Serving with love

Serving with love

Serving with love

Memories are triggered by a piece of music, a phone call, a painting, a newspaper article or a photograph, like this one which brought an overwhelming flood of memories that simply must be shared!

The 1971 academic year at Bishop Cotton Girls’ School had begun a few weeks before I joined as a teacher. Seventeen-year-old Christabel, a trained teacher, was in charge of the nursery section. This gorgeous, miniskirted young person needed an assistant, so the hunt was on for a second teacher. Susheila Mani, a friend on the faculty, managed to persuade me to write an application and present it to the Principal Mrs Acca Joseph. I entered the office with much trepidation but I need not have worried. As a parent of the school, motherly and mature at age 33, I was qualified for the job.

The following morning I walked into a room full of little girls and boys. They had taken their first step into the big world where each day brought fresh challenges and learning opportunities. Each one was one-of-a-kind and precious. It was a joy and a privilege to sing and dance and play with them. Their spontaneous response to stimuli, the natural development of social, intellectual and physical skills — it was fascinating to watch them bloom before our eyes. A special mention must be made of the parents who expressed their faith in us by appreciating and encouraging us. Christabel and I must have been a great team indeed.

Alas, my transfer to the high school came all too soon, but my interest in the nursery remained constant. I look at this photograph with pride as many of these little ones went on to make a great career for themselves. Ajay Loganadan is Head Investment Strategy Group Americas with HSBC Private Bank and Ravi Gopal Varma is a senior neurologist at the MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital. Ashwin Shetty is the director of Classic Group while Sarosh Saher went on to become a renowned architect and is currently a Senior Planner with the City of Elgin, Illinois. Vivek Chandy is a senior partner in J Sagar Associates, one of India’s largest law firms.

Change they say is inevitable. Numbers in the class doubled. Many new sections were added. Then the boys left the girls’ school. There was also change of another kind. As the years went by, many a garage space and portico in the City was turned into playschools. At least one year of ‘schooling’ was done before they reached Cottons. The first day saw them getting together in little gangs, playschool A, B and so on. Senior prefects, assigned to cheer newcomers through their first week at school, withdrew. The hapless teacher was left to manage the many ‘princesses’. As more mothers went to work, grandparents became a ‘desirable commodity’. Admissions were sought at any cost. The race began, to be number one.

Hundred-and-fifty years is a milestone indeed! Last month I was privileged to participate in a ‘Heritage Walk’ organised as part of the Sesquicentennial celebrations of the Bishop Cotton Schools. Meera from INTACH, an old Cottonian, gave us a brief account of the historical background in which the schools came into being. There were facts and figures and photographs and anecdotes which made the experience a memorable one.

As we moved from St Mark’s Cathedral, past Bowring Institute, through both the schools, we got a glimpse of the determination of the founding fathers, the tenacity of dedicated heads that sustained the school through difficult times and the zeal of the missionaries who emphasised truth, justice and honour. There is no present without the past, even as there is no future without the present.

Mrs E Joseph
Bishop Cotton Girls’ School