MY LIFE AND STRUGGLES – 8TEACHING EXPERIENCES (Contd.)It was the practice to hold official meetings of all teachers in the area on second Saturday every month, presided by the Asst. Educational Officer. Teachers who could not attend had to apply leave. Since one leave will be lost in case of absence, all teachers used to attend, especially since AEO will be present. AEO will address, government circulars will be read, a model class will be taken by a teacher and discussion on the class will take place. For conducting these meetings and keeping records etc., a teacher will be selected as secretary of the official Teachers Association. My elder brother was the earlier Secretary. After he left, I was selected for the post. It was convenient for me, since the meetings used to take place in our school. Could also meet AEO at Mattanur, on way home.Orders of state government that all teachers should take LIC policies for a minimum amount of Rs.1,000 were issued during this period. It was discussed and decided that for the convenience of all, one teacher may take LIC agency and help all teachers. I was selected for the job. Took an LIC agency. It was not an easy task. Filling up application forms, collecting premium, paying it to LIC had to be done. Of course, Commission was received from LIC, which was satisfactory.During this period, the beloved leader of the Freedom movement and the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Tellicherry (present Thalassery) to address a hugely attended meeting. I went to Tellicherry to hear him and if possible to get an autograph from him. Had a box camera with me and posed as a photographer and got allowed to reach near him and take his photo. Requested for an autograph and got it. I was so happy to meet him and get the autograph. It was almost a dream come true.Pen friends were a craze then. I had some pen friends in USA, Britain and Germany. The German friend had sent me the box camera as present, with which I took the photo of Nehruji. The US friend sent me a very big and heavy stamp album with bundles of used stamps. I could not afford to give such costly presents. I sent them some books, instead.During my teacher days, I got connected with the Bhoodan movement started by Shri Vinoba Bhave. It was a movement to pressurize big landlords to donate land to the landless. The leaders of the movement went and got lands for distribution. A camp was organized at Thodannur near Badagara during 25-04-1958 to 15-05-1958, which I attended. S/Shri K.Kelappan, Ikkanda Variar and T.V.Anandan were the organizers. The routine was strict. Early morning, after bath etc. breakfast will be served. No tea or coffee; instead Jappi will be given, which is a combination of drink with pepper, ginger etc. Before taking breakfast, prayers of Hindu, Muslim and Christian will be recited by all – ‘Sarvamatha Prarthana’( All Religions Prayer).After breakfast, we move to the donated land. The main tasks were to dig well, construct road, break the rocks to enable construction of roads, cleaning the water tanks etc; it was service to the people. Part of Sarvodaya task. In the afternoon, classes will be conducted by the leaders.Jay Prakash Narayan and Vinoba Bhave were the leaders of the Sarvodaya Movement. Vinobaji had come to the camp once. I am not very sure now whether Jay Prakshji came to the camp. But got the opportunity to meet him at Patna Convention of NFPTE in 1978, when I was part of the delegation which met him at his residence. He was weak and sick. He passed away shortly afterwards.One day, after the work in the village, we went and took bath in a nearby temple tank. But the owners of the tank, high caste Hindus, objected to our taking bath. Reason – presence of so called ‘low castes’. Because of the ‘sacred thread’ on my body, they were willing to allow me to bath, but I did not want any special consideration. All of us protested and came back. We told the incident to Kelappaji. He met the trustees of the temple and got permission to take bath. There was no trouble later.One thing I realized was that most of the land donated by the landlords was unusable. There was also a line of thinking that the Bhoodan movement was started only to weaken the struggle for land.Later, I did not have much connection, both with the Bhoodan and Sarvodaya movements.Photoes (1) Loknayak Jay Prakash Narayan (2-3) K.Kelappan (4-5) Pen Friends.