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Lifetime of love & learning at South Point

One found her love for Shakespeare at South Point school, one found a lifetime of love and respect there, one gave the school her love and another served it with all his heart.

An alumnus from the school’s first batch, the longest-serving employee on the rolls, a former teacher who joined the school in its inaugural year and the longest-serving member of the staff were felicitated at the diamond jubilee celebrations of South Point last week.

Devi Sivadas, a retired professor, came all the way from Palakkad in Kerala to renew her bond with her alma mater. “I got a call from a lady who said she was calling from South Point and when she invited me, I initially said it wouldn’t be possible for me to travel to Calcutta. She called again after a few days but once again I said no,” said Sivadas, who was convinced by her husband and three sons to join the celebration.

Sivadas, then called Sita Nair, joined Class II at South Point in 1954 and studied there for around three years. Her father was a journalist with a national English daily and when the Calcutta edition of the newspaper wrapped up, the family left for its hometown.

“I used to stay on Ekdalia Road and South Point was a short walk away. I remember there were only six students in my class in the first year. We used to call our teachers ‘aunty’ back then,” she said.

One of the teachers Sivadas remembers was called Mr U. Dutt. “He was not a permanent member of the staff but used to come in to tell us stories from Shakespeare. Inspired by him, I started reading Shakespeare when I was just nine and went on to teach Shakespeare for 30 years,” said Sivadas, who ranked first in postgraduation in all of Kerala and retired as the head of department of English at Mercy College, Palakkad.

“I knew he was a young theatre actor. Much later, I spotted him in a Hindi film and said to myself ‘aiyo it is Mr U. Dutt’. Utpal Dutt was a big star then!”

Shyamasree Lal was among the first teachers to join the school in April 1954. “At that time it had started with a completely different kind of vision. It was a purely Tagorean institution and not conventional at all,” said son Ananda Lal, who received the honour on behalf of his mother as her health did not permit her to attend the programme.

For Dipali Sengupta and Dwarri Nayak, it has always been service with a smile. Sengupta, has been working at South Point High School since August 1, 1969. “When I walked in one morning 45 years ago, I had no idea it would be a lifelong relationship. It has become an inseparable part of my life and I am grateful to God that he made me a part of this institution,” she said.

Dwarri Nayak, one of the first members of the non-teaching staff, was always punctual and popular. After retirement, he is busy taking care of his farmland in Odisha.