Reminiscences by Laila Muraleedharan, a student of the first batch of All Saints’ College, which is celebrating its golden jubilee

The year 1964 was special because three new colleges were born in the capital city and its outskirts – All Saints’ College, St Xavier’s College and SN College, Chempazhanthy. I had finished my class ten then from Holy Angels’ Convent and we girls, especially those who were good in studies, were encouraged to join All Saints’ when it started functioning on our school campus on July 6.

I was the first one in the family to get a first class in the class ten exam and expectations were high when I joined All Saints for the pre-degree course.

Being the first batch came with some advantages as well. We had the opportunity to place a few requests before our teachers! Our requests were – no uniforms; encouragement for sports; good magazines and books to read. The teachers accepted all our demands.

I took the first group, which had Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. I still remember that my roll number was 18. My ambition was to do something related to Physics, like obtaining a doctorate, perhaps inspired by a science exhibition I saw at University College while in class eight.

Margaret P. Paulose was our Principal and vice-principal was Sister Mary Alice. If I’m not mistaken, there were around 60 students in my class. Of course, we didn’t have to wear uniforms and we all came in sari or skirt and blouse. In fact, a majority of the girls wore skirt and blouse.

But when there was assembly, we had to follow a dress code. Those who wore saris, had to wear white ones. The colour of the blouse varied, depending on the subjects we had chosen. Those who had taken the first group had to wear bottle green-coloured blouse and those in the second group had to wear red-coloured blouse. Students in the other two groups had to wear Ramar blue or yellow coloured-blouse.

There was little excitement of being a college student, since we were on the same campus where we had been school students. I was a student of Holy Angels’ since class six. So, there was nothing new or exciting in terms of the ambience. Also, initially it was quite difficult for me to follow the textbooks in English because I had studied in the Malayalam medium at school.

Wonderful teachers

But then, we had a wonderful team of teachers. Math was my favourite subject and it was taught by Varghese sir, who had come from Warrangal. Parvathy teacher, who was with Government College for Women, taught us chemistry. Meenakshy teacher, Sister Alice, Sister Amata, Sthanu Bai (who had a triple MA)… I remember all of them. In those days, teachers who were married were not employed by the management.

Sports was given importance and we had two physical education teachers – Vijayalakshmi and Cicilyamma. The campus was small, but we did make use of the available facilities to play badminton, basketball and other games. However, other than college day celebrations, we hardly had any event or programme on the lines of inter-collegiate contests.

There was a great deal of importance on discipline, but the management was not unnecessarily strict. Our teachers were very friendly with us. They were experts in the subject and taught us well.

But at the end of our studies, some of the students really got a shock. During the final year examination, the Math paper was so tough that many students failed! The very same students got high marks in other subjects. It was disturbing for our teachers, Varghese also.

By the time the college was shifted to the present campus in 1967, all of us had passed out. I haven’t been to the present campus. I feel proud that the college is all set to celebrate its golden jubilee and I am a part of its glorious history.

And it is from this girls’ only campus that I entered the College of Engineering Trivandrum, where I opted for electrical engineering. My first experience of studying in a co-ed college became all the more interesting because in the first year there were only two girls.

The next year, I was the only one studying with 27 other boys!

Thus I’ve been able to live two entirely different phases as a student.

(As told to ATHIRA M.)

(A column to commemorate the platinum jubilee of the University of Kerala. Eminent teachers and people from different walks of life talk about their student days in various colleges under the University.)