Alma Mater Always Matters!

Having come across an invitation from the Reader’s Digest to all its readers in their June 2005 issue for one’s personal story of inspiration, I thought to myself, ‘what better place to begin than at the beginning where it had all started?’ So, PDA in hand, at precisely 8.00am one Saturday, I walked down my street along with school-going children, right up to the imposing Portuguese building of the convent where I had studied from Kindergarten through High School.

As it turned out, it was a trip down memory lane. Standing there in the light drizzle on that June morning, I was transported back in time to another dark, wet and cloudy morning in June 1974, the first day of my last year at school. On that memorable day, at the stroke of the school bell, a young nun had come bustling into the classroom with the brightest of smiles we’d ever seen, bursting with energy and enthusiasm, rearing to go! She introduced herself and announced that she would be our Class Teacher. She came over to each one of us and got us to introduce ourselves.

When finally we had all settled down, she opened her textbook and asked the class, “What do you know about William Wordsworth?” With a straight face, I stood up and said, “His words are worth listening to!”

And then everyone burst out laughing! Our team was born that instant! When I paid her a courtesy call recently, she said she still remembers it after over 30 years! To this day, the class of ’75 draws inspiration from her vibrant personality.
As I walked down the hallway and through the corridors, the laughter echoing in the recesses of my mind, it dawned upon me that there were quite a few elements about my Alma Mater that still served as wellsprings of inspiration for me: The chapel, where I had played my guitar for the first time in June ‘74 and developed my skills in the art of song-writing; the Christmas-tree, in the cloistered garden, which still seems to be growing – living proof that there is no limit to growth despite varying environmental conditions; the twin steeples which let me know from the window of a taxi cruising along the river bank on my return from an outstation business trip, that I am already home; the night-sky over the convent-the only place left in town where I can see stars that still look the same as they were when I gazed upon them with the eyes of a child as I still do; the convent bell that rings every evening at Angelus, reminding me that not a day goes by without the nuns kneeling in prayer before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima beseeching her to intercede for all the children that have ever passed through the portals of the school.

Paradoxically, it is here in the past that I return to in body, mind and soul each time I have to take my next step into a world that is at times dark, wet and cloudy.
The rain had stopped and the sun was out when I finally stepped out onto the busy street, PDA in hand, with not a word on its shiny glass screen but only the reflection of my brightly smiling face. It said it all!

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