That Monday the speaker at the assembly said that the tendency of people to ‘discard’ or disregard their aging parents is unfair. He emphasised that parents were not a pair of shoes that one throws away once worn out, or when one grew out of it. What a comparison to bring a great lesson home to the young cadets!
After the assembly, our first class was biology by Mr CAS Raghavan, better known amongst us cadets as Jigs. There was a brief discussion about the morning speech and he asked as to whether we knew as to who the speaker was. None of us knew his name. Then Mr Jigs declared – It was Mr I Louis Fernando (ILF), the physics teacher.
Mr ILF was an amazing human being, an amazing teacher and an amazing mentor who always motivated me to give my best. He was the one who used to urge me to put my best and was very confident that I would join the National Defence Academy and he was dead right.
A flamboyant Late Mr PT Cherian (PTC) headed our physics department and he was in the forefront of all activities – both academic and extracurricular. Mr Cherian was well known for his skills at basketball and volleyball and every cadet dreamt of imitating his ‘Fosbury Flop’ at the high-jump pit.
There we had Mr PTC on one end and Mr ILF on the other end of the physics department. A soft spoken thorough gentleman Mr ILF, I have never seen him upset or angry ever. The actions of both Mr PTC and Mr ILF were more like the Newton’s third law of equal and opposite reactions. Like the two unlike poles, Mr ILF and Mr PTC were attracted to each other and the physics department achieved many a glory for the school in all spheres.
I cannot forget his house then, the first building opposite the Administrative Block. It was aptly named மலர் (Flower) as Mr ILF had the best garden in the campus, brimming with many varieties of roses.
Mr ILF taught us electronics, his favourite subject in our grade 9, beginning with valves and transistors. Like many in our class, I can proudly say that the foundation for my knowledge of electronics was laid by Mr ILF.
My association with Mr ILF grew mainly during various physics club activities, the public address system management and light & sound arrangements during various cultural activities and plays the cadets and staff staged.
Mr ILF was a great Guru, silent ever, with a smile on his lips and knowledge up his sleeve. All the lessons he taught me – both life as well as academic – will be with me always.
Death cannot take away Mr ILF, he will always remain alive in our hearts. I feel lucky because I was one of his students who got to know him personally. It was such a bliss. I pray he is in the good place now, watching us from the right side of the Creator.