My day today has been like the happy ending of a Manmohan Desai film. For over three decades I had been searching for my favourite class teacher in 4th and 5th grade, Ms Manju Ghildyal.
We were in love with her elegant demeanour, her crisp starched sarees, the way she enunciated English and her beautiful calligraphy. My friend Surbhi and I would imitate her hand writing and at one point, no one could distinguish between the three of us, because we all had similar handwriting!
I still remember Christina Rossetti’s poem,
“Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you: But when the leaves hang trembling, The wind is passing through. “
just because she taught it so well.
She also taught us science. And I’ll never forget ‘density’ because of the potato and beaker of water she brought in class, to show us how an object displaced certain volume of water (and also because the education officer who came on an inspection, called me a potato in that class!). Even her free periods were fun- one day she told us to search for anagrams, another day was word games like hangman. I simply cherished every moment that she spent with us.
There were three Manju Misses who taught us: Manju Ghildyal (now Manju Nautiyal), Manju Bhandari (now Manju Singhwi) and Manju Chachra (now Manju Chawla). The three of them were fresh into the profession of teaching and with their enthusiasm, always made learning fun for us. They always hung out together. I hope this post brings them together again.
I was in tears when she left our school. And I lost touch with her. All my efforts to search her through common friends and via the internet came to zilch as I did not know her married name. Until last night when in a casual conversation, Surbhi vaguely remembered the last name Nautiyal!
And then my Google search started again. Facebook threw up a list of over 15 Manju Nautiyals and left me confused. But then I remembered the mole over her lip and like a forensic investigator, everything fell into place! I sent her a message and a friend request, but became frantic when I didn’t get a response. Then more searches and I narrowed down on the correct school in Bangalore where she was teaching. Reached out to another classmate, Bharathi, in Bangalore. And by lunch, this lovely girl had gone to Malleshwaram and met Manju Miss!
I just spoke to her. She hasn’t changed at all. It was overwhelming, and we connected instantly! Incidentally today is my Dad’s 18th death anniversary. And I feel so blessed to have my favourite teacher Manju Nautiyal back into my life. It seems like a sign from the cosmos. Actually I agree with Paulo Coelho that when you want something really badly, the whole universe conspires to make it happen!