24 Mar Chaitali Banerjee Roy
I like to call myself a ‘true blue Loretoite’, and that’s one thing I am really proud of. It is an important part of my identity, and I wear my pride like a badge of honour. In fact, as a postgraduate student when I entered the darkened, musty, scarred corridor of Calcutta University, after spending a lifetime (15 years) in Loreto, I definitely felt I had arrived in an alien landscape. I experienced an inalienable sense of loss of identity, of sisterhood. Gone were the days of ‘girlhood springtime gay.’ That sense of self, decorum, discipline and dignity so deeply ingrained. The friendships so carefully nurtured, the teachers and professors who acknowledged our presence as individuals, and more importantly cared, the firm guidance of the Loreto nuns, years of happy learning and silent grooming. But then Loreto had prepared us for that inevitable cutting of the umbilical cord, and in a few years, we came into our own. What is to be a Loretoite? It is a journey of self –discovery. The first time I represented school, and won an award as a fourteen year old at a music contest, those heady years of doing theatre, getting elected to the student council and learning to take decisions and shouldering responsibilities or ending my years in Loreto with that silver papered crown of ‘Miss Loreto’ perched askew on my head. It was not a beauty pageant, but a recognition of the qualities that we Loreto Girls are supposed to nurture and develop. In my later years as a career woman, and all the other personal relations I have lived, the ability to aspire, the strength of character and the values of honesty, acceptance, courage, sacrifice, tolerance and hard work have stood me in good stead. It is not that I have not faltered, but I tried, and I tried hard. There is one regret I will harbor for long. I am the mother of a precocious fourteen-year-old growing up in Kuwait. I wish she had the opportunity to experience the same joy; it is an elixir I would have loved to share.