R. I. P. NADARAJAH: KIRKBY 55-57
My dear Kirkbyites,
It appears that March is not a Kirkby-friendly month. Just a few days ago I
announced that our dear Ahmad Taib (52-53) passed away.
This morning Dato Kandan alerted me to an article in the NST: Farewell Mr
Nadarajah by Syed Nadzri. Nadarajah was known as Nadarajah Arumugam Pillai
According to the article, Nadarajah served at the Malay College Kuala
Kangsar. MCKK was a prestigious college and was referred to as the 'Eton of
the East'. He had taught there for a quarter of a century - 1958-1988.
He was, as one could conclude from the article, a very good teacher and
fondly remembered by those who graduated from MCKK.
IF you are remembered, it is a blessing and I'm reminded of the saying,
*To live in hearts we leave behind Is not to die.*
*~Thomas Campbell, "Hallowed Ground*
Nadarajah passed away yesterday, 24-3-2014.
I regret that Nadarajah was not listed in our Kirkby Directory and
therefore I don't have any details for you.
I'm attaching the article in the NST for your information.
25 March 2014| last updated at 12:17AM
*Farewell Mr Nadarajah*
By Syed Nadzri |
54 1 Google +0 0 0
*INSPIRATIONAL: The most glaring part about his lessons was that he made
it all very easy to understand*
MY dear old English teacher died early yesterday (Monday), leaving a rich
and accomplished legacy that would remain forever inside me, a person who
plies his trade through writing.
Nadarajah Arumugam Pillai was 78 but, apart from his slurred speech, he
looked just fine when I last saw him last Tuesday. That was when the five
of us, his former students at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, came to
visit him at his daughter's apartment in Damansara Perdana.
The death also came just a day after he sent me a rather bizarre text
message on my mobile -- a dot. I did not think much of that when I got it
and, worse, did not even reply, pushing me into deep despair the whole of
But that was Nadarajah the last few years -- texting messages through his
mobile whenever he could though most of the time, due to his condition, I
found many to be illegible.
I woke up yesterday morning to another message from his number. It turned
out that it was not him but his wife and the sombre lines: "Sir my husband
just passed away please tell everyone". I was dumbstruck for many minutes.
Nadarajah, who in his younger days bore some resemblance to Hollywood actor
Omar Sharif, was a superb English teacher and I was raised in the magical
world of the English language through him in the late 1960s and early
1970s, during the formative years at the boarding school.
Like most of the teachers during the period, he was Kirkby-trained and
undeniably old school, grinding and grilling into you what he thought
needed to be pushed.
The most glaring part about his lessons, aside from his repeated cigarette
breaks, was that he made it all very easy to understand -- vocabulary,
sentence construction and grammar. He would step into the classroom barking
stringent orders like "Today you better get your focus right". Loud.
I learnt the basic rules of subject and predicate in sentence construction
under him which holds me good to this day.
He would also distinguish the functions of adjectival or adverbial clauses
and how these would enhance a paragraph in essay writing.
Nadarajah carried out his lessons mainly through interacting with the
students rather than writing notes on the blackboard. But whenever he did
turn to the board, his handwriting was one of the most elegant I had ever
The teacher spent a huge part of his working life teaching in MCKK
(1958-1983), so it was quite understandable that his heart had always been
with the school. His bonding with ex-students would continue long after
they left the campus.
Because age was catching up, he had not been fully fit the last few years
and had to be confined to a wheelchair. He fell and broke his pelvic bone
once and not too long ago, his arm. On both occasions, he would let me
know, just like a father telling his son. When he received the five of us
last week, he again related his fall but said he was all right, though I
could see that he was losing weight.
During that encounter, we invited him to come for our classmates' reunion
and anniversary dinner later this year, and he looked quite keen.
"Just that I hope the place you are having it is disabled friendly," he
said. Alas, that chat proved to be his last farewell.
Nadarajah's fondness for MCKK even prompted him to write a letter to this
paper about two years ago.
"Whenever I am overcome by a pensive or vacant mood, I look forward to the
writings on the Malay College Kuala Kangsar by Syed Nadzri. His reports on
MCKK invariably take me down memory lane.
"I see in flashback, a steady stream of shy boys plodding through the
college gate, and after a period, marching out in style past the same gate
-- well equipped with knowledge and skills -- as confident and brave young
men, ready to face and even change the world.
"However, not all reports bring back pleasant memories. His report on the
slow death of the 'Big Tree' brought back haunting memories, wondering
whether it was attacked by the 'headless Japanese soldier' or toyol, or by
the 'Green Lady'. Worse still, it could be a combination of all three.
"Later, it was revealed that some giant termites were the root cause of the
problem. With care and attention, the Big Tree has been revived and
restored to its former glory. In the true spirit of MCKK, not even a tree
can fade away into oblivion or nothingness."
Goodbye Sir. May God bless your soul.
The funeral will be held at 1pm today at the MBPJ Crematorium in Kampung
Tunku, Petaling Jaya.
A picture of Nadarajah Arumugam Pillai and his wife, Vijaya Devi, taken
Read more: Farewell Mr Nadarajah - Columnist - New Straits
With very warm regards,