When 17 women from across the country gathered in a house on Warren Road in Mylapore on Wednesday, it seemed like a travel back in time. While reunions are not uncommon, this one was a tad different.
Students from the 1952 batch of Srirangam Girls High School in Tiruchi were thrilled to catch up with their classmates after a gap of nearly 60 years. Age may have caught up with their bodies but has not touched their minds. Squeals of joy and hugs followed whenever the alumni recognised each other.
For some, it was the first meeting after leaving school. Kalyani Raghavan who organised the gathering said, “We studied together from class VII to X. School days were fun and I travelled in a bullock cart to school with my siblings. Friends called me ‘December’ Kalyani as my mother wouldn’t let me step out without flowers in my hair.”
Ms. Raghavan has been hosting reunions since the past few years, but this time, it was on a larger scale. She also persuaded her friends to wear similar saris that she had designed.
As the ladies shared stories of how school ties were renewed, the gathering turned interesting. While a few had bumped into each other at music concerts over the years, some had heard about each other through their children. Many came from outside the State to be a part of the reunion. While Padma Raghavan came down from Bangalore, Shantha flew in from Pune and Lakshmi N. came from Mumbai to spend time with their old buddies.
Recalling their schooling days, V. Lalitha said, “We were only known by our roll numbers… 65, 330, 307. Many girls stopped studying after class VIII. Some of our classmates were married.” Many of them married almost immediately after school but got to travel a great deal before settling down in the city. R. Jambakalakshmi said schooling had made her bold and given her the confidence to travel.
In the days when there were many restrictions on girls’ education, some like Lakshmi N. managed to become graduates. “My father decided to let me pursue a bachelor’s degree in spite of opposition from the family. He wanted me to be independent as my sister had become a widow at a young age,” she said.
Janaki Krishnan said, “The male teachers never directed their gaze at girl students. But they were very strict and threw chalk pieces at those who jabbered in class. But that did not stop us from having fun.”