ANOTHER GIANT PASSES AWAY
The PPS in the 60s was among the top seven schools of India. It was a new school in comparison to others in its league. The reason for it rising to such heights in such a short time lay in the able leadership provided by Mr JK Kate. The selflessness with which he worked got him full backing of the Board. Above all it was the team work that existed in the PPS teaching staff during this period. They were hard working, multifaceted and dedicated bunch. They laid such strong foundations for the PPS that despite many upheavals in its short history the school has managed to survive with much of its reputation. The teachers of the founding years over a period of time became giants in the field of teaching and handling children. Most of them went on to head famous schools later in their lives.
I don’t want to name them all here, but Mr Premnath Mathu (Ex Geography and Commerce) was among them and it was a sad occasion when he passed away recently in Delhi. and joined the growing list of those giants who have left this world.
We carry below some excerpts from personal letters written by his daughter, Old Nabhaite Basanti Mathu(R-73,1967) and son JL Mathu and a tribute by madam Mrs KP Tandon in this issue. Also sharing two anecdotes by his student and house boy Wg.Cmdr.Bikramdev Singh (S-84,1969)
I apologise for replying so late but was extremely busy with my work. I really appreciate your idea of placing a write up in the PPS school magazine. Here is a brief about the time after PPS. Please feel free to edit as required for the magazine.
After my father left PPS around 1980 he went to Jammu and settled there. He loved teaching and wasn't going to give it up so soon, so immediately applied for a job in a training college in Jammu passed away and my brothers, eldest in Delhi Mr B L Matu, and younger in Denmark, Mr J.L.Mathu insisted that as he would feel very lonely by himself and therefore live with them. So my father moved to Delhi. During those days I too was based at Delhi.
You may recall Mr. YP Bhardwaj (he taught us history), while he was the principal of Army Public School, Dhaulakuan, Delhi he visited my father whom he held in great respect. At this meeting he offered him a job in his school. My father was very passionate about teaching, and he did not need much persuasion to accept. In fact we told him that he needed the much deserved relaxation now, but he insisted that he loved to be with children, we didn't want to displease him and accordingly he worked in Army Public School.
He was keeping in good health and was very happy. He worked for about an year and then my brother wanted him to go to Denmark. In the summer of 1990 he went to Denmark and thereafter every year he spent 2 seasons in Delhi and 2 seasons in Denmark (March/April leave for Denmark and in Sep/Oct return to Delhi). He followed a regular disciplined routine, going for regular walks, reading, giving a helping hand which kept him physically and mentally in good health. While in Denmark, he used to visit the local library every day, read and had made some friends of his own age group. While in Delhi & Denmark, he used to adjust and mix very well with their friends & children and they all used to look forward to his yearly visits.
Being a Geography teacher he loved visiting new places and used to draw maps of the places he visited, showing lakes & rivers and write long letters giving all information about the places he had visited. He was fortunate to visit Sweden, Norway, London, France, Switzerland , Germany, USA, niece in Sharjah (Middle East), another niece in Canada and us in New Zealand. He read a lot of books on spiritualism and liked going to places of worship.
My husband (Col H.L. Sathu) who was there just before he passed away in Delhi told me that during his last few days he started forgetting things and kept saying that he has to go to school to teach his students.
Recalling quite some time back, I once asked him, wouldn't he have been happier if he had achieved something more or risen higher, he replied "every time I see or hear a student of mine has achieved more than me I feel as though I have achieved it and then I get a great feeling of happiness, contentment and satisfaction".
All I would like to add a few things. while in Denmark, he read Bhagvatam, Bhagvat Geeta and other spiritual books. He attended many lectures and "Satsangs" in temples /Gurudwaras etc. in Denmark. After reading many of the valuable ancient "Indian spiritual scriptures", he was asked by a group of Indians living in Denmark "What have you got from these scriptures and Satsangs". His immediate reply was "I am no longer scared of death any more". In his simplicity the last words he chanted before leaving his body on 17th Feb. 2004 were "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare". I am thankful to God that I am the son of an extremely noble and simple father, who loved his family, country and most of all his teaching profession.
The passing away of Mr. Mattu has really made us both very sad. It has opened chapter of our lives covering almost two decades of our stay in P.P.S. Nabha together with the Mattu family that it was in their residence. We moved in 1979-80. Mr. P.N. Mattu was a dominating personality amongst the faculty members of P.P.S. Nabha. He served as Geography head of department after Mr. M.N. Tankha and as a House master Sutlej house. Mr. Mattu’s command over the subject was so strong and his ability to draw the world map on the blackboard while facing the class was fantastic. It made him an awesome personality for all.
My personal relationship with Mr. P.N. Mattu was of great value to me as Mr. Mattu had also served in Col. Brown’s School at Dehradun before joining P.P.S. Nabha. Mr. P.N. Mattu’s brother had been a great teacher at Col. Brown’s and taught my own brother whose maps used to be so neat and nice that it made me admire not only his work but the teachers who taught him so well.
I am reminded of an episode when on Mr. Tankha’s going to London and Mr. Kate making me shuttle between junior and the senior school in 1968. I was asked a question by ‘Ravinder Virk’ now in Lawrence school, lovedale-what was the exact meaning of the word ‘CWM’. I told her I would check and let her know. I met Mr. Mattu in the corridor and asked him but look at his modesty, he just said “Why are you pulling my leg ? Are Chhodo !” When I convinced him I wasn’t sure through I knew it had something with glaciers he simply said” corrie, cirque aur CWM ek hi to hote hain”. He was so unassuming.
His daughter Basanti and Jyoti Kate were classmates and it was really great having them with us. Mr. Mattu was extremely brave when he took her for a checkup and straight away went in for her operation without waiting for any one to share his burden. It really made us marvel at the mental strength Mattu Sahib.
There are number of interesting anecdotes related to the hardwork he put in and made the pupils work hard too. I am reminded of Rajpal Singh Mann(Ravi) who wrote an interesting account of tea production in India by describing how his father relished a special cup of tea and Mr. Mattu’s reaction to it.
Mrs. Mattu was such a friendly person and spoke in her lovable Kashmiri Hindi. Jawahar his son used to stay in Germany – (an excellent person in his own right) so Mrs. Mattu gave me a very carefully packed packet of spices for him when I went to England in 1970. As luck would have it an Indian plane was hijacked to Lahore and terrorism seemed to begin to show up its ugly face. We were frisked and checked and not allowed to get off the plane in Germany. The British were far too fussy over Indian spices – so the packet could never reach Jawahar and it also took away our chance of meeting in England from where he was to collect the same later.
I am sure the students who were in Mr. Mattu’s house and had the good foretime of studying form him will join my husband Mr.K.C. Tandon our daughters Amy and Puneeta and myself in paying a great tribute to a towering personality teacher, a good friend and a genuine person I wish god would produce more such personalities I pray to the almighty to make his soul rest in peace and give the family members the strength to bear this great loss.
“The Pinnie eaters of Sutlej House”
I can't forget the incidence when Mr Mattu (Ex-Satluj and Ex -Goegraphy)chased me and Mohanjit (S-110)( Now a Brigadier) when he found us skipping the games period and eating Pinnies. We had a classmate Gurdev Singh (S-83) who had brought Pinnies from home, Mohanjit and me decided to eat a few while everybody went for games in the evening. Mr Mattu was passing through the dormitory on his way home and we hid under the beds. He had seen us so he kicked under the bed, and there we were with Pinnies in our mouth running around the dorm till he caught us pinched our ears and said " you rascals you can't hide from me ", and sent us packing to the games field. We loved him for all this and he loved us more. It was he and his colleagues who were father figures for us and shaped our lives, and made us what we are today. That dedication with which he worked is rarely found in today’s teachers.
I was reading the Oct issue of the Eagle and learnt of the Sad Demise of Mr. PN Mathu who was my House master and a father figure at school. He was a great man who really loved his students and went out of his way to help them understand whatever he taught. I was posted in Jammu in the Air Force helicopter unit from 79-82 when I met him just by chance. It was late in the afternoon when a newly posted in Officer Flt Lt RS Saini, an ON (ex Ravi 67 or 68 batch), walked up to my room and asked if I could help his wife get a seat in the B Ed College. As a helicopter pilot I used to be flying the state ministers pretty often so he thought I could do him this favour. With Saini on my pillion, I drove my motorcycle to the college. Though the college was closed, the watchman guided us to the residence of the Principal. We drove to the said house and low and behold, Mr. & Mrs. Mattu received us at the door. It was really a great surprise and we hugged each other. Mrs Mattu gave us a lovely cup of tea. We spent an hour plus talking of good old days at PPS and I enquired about you and learnt that you were married to an army officer from the Signals. Flt Lt Saini was promptly given a seat for his wife although the entrance exams had already been held.
The PPS bonds are so strong that Mr Mattu whispered into our ears " Don't tell anyone. I will put her name on the list of students admitted to B Ed." Soon after this meeting I moved out of Jammu to NDA as an instructor and never had the chance to see the great teacher again.
In his passing away, the world has lost a Great Teacher. However, he has left behind footprints in the sands of time for the PPS fraternity to follow. May God bless his Soul.
when ever I see something to do with geography reminds me of my geography teacher late Mr P N Mattu sir ( pardon me for spelling mistake if any.) Sitting in class still remember very fondly sir drawing the map of world to perfection looking at us the students with his back towards the black board. Great he was……om shanti sir. …….was my Sutlej house master, till I left the house.
Beautiful! What a great human being Mr Mattu was. A very down to earth family man loved and very well respected by students and faculty. Frugal by nature he practiced what he preached. He always advised students to work hard towards their goals as their parents worked very hard to pay for their school expenses. His presence was felt all around as he never missed any school functions be it debates, dramas, lectures, etc. Apart from his favorite subject of Geography Mr Mattu possessed a vast knowledge of many topics. I learnt a great deal from him. Equally generous was Mrs Mattu. Proud to say that they both considered me a family member of theirs. I got to know his sons and Basanti very well. During my hitchhiking days I spent nearly a week with his son Jawahar in Denmark.Thank you Yashpal for sharing your experiences of Mr Mattu.
Pushap Raj sir, I agree with what you have said of my father, he practiced what he preached. He loved his students and felt very happy when they did well after leaving school. He used to proudly talk about his students in high posts. Like parents feel elated when their children do well he felt the same when his students did well. My brother who is in Denmark remembers you.It's so nice to be in contact and remember our good old days at PPS.