C.P. Muraleedharan Nair who retired as joint director from the Animal Husbandry Department on his student days at the Government Arts College

Imagine studying Math, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Indian History and World History in a year! The volume of the syllabus we had for the one-year pre-University course at the University Intermediate College, the present Government Arts College, was quite huge. Eventually, though, the course was discontinued.

There was hardly any time to relax or indulge in extracurricular activities. But there were many reasons to love the college. I consider myself lucky to have studied along with some of the best students. In those days the number of colleges was less and it was tough to get admission anywhere. I had completed my sixth forum from Raja Ravi Varma High School at Kilimanoor, my native place, with a first class [In those days, a first class had much value] and therefore could procure an admission to the pre-university course in 1958.

On the basis of our marks in the pre-university course, we could take admission for a one-year pre-professional course in the engineering or non-engineering stream [which included medicine, veterinary, agriculture, dental…]. Since I didn’t get a seat for medicine, my next option was veterinary science.

This course was taught in a handful of colleges across the state, one of them being the Intermediate College. To my surprise, I was allotted the same college for the course. Thus I was back on the campus, much to my delight.

My teachers and the association I had with them is something I will cherish for ever. While Madhava Menon, a stalwart in the academic field, was our Principal during the pre-university days, the next year we had Professor N. Krishna Pillai as the Principal. Some teachers I fondly remember are Professors S. Velayudhan Nair, Venkiteswaran and Joshua who taught us English, Parameswaran Nair, my Zoology teacher, who later served as director of Museum and Zoo, Lawrence sir who taught Botany and many years later took classes for my daughter Suchithra too, Chellappan Pillai who taught Hindi and Ramakrishnan, father of Nalini Netto, present State Chief Electoral Officer, who taught us Math.

For the pre-professional course, I had to study Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology and English. Among those who taught us were the teachers who had taught at the pre-university level as well. That was indeed a bonus for me!

Also, though my second language was Hindi, at the pre-university level, we students were very close to the Tamil professor Dr. Subramanian and Malayalam faculty member Prof. Karunakaran Nair, especially after they accompanied us on our trips to Kuttalam and Thenkasi.

A good library and ventilated classrooms with gallery seats were among the best things about my college. Because of the particular seat arrangement, no student could escape the attention of the teachers. I still remember how Ramakrishnan sir would walk into the class without the attendance register. He would simply look around and jot down who all were absent.

The campus life was calm and quiet with hardly any student politics. There was camaraderie among students. Of course, it was difficult to get close to all students thanks to the huge work load we all had. There were a couple of events that I remember very well. One was a speech by Swami Chinmayananda, which left us all spell-bound. Another was an Ottanthullal performance by Malabar Gopalan Nair.

After the pre-professional course, I joined veterinary college at Ollukkara in Thrissur from where I finished the course in 1964. It was my father Padmanabha Pillai’s friend Sivadas who encouraged me to take up veterinary science and the love for the subject is still with me, even after my retirement from service in 1995.

When I look back, I owe a lot to the Arts College campus. Being in the company of studious and industrious students helped to mould my character and maintain a competitive spirit.

His career

Muraleedharan Nair, who started his career as a veterinary surgeon in 1966, served in the Farm Information Bureau for 14 years as information officer. Part of the team that started ‘Krishi Pusthaka Corner’ in rural libraries across the state, he was among those who pioneered farming related columns in dailies. He has co-authored the book Garhika Vijnana Kosham, and has also written books such as Veettuvalappile Kozhi Valarthal, Tharavu – Paripalanavum Vipananavum, Turkey Valarthal, Kauthuka Pakshikal and Naaya – Nammude Nalla Suhruthu.

(As told to ATHIRA M.)

(A column to commemorate the platinum jubilee of the University of Kerala. Eminent teachers and people from different walks of life talk about their student days in various colleges under the University.)