Sanjeeva Narayan
4 min readMar 12, 2023

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MR PJ ABRAHAM — A TRIBUTE TO AN AMAZING TEACHER

1. Throughout all stages of my life, whether academic, professional or even personal, I can undoubtedly admit to have been the fortuitous recipient of the guidance of the most remarkable, noble and admirable teachers and guides. Of course, the initiation started at home itself having a legendary teacher who epitomized the pinnacle of nobility as a father and an elder sister whose career as a Lecturer was most remarkably characterized by the instant bond that she developed with her students. This piece is particularly dedicated to one of my most beloved teachers — Mr. P.J Abraham, who cross the rubicon in 16th January, 2023 just a couple of months short of his 92nd birthday.

2. For the record Mr P J Abraham (“Sir” as we used to address him the salutation being not just a matter of obligation but arising out of genuine respect, love, affection and admiration) spent almost a life-time teaching generations of children Mathematics at St Xaviers School, Delhi and I count myself to be truly blessed to have been touched by his benevolence and munificent dedication to his chosen line of work. And teach Mathematics he did — removing the demons for those who were mortally afraid and exhibited a pathological animosity to his favorite subject and honing the skills of those who were naturally attracted to it. In the days when computing devices, even calculators, were unheard off, he had this uncanny ability to conjure up interesting examples to stimulate your thought process and put your mind at ease while working out complex calculations -mentally at that. Even the initiation into the elementary, yet somewhat abstract world of algebraic equations was the most lucid, effective and smooth that you can imagine — making the complex sound simple and the simple elementary — mind you with infinite patience laced with loads of affection and care. His routine also included a regular mental maths test wherein he would roll out a series of seemingly complex arithmetical calculations for the class to solve within a definite time frame invariably adding a fun element thereto. Of course, there would always be a cleverly hidden hint somewhere requiring an observing mind to figure out as to how the seemingly complex problem was otherwise easily solvable — a lesson in patience, keen observation, speed and of course concentration- life lessons to build not just arithmetical skills but also well rounded complete personalities capable of taking on the challenges of an external world.

3. While I benefitted from his larger than life personality and innovative teaching methods for just about a couple of years, it was his other engagements, activities and intents that mirrored his real self. He was the House Master of my house (Gandhi House) for the better part of my school life. And not just a house master in name, but a proactive one at that- keenly and deeply involved in its various activities, making useful suggestions while giving the students enough freedom for them to flower and give off their best. A perfect example of benevolent leadership personifying the golden mean between a hands on and hands off attitude. Of course he would not take any injustice to this wards lying down — fighting tooth and nail against any injustice with the potent combination of elegant ferocity and brutal grace exhibiting unflinching faith in his wards. Justice, fair play and a never say the attitude were the hallmarks by which he judged his wards and qualities which he expected all to immaculately follow.

4. His teaching abilities and leadership capabilities apart what also stood out was his mad love, bordering on infatuation of sports- both as a play and follower. A regular, keen and active member of the Teachers football team, his sense of agility (belying if I may say in jest his somewhat portly frame) and capability to strategize was something which was admirable and noteworthy. Of course, once on the field he was the ultimate embodiment of fierce determination and hard-boiled competition — no quarters given or taken — his deep-rooted understanding of the game made him a very admirable strategist and guide. He was also an avid follower of cricket and you could see him walking around with a transistor (yes, I am talking about that era) glued to his ear deeply engrossed in listening to the commentary — the expressions on his face very clearly and transparently encapsulating what was happening on the field.

5. For me personally, apart from helping me hone my arithmetical skills and initiating me into the world of algebraic equations he was a mentor who held my hand almost through my entire time at St. Xaviers School. On an even more, personal note, he made my life as a southpaw (left hander) very easy and made me immune, to any slants and ridicule that I used to suffer on that count even going to the extent of encouraging me to write an Article for the school magazine — “Lefties fight for your rights”

6. I kept in touch with him even after school — he even guided my son though what were for him the treacherous pathways of Mathematics. I was really blessed when he and Mrs Abraham (who also taught us Geography at School and admirably at that) visited our house at Christmas, a couple of years back — memories to cherish and on-shine in your heart.

RIP “Sir” you were a remarkable torchbearer of the teaching fraternity and I am sure Almighty Lord would really welcome you with open arms in heaven and open up the most hallowed pathways for you.

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