Visiting down Memory Lane of Little Flower School
By: Dr. W. Ibempishak Devi
The first day of my school some fifty years or so ago, looked just like yesterday when my cousin, Satyabhama and myself were led to the building adjacent to the office of Indian Airways, Gandhi Avenue. The building itself of AT type construction is now gone and in its place stands the RCC type building of Nirmalabas School. In our time too we were told that Nirmalabas was the name of the building, and a sign board with the name was fixed on top for people to see and read.
When we were led to the classroom our class friends both boys and girls were already there in school uniforms. Each had been given a pair of a table and a chair to suit the size. It was a captivating sight. The school I which I studied earlier for two years provided for us desks and benches and our legs could hardly reach the ground. The school situation gave the proper motivation to learn and work hard as befitted a student of the school.
I can still remember the early days of my first year in Little Flower. A cute looking Miss took our English class. She usually wore lovely modest looking frocks and had a thick crop of black hair. I saw someone new to our place, someone who did not know our Language, coming to teach us, we were not taught the alphabets first.
The beginning pages of our English book consisted of words of two or three letters. She pronounced the words with spelling and we repeated after her – at, pat, hat, sat, rat, mat etc. The objective was to distinguish one sound from the other – here the consonant sounds. I had already acquired some symbols of some sounds in Manipuri from my first school. So I put Manipuri corresponding letters under p, h, s, r, m, etc. She looked at me when I responded correctly with the right articulation of word at her spelling. I felt odd and shy inspite of her approving looks. We were lucky to have such model teachers.
We were very few then and we were minutely observed by our teachers in the way we sit, stand, write or articulate the words. When writing I used to bend low over my writing. Miss Mariam brought a foot length scale to prop my temple over the table. She made me sit upright too. There are more anecdotes about us two. She told me to tie my shoulder length hair into a pony tail or bunch. Instead I tied a knot of the ribbon in the hair in front on the right side of the parted hair. She brought out a bundle of rope and placed it on my table to tie my hair. Embarrassed, I threw the rope out through the door.
In an instant I had to take position in the right corner of the room for my misbehaviour. I was not given any harsh word or corporal punishment. There were happy and encouraging moments too. One day when I was reading in class IV Miss Mariam told me to bring my father. My brother came instead. I did not know what the talk was about. The next day I had to stay back after school. After class Miss Mariam taught me the art of presenting Address for the Parents Day of the School. Since then it became my duty to present Address for every Parents Day.
There are too many incidents to be narrated in these few pages. I shall pick up those that can be regarded as a part of the history of Little Flower School. Our school was being shifted to the present site. All of us were agog with ourselves occupied in one activity or the other. Whatever we felt that we should do we did. Sisters and teachers encouraged us. We brought flowers to plant, collected shoe flowers from home and rubbed them on the blackboard plastered on the wall. Such coverage of activities outside classroom, was more than any curricular framework can design for CCE course. These are memories that can never be forgotten. I quote: from Wordswoorth's "Daffodils":
For oft when in my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flashed upon the inward eye
Which is a bliss of solitude
The experiences we received and the complacent feeling from our involvement were strong enough fortresses against the volley of rebukes for soiling our school uniform. As I said before, we were minutely observed by our teachers. After our shift to the new campus we had morning assembly everyday. Sr. Superior Cleofe, the Italian founder Superior of the school, usually conducted the assembly. We began the assembly with the song "God has created a new day.......", a short prayer followed by drill (the word we used for exercise). After the drill we marched to our respective classes in a row. Raju led our row, but I did not follow her crooked line. Miss Mariam must have watched from the verandah of the first floor. The next day I had to lead the line.
The number of students were very few then. Our Sisters wanted to rush us for the Matriculation Examination. We were given double promotion for the purpose. There were also certain practices the would never be dreamt of Class X had only five students, Bijoya, Rinteluangi, Binapani, Sunila and myself. While Class IX had nine students including my cousin. The two classes were put in the same room with one teacher for every period. The combination did not hamper the coverage of the syllabus or the performance of the students in the examinations. There were no complaints from any angle from the concerned teachers, students, parents or from any student organisation.
I belonged to the first batch to appear the Matriculation Examination under the Board of Assam. Some days before the filling up of the exam forms Sr. Ordylia used to tell us Girls go inside the chapel to pray for the Recognisation". We didn't know what recognition meant, however we prayed. The whole school looked anxious and worried for the only five of us. A month or two later Sr. Ordylia told us to thank the Lord for the Recognition. We went inside the chapel, knelt down and thanked the Lord. We didn't know the significance of Recognition then.
The burning educational issue of today is to incorporate lessons on human values in our curriculum Human values that need to be instilled into the minds of the learners now were already instilled by Little Flower School into the minds of its students some fifty years back through every word of the short Assembly Prayer:
"My dear Lord I thank You for all the good things You have given me.
Help me to be always good and truthful.
Bless my mummy, my daddy and all my dear ones.
Bless my motherland with peace and prosperity.
Protect and defend me from all evils."
GLORY be to
LITTLE FLOWER SCHOOL, IMPHAL
Dr. W. Ibempishak Devi
Board of Secondary Education, Manipur.