It was with much sadness that I learnt of the passing of Mrs Katary in Bangalore on 28th April. Our family was on vacation and on 27th April I received a message from a school friend, in which she mentioned that Mrs Katary and her husband were in road accident and that she was critically injured. It was so unfortunate that she did not pull through.
Mrs Katary was a teacher at Baldwin Girls’ High School for many years. In Std VI (1981-82) she was my class teacher and taught Home Science. This was the year that I was elected by my classmates to be the Class President (one of the class prefects), so my interaction with her was frequent. Kind at heart, yet strict, she was an excellent teacher and very approachable. Home Science was a fun subject with most topics covered with life experiences. As with most of our teachers, she was always impeccably dressed, with a dab of makeup and jewellery coordinated to match her sarees. If memory is right, before we finished Std X, Mrs Katary left Baldwins and moved to the Gulf.
Neela Chandrashekar, as my mom (Rukmani) called Mrs Katary, was known to her several years earlier. They joined Baldwins at the same time, in 1966, and there was a picture taken for the school records. With the passing of Mrs Katary, mom says she is the only one in the picture still alive.
L-R: Doreen Davis (office staff), Neela Chandrashekar (teacher), Helen Swamidass (teacher), Rukmani Nair (teacher), Barbara Webster (games teacher)
The new recruits became good friends. Mom fondly recalls Neela’s generosity in those days, always willing to help the less fortunate in whatever way she could. When mom’s wedding was fixed, it was Neela who went shopping with her, for her wedding sari. They continued to be in touch even after mom left Baldwins. Living in the same Richmond Town-Shantinagar area, they used to bump into each other now and then. And after I was admitted in the school, mom used to meet her along with many of her former colleagues.
Many years later, when Mrs Katary returned to India and was planning to start a nursery school, she had visited mom to see the nursery that she was running. One of the last times that I saw Mrs Katary was way back in 2003, when she visited us after my father died. Mom tells me that they occasionally talked on the phone, but the last time wasn’t in the recent past. She was very sorry to see the obituary in the papers.
Mrs Katary will live on in our memories. Strength to uncle, Ashika, Akash and their families. May her soul rest in peace.