The year was 1970 and BM High School was going to the dogs. Discipline was at its lowest and the education authorities decided to do something about it. One day during the assembly we were introduced to a new Headmaster. He was called Malayapillai. We heard that he was a senior officer specially sent to get BMHS back to its former glory.
He was a 6 footer. We have never seen him smile. His nose was large with deep pimple marks on them. He looked more like a boxer then a headmaster. Despite his unfriendly look nobody gives a damn until the next day. During the second day of his posting to the school 16 boys had their hair cut real short. Before that we have never seen such action taken.
Now let me tell you how he instilled discipline. No student is to be caught walking outside the class during lessons, not even going to the toilet. If caught outside despite protestations that they were asked by a teacher to get something from the staff room or from another teacher, the student would be given 1 cut in the office. After that the students refused to run errants for their teachers.
I remember he once entered my class and woke a student up. When asked, the smart ass answered that he studied until late the night before. Since he couldn't fault the boy for the answer, his only response was " Your hair is long, go to my office". You can be sure he will be coming back with a sore arse.
My brother who had the misfortune of having him teach them English related how he demanded that his students memorize reading passages. They were to recite the passages or else suffer the consequences. The passages were at least 2 page long.
In the evening when we had football or rugby competitions, supporters must be in full school uniform or else suffer. I remember once he confiscated about 50 pairs of slippers. During one rugby game where we played another school (I can't remember which school) our star player, who was indispensable to the team reacted to a very vicious tackle. He was given the yellow card by the referee but that was not the end. The next day he was handed a six month suspension from representing the school in any sport by none other than the ogre himself.
One funny memory was when two boys from the primary school (Stowell School) down the hill took a short cut through our grounds. He caught them and they could be seen kneeling down as if praying to him. They almost shit in their pants.
Yours truly had 2 encounters with him. First when it was early in 1971. I was in form 3. I was assigned as the look out while the rest were having a fun time while no teacher was in class. I could remember clearly popping my head out of the class turning my head to the back and front and giving the OK signal when all of a sudden I felt a sting on the back of my head. When I turned back there he was. It was like all the blood had deserted my face. I am sure if you were to cut my cheek there would be no blood trickling. I was lucky that he decided that the whack was enough.
My second encounter was after our LCE the same year. I took my brother's guitar to school and we were having fun. There was no teacher in class. My monitor, Khor Hang Song, was playing at that time when he suddenly appeared out of thin air. He looked sternly and asked the monitor to take the guitar to his office. I didn't know what to do. I had heard that it would be next to impossible to get the guitar back. I had to get it because my brother would kill me. Anyway I borrowed the guitar without his permission. I knocked on the office door and he asked me to enter. After wishing him good morning, I almost begged him to give the guitar back. He just said, "I am not prepared to give you your guitar back". I was silent. Then he said, " You were not the one playing right?" I only dared to nod. He asked me to get out. While in the hall listening to some announcements, a prefect came looking for me. he said the headmaster wanted to see me. I said I was a gonner. I made my way to his room and he didn't say much, he pointed to the guitar and said "Take it". I am sure he could see how relieved I was. Before leaving the room I asked him if I could bring the guitar to school the next day. He said no, and I had no intention to ask why.
The only time he showed the other side of him was when we had a concert for two nights. The concert was a success. The play was well received and the variety show was first class. On Monday he announced that he was giving all of us a half day. I am sure even the teachers didn't believe what they heard.
Before the 1st term of 1972 ended, he was transferred. I guess it was job done. I next met him when I was in college in Ipoh. He visited our college in his capacity as the Deputy Director of Education.
He is one headmaster I could never ever forget. He came, did his job and did not overstay.
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