Amidst plays, pranks and picnics

Amidst plays, pranks and picnics

From the albums

Amidst plays, pranks and picnics

In 1981, when this photograph was taken, I was the class teacher of class 12 at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School. I went on to spend many rewarding years at the institution which, along with Bishop Cotton Boys’ School (my husband’s alma mater), is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Soon after my marriage in 1979, I resigned as a lecturer at a Delhi college, and joined my husband in Bengaluru. Born in Jalahalli, I was not exactly a stranger to the city. Besides, it had been the home of my paternal grandparents, and I had visited it on previous occasions. Still, having grown up in the North, the Bengaluru I encountered in my 24th year was far from familiar, and I set about exploring it on my Luna moped. After a few months of meandering, I began to miss my former profession and longed for the lively interaction with young people that was integral to it. Consequently, I was delighted to get a teaching post at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School.

On June 2, 1980, the principal, Grace Clarke, introduced me to the faculty at the first meeting of the academic year. No sooner had the session concluded than my colleagues welcomed me warmly, and several friendships which I now cherish were forged that day. Among the senior staff, whom I grew to regard with respect and admiration, were Elizabeth Joseph and Stella Samuel, future principals of the school.

A person whom I worked with closely at this fledgling stage of my Cotton’s career was Mangala Deshmukh. The school was preparing its first batch of students to take the ISC examination and Mangala, who had been their English teacher in class 11, had gone up with them to class 12.

She was teaching Compulsory English, which was mandatory for both the Arts and Science (no Commerce then) streams. She was also teaching Literature in English (popularly known as Optional English or OE), an elective Arts subject. Starting with a new class 11, I taught the very same courses and later moved on to class 12. The Compulsory English group in the picture includes the half-a-dozen OE girls, whom I naturally met more frequently than the rest. Since, however, the total strength of the class was under 20, I got to know all those bright articulate youngsters equally well. I learnt much from them and hope that, although they were never as enthusiastic about Shakespeare’s ‘Richard II’ as I was, I managed to instil in them a love for literature.

I cannot honestly say that I recall the name of every student but I do remember each individually, and memories of pranks, plays and picnics spring to mind. In fact, in the photograph, I cannot recall the names of two students in the back row. 

As I gaze at their smiling faces, I sadly reflect that one of those dear children has passed away. I pray that the others are safe and happy. Perhaps they will get in touch with me. After all, unlike the early 1980s, this is the age of Facebook!