post master.
 
“I am calling from Dubai. I may need some help.” My voice shook uncontrollably. “I would like to get in touch with Mr. G V Herle a resident of Kota.  I am his old student. Could I have his contact telephone number please?”
 
“G V Herle?” Postmaster paused for a while. “I don’t have their number. I can find out within couple of days through Postman of their area… Sir, I am sorry to say, you are late by exactly one year. Today is G V Herle’s first death anniversary!”
 
The handset slipped out from my hand. Postmaster’s words moved thru my ears, then dwelled and soaked into my emotions. I could feel the sensation of heat and pain within. The scorching intensity shattered my hope into pieces. My eyes turned moist and tears rolled down. I did not know if I was mourning for his death or for my unfulfilled promise or for my ungratefulness or for neglected opportunities of meeting him. The prospect of reunion had died down. Driven by nostalgia, three years of my impish high school life under G V Herle’s wings flashed in front of my eyes. Everything was just like yesterday.
 
“Timothy...” I visualized the way he called and unconvincingly burped with uncertain expansion of cheeks, only to realize that I had been a very slavish copycat of Sir G V Herle’s matchless true self.


 


Comment on this article

  • Vishwanath Herle, Giliyar

    Wed, Jun 25 2014

    They are ever great.

    Agree [1]

  • Ronald Mascarenas, bendoor/dubai

    Thu, May 16 2013

    Hi stan, nice article, infact after reading I have to scroll one to two times to find the photo of Mr. Herle.
    Now you have nice comments from Mr. Harle family, and hope you can upload the picture also.

    Agree [1]

  • Ronald D'Souza, Mulky / Toronto

    Tue, Apr 9 2013

    Wonderful story. Teachers always play a special role in our life. We always think teachers are right. However great heights we may reach in our life we are still students in front teachers. 3 cheers to teachers! What a noble profession!!!

    Agree [1]

  • Abdul salam, Udupi / Dubai

    Sat, Mar 30 2013

    I have always been fond of your writing and this one is more or less a quick brush up of those good old school days for everyone, thanks for this short journey down memory lane.
    Keep up the good work

    Agree [1]

  • Giliyar Ullas, KOTA

    Sat, Mar 23 2013

    Dear Stan,
    It took a while to write comments. Very well thought and written about my father. It is a wonderful feeling to know that there are persons like you still remember the teachers and their efforts to guide the students in proper direction. The article brought back memories of my high school days during 1960s when I was also his student. Thanks, Keep in touch.
    Sincerely,

    Giliyar Ullas

    Agree [2]

  • Deena D'silva, Mulki

    Mon, Mar 18 2013

    Hi uncle,
    Good one, ensures effortless reading :)

    Agree [4]

  • pressy, kundapur,

    Sun, Mar 17 2013

    very nice article. when i read this story i remembered my school days

    Agree [1]

  • Vranda Aithal, Kota, USA

    Sun, Mar 17 2013

    Dear Stanley,you have written this article about my dear father so beautifully. I can not believe your love and respect for my father. Your sadness for not meeting him before his death is really heart breaking. Your tribute to our father is really thought provoking,rekindled all the memories and makes the entire family even more proud of him. I really feel that you are also a very kind and loving person who admire the good qualities in people. We definitely would like to meet you sometimes in the future which will make our father proud of us. Please keep in touch.

    Agree [3]

  • D. F. Lobo, Mangalore

    Sun, Mar 17 2013

    My salute to Stan`s great mentor, G. V. Herle Sir.

    Agree [1]

  • Lynette D'Souza, Dubai

    Sun, Mar 17 2013

    Very well written,Congratulations Stan! I always love to read your stories.

    Agree [1]

  • Sunil Fernandes, Kota

    Sat, Mar 16 2013

    Hi Stan, a very good article tribute to your loved teacher. Still I can remember the smily face of simple, humble GV Herle Sir. When we were small during summer holidays we used to sell the mangoes infront of our house, grown in our farm. He used come to buy the mangoes and used to talk to us softly & tenderly. He was a very soft & simple personality. There are lots of unsungs hero's like GV Herle sir. They are always remain in the hearts of people.

    Agree [1]

  • Arif Qadeer, Allahabad / Dubai

    Sat, Mar 16 2013

    Hi Stan,
    Very thought provoking story. Thanks for sharing it.

    Agree [1]

  • deepakdsouza, mulky/dubai

    Fri, Mar 15 2013

    NICE ARTICLE..This brings back memories of school days

    Agree [1]

  • RODRIX, USA

    Thu, Mar 14 2013

    Dear Stany Uncle,
    I browsed thru the story just a moment ago...I couldn't read it on the day of publication cuz some exigency cropped up in between...Despite my tight schedule i made sure that i would read it today at any cost...I do appreciate the way u've put forth ur thoughts in a very lucid manner...Believe me, i've been in touch with one of teachers back home for ages cuz she inspired me not only to excel in my academics but also to lead a modest life all thru...She feels on top of the world whenever i give her a ring n visit her durin my vacation...She's been my true n impeccable GURU...I used to spend my time with her either at her staff room or in the library whenever both of us were free...I'm always cherishin those sweet memories...I pray to God that her life may b filled with love, joy, laughter, prosperity, serenity, tranquility and what not!!!

    Agree [1]

  • Madhusudhan Mahale, Kumata

    Thu, Mar 14 2013

    Stan sir, awesome story , both content wise and beauty of presentation . i would like to thanks you for bringing out such a tangible aspect of life of not forgetting Gurus(teachers) , true i have a similar experience of meeting such few people who shaped up my life and made me what i am today . great article, i wish to read all of your work, as i love to read and write too. please accept my friendship so that i can have great learning from you .

    Agree [1]

  • RAJESH, MULKI

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    DEAR STAN
    YOU BROUGHT BACK THOSE WONDERFULL MEMORIES OF BOTH MADELEINE SCHOOL AND GOVT HIGH SCHOOL..MAN.. THIS TIME AROUND I AM GOING TO CHECK THOSE BENT WINDOW RODS..IF THEY ARE STILL HANGING OUT THERE .I REMEMBER THAT JUMP FROM THOSE 8 ,9 ,10 CLASSES WERE ATLEST 8 FEET HEIGHT FROM THE GROUND....

    Agree [1]

  • Dr. Edward Nazareth, Mangalore

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    Nice narration, heart touching...Congratulations Satny

    Agree [1]

  • Preethi,

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    Touching story with realities. Thank you for the beautiful writing. Sir, pls keep on writing such stories which make me addicted to keep on reading.
    As the last sentence came, I thought Oh God !! story is over.
    This is the BEST story/Article I have read in Daiji.
    I too have some of my mischievous memories of school life and my High School Principal Sister who always liked me.

    Let US always make some time to meet People . . .

    Agree [1]

  • Savio Almeida, Thottam/Dubai

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    Thanks Stany, it made wonderful reading, a very lucid style ,the formative years really make all the difference to one's character which is paramount as sucess & failure are subject to the vagaries of life, look forward to your stories in future, best regards

    Agree [1]

  • C K DAYANANDA, MANGALURU

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    While Mr.Stan Ageira is very fortunate to have such a great teacher, Shri G V Herle is blessed with such worthy students as Mr. Ageira.

    Shri Herle is from Kota in Kundapur taluk.

    Kota has produced great teachers like Sarva Shri K. Lakshminarayan Karanth [brother of famour writer Dr. Shivaram Karanth], K.Ramachandra Udupa, H. Sridhara Hande, H. Vishalakshi Hande, Padukere Mahabala Upadya and much more.

    I am proud to say that the present generation of my maternal family in Kota chose teaching as their profession and are fully dedicated to the cause of education.

    Let us salute such teachers and say 'Acharya Devo Bhava".

    Agree [1]

  • Antony D'Cunha, Permude/Muscat

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    Well scripted article.

    Agree [1]

  • James Peter DSouza, Mulki / Abu Dhabi

    Wed, Mar 13 2013

    Stan
    Excellent story. Reminds me of my school days, the Ground, the NCC uniform, Annual sports and the Kakana Angadi !!. I miss them all.

    But unfortunately may a 4-5 years later when I joined that School there were no charismatic teachers like Mr. Herle.. But still we enjoyed may be much with our naughtiness. Thanks for reminding us the Good Old School Days. Will I get them again?.

    Agree [1]

  • Dr Leonilla, bangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2013

    Heart touching and honest. Yes there are people in this world that make a difference. Your intuition shows the bond you both cherished.

    Agree [1]

  • Jerome Pereira, Mangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2013

    Stany, I am one of your ardent supporters and fans. First time in your life you have brought tears in reader's eyes.

    I liked the your autobiography . I never knew you were so mischeivous and naughty in your formatting years. Full marks to late G V Herle for the transformation in your life. I whenever I go on leave I manage to visit my college and bring out those moments of my salad days. I still remember what my professor late K.T. Shetty had said " you will not meet your friends in your life at the same time and at the same place". Those words bring tears to my eyes when I hear the passing away of my college mates due to ilness, wreckless style of living.... this is meant for those readers with emotions and plenty of tears to shed...Good luck Stany.

    Jemma

    Agree [1]

  • CGS, Mangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2013

    Its an autobiographical short story
    by Stan Timothy Ageira.Very intersting and touching narration.
    Seldom we find personalities like
    G.V.Herle who moulded the young
    mischievous lad called Timothy!
    Eagerly waiting to read the Konkani version of the story.

    Agree [1]

  • prescilla fernandes, mangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2013

    Beautiful but heart melting article. Lesson for us all not to wait till you accomplish everything in life. We should be in touch with our loved ones always no matter how busy we are. We have only one life and we must never delay in meeting our loved ones.

    Agree [1]

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