Mum in Mama school….late 40’s, spilling over into the 50’s

Mummy was transferred to The Mama Parsi Girls Secondary School in class III. Before this she went to the Saifiyah Girls School, a Dawoodi bohra community school.

I guess she didn’t really learn the English language all that well there, because she and her sister Maimuna had to be sent to Amy, Gooly’s sister, for tuitions.

Mummy on the left, Maimuna on the right

Gooly was my mother’s best friend in school, a Parsi. They’re still in touch, more than half a century later.

Gooly with Iskander Mirza's Iranian wife, Naheed begum. Mummy is standing next to her with cinched waist and curly hair

Mummy never really studied but she managed to have a good academic record, and won The Shield for Best Girl in class X.

Every morning they would have P.T, and then all the students stood outside class for inspection. Shoes, nails, uniform, hair, pins—anything amiss and there would be minus marks.

Lunch was in school, andΒ for Mum, that was the most wonderful time of the day.

There was a dining room with tables, and come lunchtime, around 1:30, the servants carrying tiffins with home-cooked food would start arriving by tram. She remembers a girl called NurJehan….very stylish….her lunch was very proper with all the works, including a placemat for her spot on the table. Mum thinks she was Khoja, which might explain the ‘properness’. The main reason for such an elaborate lunchtime was because the girls played games after classes were over, and hometime was at 5 o clock! The food would be shared all around, and Mummy remembers vividly how much her friends especially enjoyed the tiffin that came for her from her house….the food would all disappear in a flash πŸ™‚

Little Mummy was in class VI or VII when she auditioned for a show on Radio Pakistan and got selected, but the principal, Ms Thompson (a Goan Christian) didn’t allow her to to go for it, she doesn’t remember why or much care about it. It’s not like her hopes for a fabulous career in radio were dashed or anything. It was just for a lark, and like a lark, the opportunity flew away.

Games consisted of basketball, tennis and tenniquoits for Mum. She enjoyed the exercises they were put through, taking pride in her flexibility, and remembers the games cupboards were full of dumbbells and clubs which they used for their exercise routines while Mrs Jacob played lively tunes on the piano.

There were performances in formations for visiting guests and dignitaries and the girls wore special smart tunics for these. Mummy was a regular participant until she became self-conscious about her bare legs and stopped, and henceforth it was said in her report, ‘She does not take active part in sports, but she is a good spectator.’ πŸ™‚

Mummy was used to being the ‘favourite.’ She had great handwriting, very neat, and her books were made examples of, as were her drawings. She took pains over her diagrams and illustrations, and her Geography and Science journals were works of art so the teachers just loved her. She would always be 1st or 2nd in class.

There was a cooking class conducted by Ms Jerbai, and she taught the girls to cook things like….. jaggery toffee……sago pudding…….bread pudding…..dhansak…..potato and mince cutlets….

There were laundry classes by Ms Divecha, who taught them how to starch and press napkins, boiling them with soda first to remove stains, using scrubbing boards.

Ms Rodrigues taught needlework, and Mrs Engineer taught history or some such subject.

There would be assembly every morning after the bell and there would be prayers, Parsi style, reciting the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda prayer…

addendum: Β 1) All the girls were grouped into one of four ‘Houses’, named after four prominent Parsi philanthropists of Karachi. They were Mama house, Contractor house, Pochaji house and Dinshaw house. Mummy was a proud member of the Pochaji house, and all her daughters were subsequently placed in the same πŸ™‚

2) Maimuna dropped out of school in class 5 as she suffered from headaches….


18 thoughts on “Mum in Mama school….late 40’s, spilling over into the 50’s

  1. This is really fascinating stuff. Old is really gold when it comes to reliving memories. Nowadays we are bombarded with so many pics and videos over facebook,utube etc, we really appreciate something which is historic and rare.

    1. MUNIRA I have been missing your writings,
      Just got news today of the bomb blastings on the Borah community, made me so very very sad. One of the most peaceful communities among others.
      Hope all is well with all of you. May God send his love to this hurting world.


      1. Stella, this must be you. Thank you for your concern….yes, these are scary times indeed and the community is fearful. I have no idea what is to become of us all…

  2. Four houses… hmm, sounds like Hogwarts for girls πŸ™‚ I can’t believe each individual girl’s family sent cooked food over every day. I’m not going to tell my kids this. They make their own peanut butter-jelly sandwiches…

  3. Loved reading about this! I studied in Mama School under Miss Contractor and was in Pochaji house…wonderful days!

  4. Loving ur blog munira
    I’ve also studied in mama parsi….i am also a karachi and history loving person … you are so very lucky t have your parents sharing all this…. do keep posting
    Mamaian πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much flower! Apologies for replying after five years.
      Sadly, my parents are both gone now. My father passed away in June 2017, and my mother passed away four days ago. I wish I had spent more time writing their stories before they left.

  5. Wow Munira,
    Can’t believe i stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did. I am a Mamaian too …batch of 2000. I studied in Ms Contractor’s and then Ms Mavalvala’s reign …good times indeed. Your name is so beautiful … my class teacher in Class 1 at Mama School was Ms. Muneera Faridoon. … one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known. I don’t know how she is now … but i wish her and Mama School well.
    Sending love from the UK,
    Mehreen Ali
    from Mama House πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you Mehreen, and apologies for replying after four years!
      My dearest mother passed away four days ago so I was going through this blog after a very long time….

  6. My dear Munira
    I am so very sorry for your loss.
    I only saw your reply in my mailbox while filtering through old posts,; the spam folder is unforgiving. Apologies for the late reply.
    I hope you are doing beautifully, I wish there was an easier way to connect rather than via blog comments.
    I am on Facebook along with a bunch of other Mamaians, would love to connect if you’re up for it.
    Take care x

    1. Thank you ❀️
      I’m not on Facebook anymore and I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would 😊 it was time for me to take a step back, reduce the noise of the world, and tune into mySELF.
      With both parents gone now and no one to tell me stories, this blog has fallen silent too. It is only occasional comments from people who happen to stumble across it once in a while that my attention is brought back to it….
      Thank you also for caring enough to reply to my reply despite the intervening time. Means a lot ❀️

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