THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At first glance, the L-shaped, low-hung building tells you little. The real story lies behind it, beyond a sturdy-looking granite compound wall. Looks, however, can be deceptive.
A gaping, man-made ‘canyon’ on the other side is threatening to swallow up the wall as well as the building which houses an 86-year-old canteen on the campus of the SMV Model HSS at Overbridge. The canteen, in fact, turns 86 this Sunday, but the teachers and students fear that it may cease to exist one of these days. In the neighbouring compound, the soil has been gouged out so deeply that the school wall, a number of teak trees and the canteen are endangered, school officials said. Over the past two weeks, they have been busy filing complaints before the Chief Minister, Education Minister, District Collector, the RDO, the police and the City Corporation to prevent private parties from endangering the property.
‘’We complained to the police and the Corporation on February 3. The staff council met on February 10 and has demanded protection for the school property,’’ school headmaster A K Sadananda Chettiyar said. The SMV School - which has produced stalwarts like nuclear scientist Dr P K Iyengar - is one of the oldest in the State, but its canteen too has an interesting story.
There is a small, faded plaque on its facade which reads, ‘The Children’s Friend. Free Mid-Day meal to school boys. Built and endowed by T Padmanabha Row in the memory of his wife Sowbagyavathy Rajamma Bai. 19th February, 1926.’ ’T Padmanabha Row was the brother of Diwan Madhava Rao,’’ explained a teacher. ‘’Nearly 480 of our students still have their mid-day meal in this building,’’ the teacher said. If this is the story on the southern side of the school, a quick jaunt to the north-east corner also is required to understand the challenges faced by this old government school, which occupies prime real estate in the middle of the capital city. Here, part of the compound wall is down, and the rubble has spilled over into the compounds of neighbouring houses.