1974 – in a corner of the 5th standard classroom, a girl, whom I can only describe as “teetering on the edge of obesity”, was trying to make sense of her new surroundings. She had just moved from the protected environment of a Girls’ Convent to the seemingly more unruly co-education scene. There seemed to be boys everywhere. Some of them, she thought, were surely laughing at her. And then one of the girls looked at her and smiled. The world seemed to change a little – for the better. And then the teacher walked into the class, called the newcomer over to her desk, looked into her eyes, and giving her the kindest smile, welcomed her into the fold. With that smile and those words, the teacher magically lifted a burden from the newcomer’s shoulder. In fact, it was perhaps at that moment that I stopped being the newcomer. The new place began to feel like a place I could be comfortable in – a place that I could call my own.

Over the years that I spent in DBMS, the feeling of being part of a family continued to grow. Perhaps none of us really realized how much the place and the people in it meant to us until it was time for us to leave school. I still remember the gut-wrenching sense of leaving behind a vital part of myself as I collected my mark-list – for one last time from my principal.

Today when I look back at my years in DBMS, my memory immediately wraps itself around the deep sense of togetherness that we shared among friends and staff members. And then of course there are those little vignettes that strike roots in your consciousness, unobtrusively moulding the person you eventually turn out to be. One of these was of our Principal, whom, we for some reason called Big Sir, picking up a stray piece of paper from the corridor and putting it into a nearby dustbin. Or the day when he came across an “I love you” message scribbled all over the blackboard in one of the classrooms, and had this message for the perpetrator of this crime during the morning assembly: Love is a beautiful feeling and we’re very glad that you’re letting it overflow all over the place, but there is absolutely no way we can allow you to let it overflow onto our blackboards.” There was laughter from the entire school, but no one really missed the message—no messing around with school property.

Today, when someone asks me what DBMS means to me, I flounder for words. What can I say about a place that is so much a part of what I am? Yes, I can say that DBMS taught me to believe in myself; DBMS taught me to deal with success and failure with equanimity; DBMS taught me that life reserves its best treasures for those who explore it in its entirety. But having said all that, I know that I have still left a lot unsaid; a lot that — to use a well-worn cliché — can never be expressed in words. All I can say is that even today, I continue to draw strength from the memories DBMS has given me. I do believe that the universe was being exceptionally kind to me when it gave me a chance to be in such a wonderful place.

Renuka Varrier (ICSE 1980) did her Masters in English. She began as a newspaper journalist with Amrita Bazar Patrika, Jamshedpur, and later, Indian Express, New Delhi; then moved to general publishing; eventually got lured into the world of ITES; currently working as an E-Learning Consultant with Brainvisa Technologies.