I was at my candle light ceremony 6 years ago. With tears in my eyes, all I could think of, was how badly I was going to miss my teachers and friends. The school principal did not feature in the list then. She was just a figure of authority to lead us during prayers and on special functions like sports days and pageants. I remember all the teachers used to repeatedly warn us, as an extreme measure, that our naughtiness would be reported to Mrs. Manoharan (our school principal) if we did not mend our ways. That was enough for us to fall into line. I cannot recall even a single incident when Mrs. Manoharan scolded my class or me. Even when she should have been furious with us, I just saw her very sad at the prospect that her students were not up to the mark and standards she had set for us. Today I miss Ma’am the most.
Mrs Manoharan had called a special session with the whole 12th standard after our batch had conducted the farewell assembly for the entire school. At that time, I am very sorry to say, it had seemed like a boring lecture. But I thank the forces above that I had been one of the many students who had listened to Ma’am speak that day and one of those few students who had understood what ma’am wanted to teach. That day ma'am had spoken to us just as I imagine my mother will when I get married. With all the love in her heart she wanted to prepare us for what was to come and protect us from the evils that an experienced life had warned her about. She mapped out the way our lives were likely to take. She warned us about the people we would encounter. And as a true guide she even told us how we were not to lose our character and keep our morals high.
Over the last six years I have done three years of graduation from Delhi university in Geography (Hons), two years of post graduation in mass communication from MCRPV and worked as an assistant director in a couple of documentary films, as a lifestyle reporter for a couple of lifestyle magazines and now I am working as a sub-editor for a website called mapsofindia.com. These six years have been the practicals for the theory that ma’am taught us in those 2 hours on 29th January 2001. The best and the most valuable lessons of my life.
- We were told people will run blindly in the direction where money will pull them.
- College will spell freedom but having a sensible head on the shoulders will be a blessing.
- The access to vices would be abundant so would be the peer pressure and appeal but here is where our self restraint and morality were to come handy.
- People we had known since childhood were going to develop personalities which would be shocking.
- Relationships with the opposite sex were to be furthered for the correct reasons and taken seriously.
- The education- academic and moral that we had been given at school would give us the foundation on which our personalities would develop and be recognized in the world.
- She did not tell us only about the bad things. Her best teaching was that world is a beautiful place and it is up to us to find that beauty and enhance it.
These words stayed with me. Thank God they stayed with me. Over the years I have interacted with hundreds of people. Many have been examples of what I would have become if I had not paid heed to Mrs. Manoharan’s words. Thank God I paid heed to her.
Over the years I have missed school immensely. Missed my teachers, the camaraderie I shared with friends, the morning assemblies, hymn singing, the recess periods, mass PT and house scarves and batches. But most of all I have held very close to my heart the words of wisdom Mrs. Manoharan had given on the 29th of January 2001. Sadly it took me six years to express my gratitude to ma’am for the immense care she took and the motherly love she bestowed on me that day. I hope and pray that all the children of STS can be blessed enough to hear and understand the meaning of that special farewell session for years to come. Those words have often helped me choose the right path when I saw other friends going astray on the same crossroads. When in confusion I tend to ask two questions of myself:
Will my mother approve of this?
Will Mrs. Manoharan approve of this?
The answer to these questions is enough to guide me.
Principles that my principal gave me are a legacy that I would one day want my children to own and respect.