For the past 16 years, Jayalalithaa had been sending sweets to the students on 24 February, her birthday.

Bishop Cotton School in Bengaluru fondly remembers Old Girl Jayalalithaa
news Jayalalithaa Wednesday, December 07, 2016 - 08:49

As students walked into the Bishop Cotton School in Bengaluru on Tuesday morning, they were met with large hoardings of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalaithaa in the campus. 

Jayalalithaa was not just the Chief Minister of a neighbouring state to them, but a former student who had fond reminiscences of her alma mater. Tuesday saw the teachers, students and staff praying for the repose of her soul in the course of a special morning assembly convened in her memory.

Jayalalithaa studied in the school from Class 2 to Class 4. She left in 1957. It was however only in 2000 -43 years later- that that Jayalalithaa could reconnect with them. Many remember her as a shy and studious girl who used to participate in cultural events. 

Speaking to The News Minute, Sarayu Perumal -president of The Old Girls' Association of Bishops Cotton School- says:

"Many of her classmates and teachers remember Jayalalithaa as a quiet student, bright and well-versed in English. She had started learning Bharatnatyam at the age of three, and performed in the school’s cultural programmes." 

Dr Stella Samuel -who served as Principal from 1999 to 2005- recalls that it took her almost six months to trace Jayalalithaa’s journey at the school. 

“Being a Chennaite, I was aware that Jayalalithaa had studied for a brief time at Bishops. When I took charge as the Principal, I was driven by this eagerness to trace her days at the school. With the help of a few former teachers, I was able to dig out old class photographs. Interestingly, one of her classmates who worked at the school, was unaware that she had once upon a time shared a classroom with the TN CM,” chuckles Dr Stella.

Her hard work paid off, when the school -under her guidance- brought out a compilation of eminent personalities who had studied in its portals. The book was duly sent to Jayalalithaa too. 

Jayalalithaa generously reciprocated by starting a tradition -since 2000- of sending sweets every year on her birthday -24 February- without fail for the past 16 years.

The school would hold a special assembly on the day, and pass on the tradition to new students. A video of the students and staff wishing her on her birthday would then be sent to her. The Principal would also personally get in touch to convey their love. 

"We eagerly wait for the sweet-packets every year. More than the fact that we get chocolates, we appreciate that she actually remembers to send them every year. Looking at her and all that she has achieved inspire us to be all that we wish to be, irrespective of what other people think about us," gushes Niharika Reddy, a Class 10 student.

Sarayu hopes that the school continues to keep the tradition going: "The school will definitely miss her. I'm sure the school would want to remember her alive, so 05 December -the day she died- does not hold any meaning for us. Amma is still alive in the hearts of the people of Tamil Nadu and the students of our school.” 

"Jayalalithaa is not just Tamil Nadu's Amma, she is Amma even for us," chip in some non-teaching staff. The alumni and teachers of the school have a condolence meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The school had always hoped that Jayalallithaa would one day be able to visit in person, but with her passing away, this is one hope that shall remain unfulfilled.