For the last one year, we’ve been working together with Vasant Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Varanasi, where my Mom’s journey began as a student to her being a prolific Hindi writer and then flourishing as a teacher. She entered as a student in 1953 and exited as a teacher in 1969.
After my Mother’s death, when my brother & I went to Varanasi to immersing her ashes, right from the airport we first dropped in at her school which was on the way to the Benares Ghats. Interestingly, my brother studied in the Montessori section for a couple of years when my father went to Germany and only the 2 of them were there in India. It was my first visit to her school! Looking back, I guess in the trip, we were trying to get the picture of her childhood and construct a vista of her past. The Principal and a few teachers were there to meet us. While they did not know us in person, thanks to a few of my mom’s friends, we could get connected with the current management.
The school had an absolutely pristine set up- with a lot of trees, greenery, and calmness. It was peaceful for the soul. We started exploring with the Principal a few ways that we can support the school and the children as a way of keeping my Mother’s memories alive. This was an institution with children from an extremely poor background and the infrastructure also basic.
We continued our dialogue for the next few months. We had a few AHA moments in the journey. At times one realizes, that you start a journey with an end objective in mind, and mid-way you learn, that the path can be different than what you envisaged. Our wish was to do something in the field of Hindi. And one day I got a call from the school if we can support them to buy a water cooler in the peak summer since the students were still challenged on cool drinking water. Frankly speaking, we were a bit hesitant for a minute, but very quickly my father realized that what “they need” is possibly what would give them the “highest joy” and he said a yes. And lo! Once we supported them, in a few weeks, we got WhatsApp of pictures of a couple of water coolers in the school and they had graciously called out my mom and as the Principal said later ” Every time these girls have water, they think of your mother with happiness”. Who would have imagined that drops of cool drinking water can be such a happiness multiplier!
We continued our engagement and we then set up the Hindi Library in the school and a Fund for Scholarship for the Topper in the 10th & 12th Std every year being supported via the Shobha Ghose Memorial. At the event of the Hindi Divas on the 14th of September, the scholarships were given to the students and the library was inaugurated. Now, they also have a picture of my Mom in their Staff Room in the school, where she continues to remain with the teachers forever.
We remain grateful to the management of the school, Principal- Anuradha Mam, Anupama Varshney, Hindi Teacher- Rekha Jaiswal & Shakuntala Ji for the opportunity to get associated with the school.