There is an ANGLO INDIAN SCHOOL in Trichy (Thiruchirapalli @ Trichinopoly) in THAMIZH NADU by name CAMPION HIGH SCHOOL. Anglo Indian schools are minority institutions built for the benefit of the Anglo Indian community in India.
I had not the quaintest of idea as to what an ANGLO INDIAN school was. In Trichy there were atleast 2 other schools which were affiliated to this Board, ANGLO INDIAN BOARD. One was VESTRY SCHOOL and the other was St. JOSEPH’S for girls. All within a radius of 2 kms. For boys CAMPION was considered to be the best. Consequently, my dad decided to put me in CAMPION. My father had been transferred from PALAYAMKOTTAI, a town in the district of Tirunelveli, from Southern Thamizh Nadu. Palayamkottai was considered my many as the OXFORD of the South. How they arrived at that is still a mystery to me. If cramming and Maths were the yardstick by which Educational standards were to be determined, then Palayamkottai should qualify to be so called.
English, as a language has two parts- the written part and the spoken part. At Palayamkottai terrific emphasis is laid on grammar and without being able to locate an issue on English grammar in WREN & MARTIN within the next 10 seconds would make one an idiot in English. But the problem was that , at Palayamkottai none could frame a sentence in English without making it a grammatical example of how a sentence ought to be. Yet when they articulated the sentence, it would sound as if an African tribal was mouthing English words in an American movie!
So armed with my spoken English like an AFRICAN TRIBAL, i entered the hallowed precincts of CAMPION at TRICHY. All the boys were neatly dressed in tie, belt and shoes with the former two carrying the emblem of the school. None was allowed to loosen the tie nor be found slovenly clad. The punishment was frog jump the entire ground- and it was not easy with all that heat and dust in Trichy.
I had never met any ANGLO INDIAN in Tirunelveli. So after entering the class room i found that more than 30 % of the students were persons having a complexion different from the natives. Most of them were fair with a foreign tinge, some even freckled. After i took my seat, a guy from the bench behind asked, “What the f##k is yr name, man?” and i kept quiet. The class was over and this guy taps me on my shoulder and asks me, “what the f@$k is your name man?” I said, “My f&*ing name IS ————” From my Tirunelveli accent and name he found out that i was a native christian. So he said, “Come to the parlour. I wanna show you something. ”
It was recess and he took me to the lounge in front of the school office and told me to read and find out what those words around the emblem of the school meant. It was CUR HIC STATIS.
I said i couldn’t figure out the meaning. He said, there are 2 meanings one for the Anglo Indians and the other for the natives. For the Natives it meant, DOG, YOU HERE? and for the Anglo Indians WHY ARE YOU HERE? He went on to tell me that the natives have no business to study in Anglo Indian Schools. His name was JUDE PABERNETHY. He introduced himself and said that the “P” in his surname was silent and that i should call him Jude.
I went back and read the school Hand book to find out the meaning of the three words CUR HIC STATIS. There it was, WHY DO YOU STAND HERE? It sounded odd. I had studied in more than 10 schools and none of the schools had a question for its “motto”- all were RISE & SHINE, SERVE & OBSERVE, COURAGE & FAITH etc. etc. This question was quite perplexing and at that age (atleast my mental age) CUR HIC STATIS made no apparent sense.
Later on i became friendly with a Hindu student from the same class who clarified that the Anglo Indians hated “us” and thought we were spoiling their European culture. Yet the import of what Rajan said was not grasped fully by me. He went on to add that the “CUR” in our motto was interpreted, by some fanatic Anglos, to mean DOGS referring to Indian students. I felt bad- helplessly bad.
Years later when i was passing by RIPON BUILDINGS at Madras, i asked my dad, why should they have the statue of Ripon when India had gained Independence and was no more under the yoke of the British? He said (he was a student of History in college) there was a bill, introduced and made a law by a Viceroy, called the ILBERT BILL, where a European defendant, in a criminal case, could be tried by an Indian Judge/magistrate. THAT VICEROY WAS LORD RIPON. He was a product of the LIBERALISM which was sweeping the political climate in England. Therefore Lord Ripon was one person, who though was a Britisher, lay emphasis on HUMANISM and brought equality between the European Judges and the Indian judges. So as a mark of homage to his large heartedness, RIPON’s statue was retained.
When i took to reading History myself, i discovered that Lord Ripon’s stay as Viceroy was cut short by the opinion back in London, where Duke of Connaught (one of the sons of Queen Victoria) is supposed to have said that Lord Ripon was the biggest fool in Asia and thereby hastened RIPON’S exit. The Tories won and brought a new VICEROY to India.
His replacement was CURZON! Son of a CUR. And i had come a full circle. One of the roads radiating from INDIA GATE at New DELHI was earlier called CURZON ROAD. Curzon was responsible for the shift of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi and Lutyens Delhi was his concept, yet within a few years of the Britishers leaving India, the road – CURZON road, was renamed KASTURBA GANDHI MARG. We needed gender equality- Ashoka, Akbar, Shah Jahan, Raj Path, Tilak, Purana Qila, Copernicus etc. but no woman- and we renamed CURZON ROAD and eliminated his day to day memory!
WE ASKED CURZON’S SPIRIT THE SAME QUESTION : “CUR”ZON, DOG WHY HERE?
I understood the meaning interpreted by Jude Pabernethy, many years back at the CAMPION. Our opinion colours our perception. We remember for years the slights heaped on us and take reparative reprisals decades after the injuries were suffered. My resentment at Jude’s statement vanished, years after they were inflicted!