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Connecting to Cluny

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Mary lads and lasses here before your eyes,
Busy as the honeybees, happy butter-flies.
All the Cluny scholars from Pondy by the sea,
We love the blissful hours full of joyful harmony…
…thus goes my school song, my beloved St. Joseph of Cluny Girls Hr. Sec School’s song! If you are or were a part of the Cluny family, you’ll find yourself singing the lines that follow without much difficulty in remembering the lyrics, no matter how many years have gone by since you left the school. And as you do, you will see yourself in your mind’s eye, smartly clad in white shirt and blue pleated skirt with blue ribbons to hold your hair in place. The days when the notice board reads ‘class’ turn for the assembly’, you might have been on the stage singing the same; else, you’d have murmured it in files of three in the school ground with two stories of classrooms, painted white, enclosing you on all four sides. Your junior self might have envied the higher forms standing beneath the shade of the ‘Nannette Hall’ while your senior self would have indulged in whispers, in spite of Mrs. Stella Elias and Mrs. Mohana’s (PT mistresses) glares and whistles. I had been to my school’s alumni get-together on Jan 26, 2008 after re-reading Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series (the first time I read it was in my Class VIII A). Possessed by the glorious past moments and Blyton’s fictional narration, I returned back home with heaps and heaps of memories. I dedicate this article to my fellow Clunians who couldn’t make it themselves on 26th , but would love to look back and reminisce as well.

It was 6 o’clock in the evening when Meenakshi Pavithra (my buddy since KGs) and I decided to attend the alumni, though we were uncertain about the number of our batch mates turning up. After all, it has been 7 years since we walked out of our school, fully transformed from small children that we were when we began our Montessori to little ladies, ready to face the real world, outside the castle of our school. A stint for 14 years! Meena and I screeched a “Same Pinch” for co-incidently wearing the same colored salwars and proceeded further within the compound walls. I felt a familiar feeling of fondness and respect towards the school for making me the me that I am today. Rev.Sr. Agnes, our able and just principal of that time, used to proudly proclaim, “Cluny’s success does not attribute to meritorious performance alone. We aspire to groom the wards under our care to an overall round-up personality and bring out sensible women to the society.” Looking back at myself today, I amusedly wonder how successful has Cluny been in shaping me 🙂

We skipped the function happening inside the auditorium and walked along the empty higher secondary classroom corridors. It was here that we girls then took places, squatting our legs and resting over the pillars, pouring reverently over our books during the break between the mid-term exams. It was here that we sit for Friday prayer service (long assembly as we call it) as the whole schools drops into pin drop silence, barring the voice of the student reading the Bible verses or prayers. Just the memory of the silent ambience soothed the frayed nerves of us, software engineers. We tried to venture into one of the classrooms and leave mischievous notes to our juniors but alas, knowing us and our mischief, even the chalk pieces were well-hidden. We turned towards the primary corridors on the opposite side and smiled at the memory of ‘House-Step-Garden’, a well known childhood play, played up and down the steps leading to the classrooms.

Certain years of our school days were extra special than the rest. For instance, fourth and fifth standards were considered kids when we just move in to the main school from the primary block by the beach. We were in awe of all the big girls, hoping that we’d never had to get on their wrong side. We took pleasure in waiting on our teachers, pleasing them and being class leaders (ahem…known as ‘minders’) was indeed an honour. The next interesting phase came in class eight. Neither too small, nor too big, we were a bunch of confused early teens. Fan following for favorite and popular girls of the higher forms, looking out for teachers wearing plain colored sarees as a good omen and participating in every sport and cultural programs were some of the prevalent crazy acts. And finally, class eleven, sandwiched between the two tough years of public exams, we freaked out as bosses of the school, always called out for volunteering, monitoring, march-past and what not. At the mention of a trip to inter-school science exhibition, many of our girls would undo and redo their hairs and groom themselves again to impress the boys of Petit Seminar, another famous boys’ school of our town. 🙂

Meena and I were greeted by Mrs. Sheela, our English teacher at the end of the corridor. She was an old student of Cluny herself and continued at Cluny as a teacher. My God! What would you not give to listen to her English – grammar, accent and diction perfect as she taught us the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by John Keats. And then, Mrs. Vembo, maths teacher, exchanged greetings. By the time we climbed up the floors to Nannette hall, we had hi’ed and hello’ed to so many known faces just as we meet up with old relatives in wedding halls or other such occasions. Sr. Joel, the so soft sister and today’s vice principal was distributing candles to the past pupils and as I took the candle from her, I cheerfully remembered our class exploiting her geniality and kindness and making her cry with our monkey pranks.

A small prayer service was arranged to call upon Lord’s blessings and we stood listening with candles in hand. After singing the hymns, we moved to the main ground – the huge ground that has hosted sports’ day drills and parent’s day celebration for decades together now stood the same as ever with logs for campfire placed neatly at the centre as a treat for the alumni. Recent pass outs, mostly college students, rounded it up and sang nursery rhymes while we, professionals, with assumed maturity stood by the gallery watching the fun and clicking pictures, inwardly doing the soundless singing.

Apart from the curriculum, there were games room, band room, dining hall, garden, chapel, singing classes, needlework, dance classes, sports, karate, you name it and you have it. Who wouldn’t long to get back to that blissful innocent world that we once belonged to? As the day winded up, we had our talk with Sr. Emiliana. She was a teacher when we were at school and grew up along with us to be the principal today. Every year students come and go in batches of hundreds and I was surprised as she remembered us all by names and not just us, our friends too and enquired on them, leaving us feel so nostalgic. With her blessings, Meena and I bid bye to each other outside the school walls and retreated back to our homes with a pleasant satisfaction of still staying connected.

Cluny was my foundation, a strong foundation that had helped me wade through tough waters, taught me to face trials and adversities with the 3Ps – Patience, Perseverance and Prayers. I had got a lot out of my school and I owe it a great deal – someday I pledge myself to live on as one of Cluny’s successes and I WILL.

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13 thoughts on “Connecting to Cluny

  1. Hey Archu!! Awesome write-up!! You’ve splendidly captured moments from our school days. As I was reading, my heart once again swelled with pride at the thought of our school. It was wonderful and took me back to our school days. Having been together all through school, I can only too well connect to everything you say. It was just rewinding and watching the school days’ memories being played like a picture. Your description so well suits what I would want to say too. 🙂 You beat me to this post and I’m glad you did. It was an amazing read for me 🙂 Our school rocks, as always! It was like reminding me to say again, “Wow! what a wonderful school I’ve been to”. Thanks to our parents!

  2. hello,

    I hope you remember me…I was one admirer of your write-ups. lately even i have started writing please visit my page and have a read throught it… I must tell you one thing that you are also one of them who have inspired me to write..

    Thank you for inspiring me

    sorry i didnt find any way to contact you.. this is not a comment related to your story …

    But anyghing about the school is really wonderful to go through.. Its really good 🙂

  3. @god: right yaar! schooldays is when we had something that we dont have now – INNOCENCE! 🙂

    @meens: no matter how many times we talk or blog about school, we never get tired of it! seriously, it was a “wonderful” school…couldn’t agree more!

    @jai: “i was one of your admirers of ur write-ups”..was? mean u dont admire it anymore? 🙂 just kidding! thanks for ur kindness jai…comments from the readers is what that makes authors write more and more. so another thanks for staying put. i also read thru some of ur blogs…so u r a budding writer urself. will bookmark ur page myself and follow up. keep reading and keep writing! 🙂

    @aekta: our school would always be there. there are more aluminis to follow. try to make it next time 🙂

  4. Hi! Very nice write up…took me down memory lane too :). Our school song goes such…

    Merry lads and lassies here…

    I hope to be able to see school again soon too!

  5. @radhika: grammatical error from a cluny student? my dear, thats bad! 🙂 (JK) Sure…school memories are indeed so innocent and interesting that i long to go back too.

  6. i waa thrilled to come upon this post. for past so mant years i’ve been trying to connect with my batche from cluny(1966-69). no success. today i keyed in the first lines of the school song, and lo and behold, i’m at your blog!!
    many many years your senior, but mebbe u can tell me how to go about getting an alumni member ship – the site or something.
    it was in my 11std(final yea metric) that the school shifted to lawspet.
    http://pareltank.blogspot.com/2010/10/annual-fete-and-cashew-nuts.html this is my blog on cluny memories.have a couple of others too.

  7. @Anon, Sharmila: Thank u dears 🙂

    @Kochuthresiamma:I’m Archana here. I am currently settled in Bangalore but I was a Cluny student from 1987 to 2001, complete 14 years including my KGs.. I’m so glad that my blog helped you connect back to Cluny. When I left school in plus 2, we were asked whether we wanted to become an alumini member and those who agreed got a membership. I don’t know how it works today. Maybe you can try contacting our present principal Sr. Emiliana. There used to be a website for Cluny, Pondicherry by name http://www.sjcluny.com but I don’t see it now. I don’t know whether they have changed the domain name of pulled down the site.

    Cluny alumini students from all batches meet in the school campus in Lawspet every year on Jan 26, evening. I guess that would be nice time for you to connect again. You will never know., you might even meet up any of your batch mate 🙂 By the way, my mom was a Cluny student herself…don’t know exactly which batch. She says that she was there during Sr.Peter Claver’s days. I am damn sure that she must have been in school between 1966_69. Does the name Vyjayanthi ring any bell?

    Nice meeting you!

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