An orchard of knowledge

An orchard of knowledge

This photograph was taken in 1968 when I was in  class 10 at St Charles High School in St Thomas Town. I remember the school campus as having a beautiful chapel and a lovely fruit orchard.

When I was admitted to the nursery, the school was called St Thomas School and the convent was known as St Charles Convent. The convent was run by a Belgium-based order and the uniform then was a navy blue one-inch pleated skirt and white shirt with a tie and badge. A few years later, the name was changed to St Charles School.

The principal, Sister Andrews, was a very considerate and loving person. Mrs Francis, our Maths teacher, was soft spoken, and Mrs Cherian had just returned from Africa and was our English teacher. She was a disciplinarian who would get very annoyed with even the slightest distraction during class.

Also, we used to get excited seeing our PT Master, Mr Brown, who took morning sessions of drills. The sound of his Royal Enfield Bullet was thrilling as it called for some fun exercises. We went out to play throw ball matches often. We used to save the bus charge given to us and walked to the stadium instead. With the saved bus fare, we bought snacks from a hotel called ‘Select’ in Shivajinagar.

Our school compound had a small opening through the wall. As we weren’t let to go out during school hours, we used to come near the compound and extend our hands to the lady in the ‘tuck shop’ and buy sweets and ‘chikki’. Being young girls, we couldn’t help but giggle and get punished for the same.

Invariably, the ones who got into trouble were Mary Philips (who is in the US now) and Grace Philips (who is in the UK). Marie was another classmate who was fun-loving.

Certainly, there was a lot of unity and understanding among the girls. We all stayed in the same neighbourhood and had a lot of fun, to say the least. The school was connected to the Holy Ghost Church and Father Dominic from there gave us pep talks once in a way. We also put up a fund-raising concert at the Holy Ghost Parish Hall and went out selling tickets as well.
Despite all the mischief we caused as a class, later on in life I decided to become a school teacher myself.

Jessie John
(As told to Prajna GR)

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