He taught Malayalam literature in a school, but had recently come under a cloud. His critics complained that he was not qualified to teach the subject. Still, in the face of mounting criticism, he continued to teach in the school.
One day, the inspector of schools visited the school. He summoned the teacher and said, “I’ve heard that you are not qualified to teach Malayalam literature. What do you have to say?” The teacher was crestfallen, but replied: “Sir, that is not true. Please come and attend my class, and then decide for yourself.” The inspector agreed.
The inspector seated himself in the classroom, and the class began. The subject was a Malayalam translation of the Ramayana, the famous epic. Lord Rama had to leave his palace for a life of exile in the forests, and his wife, Sita, wished to accompany him. The part of the epic being taught in the class was Rama’s moving reply to Sita, painting a vivid picture of the difficulties of life in the forest and concluding that it was no place for a woman. It was an eloquent, touching speech that laid out the dangers of life in the forest in vivid detail and was designed to dissuade his wife from accompanying him to the forest. The teacher lost himself in explaining the poetry of the epic, and forgot all about the inspector sitting in his class.
After some time, with a sudden start, the teacher remembered the inspector. Where was he?? He looked around the classroom and saw the inspector seated in the room. He was wiping his tears with a handkerchief.
With this, the controversy over the teacher’s qualification to teach Malayalam literature was laid to rest. The inspector certified that the teacher was more than qualified to teach the subject.
Who was the teacher? He was M.P. Manmadhan, one of those who built up the Nair Service Society, the organization that looks after the interests of the Nair community in Kerala. This incident was narrated by him in an article he wrote, and was related to me by my father, from memory. It must have happened in British India, before Independence (1947).