I DID my M.A in English from Delhi University sixty years ago. Postgraduate classes were held in the Arts Faculty building for five days in a week. On the sixth day there would be no class. It was a day meant for tutorial meetings. A group of two or three students were assigned to one tutor. He would give some assignments, resolve their difficulties, suggest extra readings and act as a friend, philosopher and guide. The practice continues even today.
While the best teachers were drawn from all the constituent colleges to teach in the class, tutorials were held in the colleges through which students were enrolled.
I had taken admission through Hindu College. The tutor whom I was assigned was a young man who had just come from Oxford with a Doctorate. I was quite impressed by his command over the subject, be it prose, poetry or drama and his style of teaching. I spent 2-3 hours every week with him discussing various topics.
Two years passed quickly. My result was out and I had done fairly well. I decided to call upon him, to thank him for the special interest taken by him in me and to finally take leave of him. After chatting for a few minutes, he asked me as to what were my plans. I told him that I had an offer of appointment as a lecturer in the college from where I had done my ‘Honours’. He was immensely pleased and congratulated me. I said it was all due to his sincere help and guidance.
With all humility, I asked him if he would like to give me any parting advice which might be of use to me in life. He paused for a minute, reflected and asked me if I had read my Shakespeare thoroughly. I was a little taken aback. Sensing my embarrassment, he said, “Now that you hold an M.A degree in your hands, I don’t intend to test your knowledge”. I heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Sir, I have read Shakespeare but I cannot say how thoroughly it was”. He asked, “Do you recollect what he had said in Hamlet by way of advice”. I got the hint and said, “Yes sir, it was Lord Polonious who delivered a long sermon to Laertis in these words:
To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as night the day,
Thou can’t not then be false to any man”
He jumped in his chair with ecstasy and remarked, “Yes, this is what I wanted to hear and this is my parting advice to you.”
I thanked him once again and got up to take leave. He came to the gate to see me off, wished me good luck and while taking a turn repeated, “Be true to thyself”.
How, I wish I were his student once again at eighty, today. Alas! He is no more. No more in flesh and blood. But his spirit still remains in the form of a chair — Dr Sarup Singh Chair in Kurukshetra University. I bow to it.
Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com