Of breaking the traditional mould

Of breaking the traditional mould

Of breaking the traditional mould

This photograph was taken in 1966, when I was in the last year of my school, Cluny Convent.

My beloved mother had a dream. Vani and I (Kasturi), her precious daughters, had to be educated in a convent school so that we could converse fluently in English.

In 1955, it was quite unheard of 'Kannadigas' wearing knee-high skirts sans flowers and 'kumkuma' and joining Cluny Convent. Our teachers were Irish nuns and my first glimpse of them left me frightened as they were red skinned with deep blue eyes, garbed from head to toe in white robes.

Mother Michael was red as a tomato and rotund, Reverend Mother Cecelia was tall and fair and Mother Lawrence had a ski jump nose. The then fees of Rs 10 per month was exorbitant, but no expense was too high to keep her dream alive.

Every day, just before 8 am,  we used to dash out of the door to catch our bus as Saigal's song played on Radio Ceylon. That was our cue. From Kumara Park to Malleswaram 15th Cross, we took the public bus from Swastik Talkies (now defunct) bus stop.

The bus fare was six 'kaasu' (a brass coin) at the time. The bus we took was number 9A, which went via Malleswaram Circle and Sri Rampuram.

At school, lunch break was the most awaited part of the day. 'Saranna' and 'mosranna' which were lovingly prepared by mother never tasted better.

Later on, the 'dabbawalas' started delivering them hot at the main gate. At 3.30 pm when classes were over, we used to rush to Sri Stores, located at 15th Cross, to buy five paisa-worth-'kadle kayi' to eat on the bus on our way back home.

I was in the fifth standard when tragedy struck us. My mother passed away.

She, who took great pride in my top girl badge and me being a class monitor, did not see me graduate from 11th standard.

She had never visited my school for PTA or any other reason. Her dream was kept alive in a strange way as I never spoke in Kannada or Hindi to my classmates.

I did form lasting friendships and kept in touch with my classmates. Some of them are Tulsi Prataprai, whose father smuggled her from Sind in a basket during Partition; Rajani Ghatage, who went on to become the CEO of a leading hotel; Sheila Karkal who did her MBA from IIM, Delhi; Revati Rangachar, a danseuse par excellence; and Ramani Bhat, former principal of BMS College.

There is also Asha Aroor, who published a runaway hit recipe book on Konkan cuisine, Radha Rajgopal, Jyothi and Malu Kitty.

After many years, I outdid my mother and sent off my only son Dilip to Canterbury, Kent for his schooling.

After spending many years in the US where my British English was strange, I have returned, residing very close by to my old school - Cluny.

I am very grateful for all the discipline we imbibed from our nuns. My quest now is to make up for the lost time speaking in Kannada, Hindi and learning scriptures in Sanskrit.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox