Mrs Shirodkar :
September 11, 2019 turned out to be an exceptional day in my life. 23 years after I retired from St Mary’s school after having worked there for 25 years, I was requested to take on a short, part time assignment of teaching French to Class X boys.
I accepted and willingly so. I was ,only, too happy to go back to the place that had brought me so much joy over the years.
I feel it is an event of rare occurrence that deserves recording.
Memories,they say, fade with the passage of time.
Well, mine came alive again. May be ,because they happen to be my fondest memories.
As I stepped on to the sprawling grounds of the school, I couldn’t but help remembering my very first day in August of 1970. After completing my B.Ed , I had no plans of teaching at a school. However, I was requested by the acting principal,Fr.Alban D’Mello to at least give it a try. I had never taught in a school before and the prospect of facing 35 ‘Devils’ in senior classes was quite intimidating. I had already decided to work for a short time as there was an urgent need for a teacher at that point in time, examinations being round the corner.Little did I know then that this temporary stint was going to blossom into a relationship of 25 fulfilling years.-Thanks to this glorious institution, with its principals,( 9 in all ,during my tenure) my colleagues and most importantly the students – those assumed ‘Devils’ who kept me young and taught me to forget my worries while in their midst.
I was drawn to them through their sheer spontaneity, their clear heartedness ,and their quality of bonding with their colleagues no matter how different they were from each other socially or economically.
Once they entered the portals of this prestigious institution they were all St.Marians.
In the classroom , no two days were alike .There were new challenges to deal with , and unexpected situations that required thinking on one’s feet. I admit there were moments of anger, disappointment and frustration for me in the classroom but these emotions were quite shortlived. The larger picture left me with pride at being given the opportunity of guiding these endearing students .Some of their qualities were exemplary .They displayed a great deal of maturity on many an occasion. What I remember distinctly was that their bonding with their colleagues was so steadfast that in a situation where one of the group given to mischief was wrongly pulled up ,he would never give the real wrongdoer away.
Also towards their parents they displayed the same loyalty .Sometimes parents were at fault for the lapse on the child’s part but the child quietly took the rebuke from the teacher without blaming the parent. Speaking of rebukes , I rarely came across a student who sulked or held rancour in his heart because I had scolded him.
During the annual Inter House Dramatics Competition which brought me in closer contact with the boys outside class , it was heartening to notice their backstage interactions. Rivalry was fierce as they were competing for the coveted trophy for their House but it was rivalry of the wholesome variety. Participants of one House were helping other Houses behind the scenes with props or costumes Such is the spirit of Healthy Competition that this institution fosters.
Many of my students have achieved remarkable success and renown in their chosen fields at home and abroad but when I meet them at the annual alumni dinners, or even elsewhere ,it is heartening to see the abiding culture of their school shine through. They are, one and all, humble, respectful and caring .
The Old Boys’ Association is very active and the alumni do a lot to help retired teachers in offering their expertise as well as financial help if need be .
Their bond with their alma mater remains intact.
Cut to 11th September. : On this day, while at school ,every location brought back a kaleidoscope of memories . just to mention one or two -., the church which I visited religiously every morning before beginning my day , the assembly hall where the morning assembly presented a scene of immaculately turned out smart blue tyed boys , with the prefects ,in a show of authority, pulling out a boy or two for shoes not polished and ,of course, the afternoon assembly which left you wondering if the uniform was, originally ,white in colour. The playground had played its role effectively! Then the canteen with students almost falling over each other to get their delicacy of a kheema pao during recesses and finally the grounds coming alive with the mad scramble for the buses at end of day.
These and so many other memories made me nostalgic .
The school occupies a very special place in my heart and am grateful to be given a brief second innings .
Hurrah for St.Mary’s!