On the somber occasion of the 11th day of her demise, there was a prayer meeting held in Mata Ka Mandir, New Friends Colony, Delhi on Friday, 10th July 2015. After the rituals and songs/bhajans to the Almighty, asking for peace, requesting for mercy and wellbeing for all, people volunteered to speak a few words about her. Some of us could make it to the gathering and were whispering among each other who would walk up and pay tributes on behalf of all her students. I really wanted to. But I stopped myself. The only reason being, I knew what all to say. I knew how to say it. But I realized, if and once I start talking about her, I wasn’t sure where to stop. She was someone I had seen everyday for more than 10 years and seen her more than even my own parents. I wouldn’t know how to stop talking about her. Hence, on behalf of all students who could make it yesterday and all ex-Oakgrovians across the globe whom she touched, I thank Mr. Rakesh Sharma (her son-in-law), Mrs. Anuradha Sharma, Anant Misra and some more people who could say all that they could. I could not muster enough courage. (Un)fortunately, I could not resist for long, either. I called Arindam Burman on my way back home from the meeting and told him this though 

Hence, this could well be a long short story. Since this is about someone who came into my life at a time when I could not make much sense of most things in life. I had visited this place, up in the hills, where my sister (Jayanti Mallick Aditya) used to study. I wanted to go there too. I, of course, didn’t know the frights that await me. And this person was the first of the frights I got the day I landed in Oak Grove School.

Big Ma’am, she was called. And I figured very smartly, why? Because, I was at her waist’s height. She was so big and tall. That’s why. Simple. It was later, when I came to know that she was Big Ma’am and all other teachers were simply Ma’am. And much later, why exactly she was Big. Very few people can make a Big difference in your life and have a Big impact in living life the way it should. Very few people deserve to be called Big. She is one of the very, very few in my life.

Though many may think so, but whenever I think of Big Ma’am, the first few thoughts that come to me is never of a mother. She was never a mother to me. We had enough mothers around, taking care of us. She ensured we had enough mothering for us, always. She didn’t just take care of us. She looked over us. She was the head of my family.

Big Ma’am didn’t like long conversations. She was a person of few words. Or, so I thought  I used to think, being Big Ma’am, she is very senior to everyone else and hence has very few things in common to share and speak about. During the course of watching her through school days, from an 8 yr old to an 18 yr old, passing out from school, I realized, she wasn’t a person of few words. She was a person of apt words. She didn’t need many words to communicate exactly what she wanted to express. She knew exactly, what to say, how to say it and how much to speak. I suspect, though, she didn’t like repeating herself too often. Some of us had to bear the brunt of her very few repetitions, through a flash of her palms or through a smooth, well oiled, brilliantly maintained cane 

Technically, Big Ma’am was in my everyday life for two years, 1988-1989 (Cl IV & V) after which I went to Senior Boys School. But whenever I used to see her, specially, during our last few days in school, when we met her, every time, every every time I would feel the same fear, respect, awestruck, nervous, assured, love and loved and so much more, all in those few nanoseconds that she looked at me. Very few people can do that. I am lucky and feel good, I knew one such person. You live in me. You live in us, Big Ma’am. Always will.

– Kanishka Mallick (1996 Batch)


This tribute is a work by Kanishka Mallick. This content has been reproduced from a Facebook post on the Oak Grove School, Mussoorie Group by him on July 11, 2015.

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