This morning I woke up dreaming of childhood Thursdays when we used to have the day off from school. Yep – our school had Thursdays off! No idea why. Saturdays were half-days and of course, Sunday was off too. I studied in Little Flower Primary School, Gundawli, Andheri East, Mumbai. The school had Kinder Garten to Std IV back then. Now it is Little Flower High School! I wonder if Ms Rosy is still there.

I remember how I used to clean out my clothes cupboard every Thursday and then help mom swab the house. I so loved to play with the wet mop. We occupied the second floor in our building (which grandpa built)

Little Flower is special because my mom also studied there as a child, along with her cousins. My grandmother’s family had a huge estate with bungalows in Telly Gully called Sri Ram Nivas. She had 4 siblings and a remarkable mother. Don’t know much about the great grandfather. My grandmother, Mangalam, was a terrific person. Sharp mind. Got married at 3. They couldn’t find the bride at one point because she had slipped into a vat of rice porridge in the kitchen! Imagine that! Ok..am digressing…back to the school. The same teacher, Ms Kumud Jawale, who taught mom was my class teacher too in Std IV!

Later, when I had to be admitted into Mount Mary School, Bandra, Mumbai, Ms Kumud lovingly just took over as my guardian (the rest of our family was scattered in Chennai, etc. and there were some turbulent times). I still remember how she took me shopping to Dadar, near where she lived to choose cloth for my clothes and night dresses. I was to stay as a boarder in Mt. Mary’s and they had given us a list of what I needed to take. 6 night dresses, 6 dresses, 6 petticoats, etc. etc. Uniforms were to be bought from the school. Well, Ms Kumud could have easily taken the money from mom and bought all the stuff. But no – that is not what she did. She took me shopping, bought my choice of cloth – and we came back home. She spent the next two days toiling away at her sewing machine, stitching everything in the patterns I wanted. I just cannot imagine anyone else doing that, except my mother.

Sigh. What lovely memories. Ms Kumud’s family was also wonderful to me. I do have a couple of pictures from back then – I’ll scan them soon and add them to the post..  Her brother, Anil Jawale, who was a photographer used to let me sit up and watch him develop negatives in his home lab. Every night, a part of the kitchen would get converted into a dark room. I really loved those times. Ms Kumud is no more – and I found this out in 1997 when I called up the school and spoke to Ms Rosy. For each birthday, until I was in Std IV, Ms D’Abro, who lived across from the school would help mom choose pretty lace and other material to stitch frocks for me. I still remember the gorgeous red lace frock, blue lace frock – all nicely embellished with satin ribbons. They all adored mom and me. In fact, during a particular period I had some kind of deficiency and the doctor had advised mom to give me eggs. Our family is strictly vegetarian and there was no question of doing it at home. When mom told her colleagues, immediately from the next day onward, Ms Rosy or Ms Celine would boil an egg in the staff room during recess, and make me eat it.

Sorry – I had to take a ‘cry’ break there.

When people would sympathize with my mom about her being a single parent – she always said she was a lot luckier than most people. I  may not have had a father – and even his family may have rejected mom and me – but we had wonderful folks at mom’s place – four doting uncles and a loving granma. What more could I ask for?

Vidya Sury