Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Queen and I

In memory of my Principal, Mrs. Edna Revis

April 2, 1931 – November 11, 2011

I remember how I felt the first day I went to school. I was scared, nervous and excited. Though I don’t recall what I actually did the first day, I do remember what I got for lunch, Tomato sandwiches in a brown paper bag.

The school kids were whispering about the new Principal, Mrs. Edna Revis and I remember feeling extra special because she and I had joined Girls High School (G.H.S) at the same time.

In the beginning I saw her only during assembly where she’d confidently stride in and in her soft but clear voice would say ‘Good Morning Everybody’ and the entire school would chorus back ‘Good Morning Mrs. Revis’.

My favorite part was the end of each assembly, when she’d bless the school saying ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of The Holy Spirit be with us now and forever more. Amen’.

The first time we actually interacted was when I was in grade II. During the dress rehearsal of the concert, I was back stage, and I kept sticking my head out through the stage curtains, oblivious to the fact that I could be seen by everybody in the audience.

Suddenly she appeared out of nowhere and said ‘Everybody can see you. From now on no peeking or else I will tie you up.’ She sounded stern but the twinkle in her eyes said otherwise.

A couple of days later, on the evening of the concert, she came to our dressing room where I was sitting down, fully dressed in my costume, wearing a crown. The minute I saw her, I looked away, avoiding eye contact. But she walked straight up to me, smiled broadly and exclaimed ‘How lovely you look! What a beautiful crown! Wow!’.

Hearing that, all of my silly anger melted and I fell head-over-heels in love with her. It was very sweet of her, to bother to go out of her way and make up with a disgruntled 7-year old.

She actually cared about kids, otherwise, which Principal would make an effort to make up with a silly seven year old. But she did and made me feel so special that my heart swelled up with pride and joy.

I was in G.H.S for eleven years and had a great time. Mrs. Revis was very strict about the curriculum but made sure there were plenty of co-curricular activities throughout the year. We had Elocution, Debates, Concerts, Fetes, Sports Day etc, all of which were very well planned and executed under her leadership. And boy, did we have a blast.

All the costumes for the concerts and sports were procured or stitched by the school or the teachers. The parents were never burdened. All they had to do was turn up.

She was very particular about the teachers she hired and we were taught by some of the best teachers in the entire city.

Mrs. Revis was classy, soft spoken, elegant but with a fist of iron. She ran the school perfectly. Even when she ticked off anybody she did it with class and restraint. We never ever saw her lose her temper or scream.

She’d hold warm farewell ceremonies for the teachers who’d retire and would give the entire day off to the students to present a mini concert of sorts with skits, dances and presents to honor those teachers.

Our School had a hostel, where Mrs. Revis made sure she’d hire the very best warden, nurse and cooks. The dormitories were always neat and the sick bay was like a peaceful sanctuary.

I don’t know if all the students know, but Mrs. Revis was a great foodie and knew her Pulao from her Biryani. So it was no surprise that the food served to the hostel residents was both nutritious and delicious.

I have eaten in many hostels in Mumbai and the Best Hostel Food Award in my mind went to two hostels. One was the G.H.S Hostel run by Mrs. Revis and the other one was in Mumbai, the Wilson College Hostel called The Mackichan Hall.

In all of the 11 years I spent in G.H.S, under her watch, not one student got seriously hurt. Her surprise rounds kept every student and even the teachers on their toes. Under her guidance G.H.S became one of the best schools in the State.

A very strong person, Mrs. Revis never hesitated to make a single decision no matter how hard it was. Calm, kind, polite and with nerves of steel she could handle any kind of trouble without even batting an eyelid.

Our curriculum was one of the best and under our Principal we learned a lot and got to explore our talents, strengths and weaknesses.

One of my strongest memories of her was when I was late for my I.S.C.E exams by half an hour. When I reached the school, Mrs. Revis was standing outside the school gates, alone, waiting for me, worried that I would miss my exam. I was so touched, I almost cried.

I live in Mumbai now and every time I impress somebody, they usually ask where I did my schooling from and are shocked to hear that I went to a school called G.H.S in Allahabad and not some fancy prep school abroad. That’s when I thank God for my beloved Principal, Mrs. Edna Revis under whose guidance I was put through fire, moulded, polished and pushed to reach my potential.

I remember the time when our school had its 125th Anniversary and Mrs. Revis pulled out all the stops. It was celebrated with a bang for about a week with shows, dances, musical nights, an enormous cake cutting ceremony and the entire school sitting down to lunch together. It was the happiest week of my life.

This year when the school had its 150th Anniversary, just like other alumni, I was also asked to write my thoughts about G.H.S.

I couldn’t pen down a word because for me, G.H.S was synonymous with Mrs. Revis. She was the real spirit of the school. And since she was no longer the Principal, for me there was no G.H.S.

To those reading this, please don’t be a moron like me. Pick up that phone, call up the people you love, the ones who made a great difference in your life and tell them how much you care, instead of talking about it, like me, when it is too late.

Today I would do anything to put my arms around Mrs. Edna Revis, hug her till she is out of breath and tell her what I never had the guts to say earlier.

I’d say ‘Mrs. Revis, thank you for helping me become the person I am. I have never respected anyone as much as I have looked up to you and respected you. You are like royalty to me, the Queen of my heart. I love you very much and will love you till my very last breath.’

Her sudden departure has left me with a hole in my soul. I will never be the same again and neither will G.H.S.


dream a dream, live a life said...

Beautiful, beautiful article Amrita. Beautifully written, with your soul in it.

I never interacted with Mrs revis as much. To me, she was our school principal, distant, strict and detached. In fact, a few of us even blamed her for the debacle of Economics class in our batch - as she refused to get the teacher who could really really teach, instead saddling us with a lovely but incompetent teacher who ruined many of our final report cards.Unfortunately, many of us never got to see this side of her. I would have loved to know this Mrs Revis.

May she rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Amrita, very beautiful. Mrs Lyal and Mrs Rewis as principals have had such a great impact on my life. They laid a great foundation along with the many wonderful teachers they hired. God's word was always center stage for us. We are the legacy of the great GHS! The place that nurtured, moulded and sharpened us to the folks we are today!
Martha Verghese

najmawaziri said...

Am really touched Amrita,cause I can understand your feelings .I too am going through some of those emotions..........I can only say that I too live in Mumbai ,and people do get impressed and say good things about our schooling,somethings which I had not realized earlier and it really feels nice that we had the privilege to be a part of such an institute which had such wonderful teachers.......... we are definitely blessed.
may God rest her soul in peace

Anonymous said...

Well written and so true..... Tell that someone how you feel before it is too late. Love to you and your Mum, Junao.