She taught physics in Year 6. She may have done in Year 7 too. (Except for Ms Fritchley’s English classes, I seem to have no memories of Year 7.) But Ms Mallika was extremely significant in my life in Year 6, when she was also the class teacher.
The death announcement says that she was lovely, tall, and elegant, and also that she was well groomed. She probably was all that, but what struck me about her looks was that her forehead shone for some reason, and on it she wore a big bindi.
She did not come across to me as a warm and affectionate teacher, but she was fair in her dealings. Two incidents stand out.
She made me a Library Squad leader. She noticed that I was the first person to raise my hand to be on the “library squad,” which was one of the leadership roles in every class, albeit the least prestigious. Many others raised their hand too; I was just a tad faster, and she could have easily picked a child who was more popular.
She put me in the dance team. When the inter-class dance competition was announced, she came up with the plan that we should do a Russian folk dance and that as a starting point, everyone in the class who was already in Mrs Hunter’s Russian Folk Dance club would be in the dance. I felt that she was taken aback when she realised that I was in the Russian Folk Dance club too. But unlike some other times when teachers had set me aside to pick a favourite child, Ms Mallika did not do that. So I had the joy of being in the dance team that went on to win the competition and later performed for other occasions too.
Of course, there was the time when I asked for her permission to leave the class to talk to the principal Dr Kashiram on what I thought was a life-and-death matter (perhaps a story for another post), but she would not let me go. I did not see any way other than to jump out of the window when she was not looking. And when I returned via the door after having spoken to “Doctor,” Ms Mallika was surprised but held her peace.
I thank God for having had Ms Mallika as my teacher.