25 Nov Ms Kaveri Dutt
Memories tend to crystallise around one moment in time or one object that takes on greater and greater significance with the passage of time. My memories of my alma mater, Loreto Convent, Lucknow are centred around the tree.
When I had the privilege of revisiting my old school, 45 years after having left its hallowed portals, I was somewhat apprehensive about the volume of change I would encounter. I was therefore very pleasantly surprised to discover that though much had changed, much remained untouched by time—including The Tree! Over the years the Tree for me came to symbolise all that I most valued about my school days and clichéd though it may sound, the halcyon days spent in Loreto Convent Lucknow constitute one of the best phases of my life.
To get back to the Tree, an emblem of the tangible and intangible heritage that is Loreto, it sheltered us from probing eyes when we hid under its shady boughs in sport or to mourn broken friendships and low marks. We met beneath its outspread branches to exchange childish secrets or share with our best friend ‘tuck’ smuggled from the refectory. On dark nights we watched its shadow from our dormitory window, a shape both formidable in its dark grandeur and comforting too as we spied the bench beneath. Thus the Tree provided us with an important lesson of life—that what determines our response to events and situations is our sense of perspective.
When assailed with doubt or sorrow, we gravitated to The Tree. A kindly Nun passing by would sense our mood and quietly come and sit beside us, placing her arm comfortingly around our shoulders. Her unobtrusive presence and concern would soon restore our spirits and all would be right with the world again. The Tree consequently acquired a surreal significance in our imagination and represented life in Loreto Lucknow itself—a secure place, a shady haunt filled with sounds of laughter, (and a few tears), mirroring the love and care that the Loreto Sisters showered upon us where in pensive moments, the spreading branches would direct our gaze to the boundless blue sky beyond—a reflection of God’s love and mercy for all Creation.
45 years later, reminding me that faith and hope spring eternal in the human breast once again was The Tree.