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Inspiring story of a committed teacher

‘Kudil and the Headmaster’

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“Kudil and the Headmaster” is the autobiography of Dr. Ratnam Niththyananthan, better known as Dr. Nithy of London. The title of the book is arresting and thought provoking. “Kudil” means cottage, and there is a picture, on the cover, of a thatched cottage set in verdant surroundings. There is also an inset of Dr. Nithy himself, also on the cover. Dr. Nithy’s autobiography is the story of his journey from a modest childhood home in a village in Jaffna to the Headmastership of a popular Tamil school in Britain. Dr. Nithy is a man of many parts and has worked successfully as a research scientist, a broadcaster, a teacher, a promoter of South Indian Fine Arts, a philanthropist, a public speaker and a writer. He has also, together with his wife, nurtured and guided a son who entered Eton and two daughters known for academic excellence. 

 
Dr. Nithy’s achievements are many and in diverse fields but, judging by the title of his autobiography, he seems to treasure his Headmastership of the London Tamil Centre the most. This is not surprising because he has had the opportunity, in this capacity, to mould many young minds. In Chapter 16 (Conclusion), Dr. Nithy has spoken directly of what the young are capable of. He has exhorted the young and their parents to dream and he has given quotations from four leaders who dared to dream. He has also quoted couplets from “Thirukkural”, which express the joy of the parents of children who have realised their potential.  


If the “Conclusion” is a direct appeal to the young to become worthy citizens, the rest of the book is an encouragement by example—by the example of Dr. Nithy. Not only the rest of the book, but the very title and illustration are inspirational. They indicate that no matter what the background is, a person can reach great heights and make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others. Dr. Nithy’s activities and achievements are written down in a matter of fact and unembellished, yet often entertaining, manner. For example, the environment in Sri Lanka and London in the middle of the last Century should make fascinating reading for young readers. This book can have a great impact on readers and educate and motivate them.  

 

As for the secrets of Dr. Nithy’s success, he has not been explicit but the secrets are on display in his story

 

As for the secrets of Dr. Nithy’s success, he has not been explicit but the secrets are on display in his story. He seems to work hard and enthusiastically and to persevere. He does not seem to be perturbed for long by disappointments and overcomes or accepts them. He has been able to enlist the help of friends, whom he has infected with his beliefs and values. He has appreciated the help he has received from others and has always expressed his gratitude for the assistance he has received. He has been fair and helpful in his dealings with others.  


Dr. Nithy has not shied away from describing the difficulties, anxieties, griefs and challenges he has faced. Young readers of this book will learn that there will be disappointments in life, but hard won achievements will compensate for all that. The lives of men like Dr. Nithy should remind us that “We can make our lives sublime/ And departing leave behind us/ Footprints in the sands of time.”    

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