Some lessons of life

From the albums

Some lessons of life

This photograph was taken in 1955 with the staff and students at Methodist Mission Boys Secondary School (MMBSS). I joined the school as one of the staff members in 1952 after a nominal interview by the principal Rev J D Wilfred.

 A letter of recommendation was given to me by the chairman of the school board to be given to the principal. He went through it and asked me if I would be able to handle the big boys.

MMBSS was established by Christian missionaries in 1822. This was the first school which introduced Tamil medium for the middle school, mainly for the poor children in the Cantonment area.

The high school was English medium. This is one of the oldest schools in the city and still stands tall. It is located on both sides of Dharmaraja Kovil Street — the playground is on one side while the classrooms are on the other.

There were very few female teachers at that time. Rev J D Wilfred was a strict disciplinarian and straightforward in his talk with everyone who came for a job or admission.

We had staff prayers every Saturday morning from 7.30 am for an hour. It was compulsory for every staff member to attend on time.

The teachers and students were alert during class hours, especially for the principal’s visit anytime during the day. He would sometimes come with a small stick to punish unruly students and his presence was more than enough for children to be disciplined.

A lot of importance was given to extracurricular activities. The annual sports day was an event everyone looked forward to.

However, the school ground was not enough for the different sports events. So we used to conduct some of them at Cubbon Park. The principal was present for all the events and the prizes were given out by him — first prize three pencils, second prize two pencils and the third, one pencil. The event most loved by students was the running race — to run and touch the tree at a distance and run back to the starting point. There was no fight or mischief among them.

Taking students to Lalbagh or Cubbon Park was not a problem as BTS buses were arranged by the school. Once we took the boys to Cubbon Park for a joy ride in the toy train. After we got off, a little while later, some boys came and told us that two boys were lying on the track to hear the chugging of the train. The gardeners who saw them pulled them out in time and reprimanded them. During another picnic, a group of naughty boys went for a swim in a pond nearby. They were dripping wet and shivering later on. The boys surely gave us a lot of anxiety from time to time!
 As staff members, we visited Jog Falls, Shravanabelagola, Hesaraghatta, Shimoga Cement Factory and Iron and Steel Factory. The principal encouraged us to go for educational tours. School exhibitions on various subjects were a joy.

Our school celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1972 during John Jayapaul’s principalship. Though we, as staff, belonged to different religions and languages, we were like a family. There was unity and we enjoyed working together and helping each other, sharing our joys and sorrows .

I retired as the headmistress from the school and am grateful to god for helping me serve in this school under the leadership of many principals.

MMBSS will celebrate its bicentenary in 2022. Two of my old students — Muthumani, a senior editor and journalist, and Palani, an interior designer — visit me often and share their school memories.

Now as I sit back and think of all the boys I have taught, my heart is filled with joy and satisfaction. I do meet a lot of my students and some of them have greyed so much that it makes me wonder if it is the same boy I taught years ago. Some of them I can easily recognise because of their good behaviour or mischief. They are all in different fields of life and I feel proud to have taught them.

When they visit me and bend down to touch my feet, I feel blessed and glad to have taken up teaching, a noble profession indeed. It makes me realise that you get the best of others when you give the best of yourself!

(The author can be contacted at

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