I was in Standard VII. Meera teacher was taking the English class. That was the day a new poem of Wordsworth was taught by her. It was called “An Ode to the Duty”§. The teacher was reading the poem and started telling the meaning of the poem. It was having three* stanzas with an introduction. She read the introduction too and told what it meant. After half an hour she asked five students to read the poem.
Suddenly an elder teacher brought in a new still elder person into our class. Our teacher asked us all to stand up. It was the new headmaster for our school. We said Good Morning Sir in a chorus. He asked all of us to sit down. He asked the teacher about that day’s portion. Then he asked one girl to read the poem from the book. She read it. HM was happy, our teacher was happier and felt relieved.
Then he asked a boy to tell him about the poem. When the boy started to read the poem, he cut him at it and asked him to tell what he knew about the poem and what is the meaning of the introduction to the poem. The boy told him an English poet William Wordsworth wrote it. He explained what he understood of the introduction.
HM asked the teacher who else will know properly. She pointed out some 3 pupils who read the poem before the HM came. But he asked another boy, he read the poem from the book and did not explain the meaning. HM stood up and came to the end of the first row and touched me and signaled me to stand.
I told him that the poet talked about someone who obeyed the God’s words of love and wisdom and who took it as her duty to follow God’s words all her life and that the poet assured that such a person will live happily without any problem.
HM said “Very good boy ! Tell me who the poet is talking to ?”. I told him it is a girl called Seneca. He started laughing. He asked the teacher why she was also laughing. She said that she knew that Seneca was not a girl the poem talks about. Then who is he? He himself told the class that Seneca was a philosopher whose two lines are given at the start of the poem. I was still standing and he asked the meaning of the two lines.
I told: “I am doing right things because I cannot do any wrong. It is my habit.”
His face showed he was satisfied (I was not, I was trembling inside.) and he told that the teacher and myself to come to his room in the evening. He immediately left for the other rooms to meet all classes.
The teacher seemed upset about me. We both felt that we are sure to get a reprimand. She ended the class and went to the next class where also she takes English.
By 5PM she came to our class and took me to the HM’s room. HM took just a short time. He asked her whether I can read the Bible and Quran aloud. She told him that she does not know as I am a Hindu. HM was angry at her. “I asked you a different question, you are not telling correct answer.” He asked me direct. I said I had not read either. Immediately he gave me a short book having English and Tamil versions of a Bible, showed me a page and asked me to take home, read it, bring back in the morning and be ready to read the portion. I looked at my teacher’s eyes which were red now. She signaled me to say yes. I said yes, took the book and came out. When my teacher also came out, he told her that this boy will read Bible in the prayer tomorrow.
I came home. Mom gave me some snacks. Dad was also there. I took out the Bible and showed it to him. He touched it with both hands and put his hand on his eyes. I told him that the new HM had given it and I should read this portion, I showed the page to him. He asked me to describe the HM. I told he was an old man, spoke nicely, asked me questions. He asked me to describe his appearance. I told him that he wore blue pants and a light blue shirt and sported three lined vibhuti on his forehead like my father sports. He took me immediately to my school and we met the HM.
HM called us both inside. He ordered coffee for both of us. He asked my dad whether he came to meet him with anger about a Brahmin boy being asked to read the Bible. My dad denied that and told he holds Lord Jesus as one of the forms of God. He told he came in to meet and thank the HM who asked his son to read the Bible. He also told the HM that I can also be taught Quran and ask to read from it. The village needed great people like the HM. He also told that next week there will be a meeting of elders in the village where he should also come.
We took coffee and left for home. While walking my dad told me that the HM was a great man and I should always obey him.
In the next morning prayer at school, I stood and read the portion:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
That was my first contact with Lord Jesus.
* Only three stanzas were given in our school book.