Eulogy for Mrs.Rose Mahesan (Rose Akka Teacher)

It is an honour and privilege to be invited to say a few words about our lives and times in the St Sebastian's School under the guidance of late Rose Akka teacher. She was called Rose Akka even to this day with great affection.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt."

When you are little, people always frighten you, wait until you go to school and see what the teacher going to do you. You have this notion that teacher will be waiting with the cane as you enter the school. It was more than four decades ago I was a prep student in her class. I vaguely remember my mother dragged me out to school almost one and half kilometre with a small bag of lollies she bought in Soosan kadai, and hand me over to Rose Akka. Far from the truth, there stood a warm friendly teacher to receive me in to the prep class. Her easygoing and friendly manner soon settles most of the children's fears about school. She taught nearly all of Karampon student's nursery rhymes and alphabet in our early lives. There would be a few people who were not taught by Rose Akka especially if you have a catholic background.

My memory goes beck when she saw me eating in the class while I was learning to write the alphabet. She asked me what I was eating I said it is a mango, she asked me where is it. I produced this half eaten mango out of my pocket. She took a bite and said it was very nice. Every time she passed the table she took a bite then I took a bite until it was finished. From then on she will tell if I am eating, put the fruits on the table. Be it Nelli fruit or raw Tamarind or Odiyal she will always come and help her selves for some fruit as she taught us. Soon I learnt that if I want to eat some thing I shouldn't chew while she was not watching in my direction.

When I was grade three I dint want to stay for evening assembly, I picked up my bag and as was about to leave the school ground Rose Akka called me, aren't you staying for assembly. I thought I will pull the wool over her eyes, I told her my father wanted me come home early. She asked why, I told her we are going to 'Sinnamadu' for novena. She said the last novena was yesterday, but if you don't want to stay you can go home but stay for tomorrow's assembly. This was her style of discipline. Instead of dragging the children and making them kneel for the entire assembly.

I asked a few people about their experience with Rose Akka teacher. Rohini Sivanathan said, once her father sent her a beautiful frilly dress from Colombo and she wore it to school. Rose Akka teacher picked her up and dance as she sang the Tamil nursery rhyme "Vannathy Poochi Parakutthu Par". She never hesitated to assist those kids in the neighbourhood who were less fortunate than her. She would go out of her way to make sure these kids are fed and being cared for.

"When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel."

I spoke to Mangala Srikantha hoping I will be able to pass on this responsibility of giving eulogy on to her. I asked her about her experience with Rose Akka teacher. She was devastated at the passing of her beloved teacher. She sums it at, as she was twenty to thirty years ahead of her time. She never used a cane to discipline the children. Even when she was in prep she was more like a friend than a teacher, she was very tolerant and understanding, and the school was very lucky to have a teacher of that calibre. It will be highly unlikely you will find a teacher like her in Kayts.

She also told how she was fond of mangoes, as rose Akka passed her house once she saw mangoes on her tree she commented you have nice mangoes. Next day Mangala's mum send ten mangoes to school to give it to Rose Akka. She still remembers as five year old dragging the mangoes to school through the paddy fields. She was delighted to receive the mangoes. The next day Rose Akka sends her sister Ponmani with 10 coloured chalks to Mangalas house. She said those days you can't find chalks not alone coloured ones. She said it was like Christmas for her. Rose Akka knew how to treat the children and how to make them happy.

Mangala said she would miss Rose Akka if she didn't come to school. I will go to her house if Rose Akka didn't come school, l just to see if she is all right. How many teachers can boast having a student visiting her at home to see if the teacher is ok.

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these." Author: George Washington Carver

I asked for some recollection from my sisters, they said the same thing she is only teacher that any student can communicate without being fearful or frightened. She is kind and gentle and always greets them with a smile. A capable teacher who actively participated in sports and religious activities. Always dressed and groomed well.

"The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honour. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt."

You have passed on your creative talents and gentle nature to all your children; we feel the warm smile, caring nature and quick wit in all of them.

Charles Dickens

Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,
Ere I lay me down to sleep;
Bid Thy angels, pure and holy,
Round my bed their vigil keep.

My sins are heavy, but Thy mercy
Far outweighs them, every one;
Down before Thy cross I cast them,
Trusting in Thy help alone.

Keep me through this night of peril
Underneath its boundless shade;
Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee,
When my pilgrimage is made.

None shall measure out Thy patience
by the span of human thought;
none shall bind the tender mercies
Which Thy Holy Son has bought.

Pardon all my past transgressions,
Give me strength for days to come;
Guide and guard me with Thy blessing
Till Thy angels bid me home.

We pray for the repose of her soul and we thank God for her dedicated service to our community. We are richer by her presence and will be stimulated by her teaching and memory for many years to come.

As the angels takes you into heaven the lord will greet you just the way you greeted us in the prep class with a warm smile and a gentle touch.

The lord will carry you in his arms just the way you carried the children in the class and danced.

The angels will sing songs of comfort just the way you sang nursery rhymes for the children.

The lord will always be kind and gentle just the way you treated all of us when we were weak and vulnerable.

So long, Rose Akka as we bid farewell.

John Hilbert