Muslim Girls' School used to be synonymous with the name Ms Qamar Jehan, always addressed as 'Sister-ji'. She was the Principal of that school from the late 1950's and held that position for a long, long time. In fact
she was instrumental in the development of this institution for the education of girls from all communities, races and religions. Although, at first, the school was meant for girls only; later, it opened up even for boys up to the primary level. A secondary
section was was also opened with the vision, wisdom and hard work put in by Sister-ji. She played a key role in bringing improvement in the lives of millions of girls in Kenya.
I remember her as a small lady covered
from head to toe with the traditional 'saree' and a long sleeved blouse. She had a long plait, a receding hair line, thick brows on an authoritative face without a trace of make-up. She was a conservative, simple, humble, highly educated woman. She had a double
Master's degree in Education and was known for her courage in facing the challenges of life and standing up for her rights with integrity and dignity.
When I joined Muslim Girls' School in Standard 2, I was about
6 years old. My first teacher was Ms. Amina and I still have memories of that time. I was shy at first but one day during 'class-time' before assembly, she asked me to perform anything that I knew in front of the whole class. I had just come back from a trip
to Pakistan so I remembered a song from a movie I had watched there. I heartily sang 'Aaye mausam rangilay suhanay, jiya nahin manay, to shooti le ke aaja balamaa...'
That was the beginning of a fanatastic time
in primary school. My sisters were also in the same school. We were all lucky to be academically bright, thanks to our father who always made sure that we studied hard in the evenings at home. He never objected to his girls taking part in extra curricular
activities so we all participated in school plays, concerts, 'naat' recitations, singing sprees, debates, speeches and even dancing. Saying the school prayers during assembly time was no problem for us.
school speech days, we used to bag most of the prizes to the chagrin of our rivals but to the glee of our parents, who were struggling and striving to educate all their children. The teachers were always encouraging and inspiring. I still remember some of
There was Mrs. Shaad in the nursery - a large lady with a beautiful face and green eyes. She had a booming, loud voice and the kids were always in awe of her.
Mrs Mussarat was also in the nursery - a kind, docile, lovely lady with a flawless complexion and jet black hair. We used to see her a lot as all the school functions used to be in the nursery school hall.
Zakia Magre and Razia Magre were always admired for their 'rupanzel' long hair.
Ms Rafia Deen was a tall, slim, beautiful lady who was often given the role of a king or prince in the school plays, put up by
the highly energetic and talented teachers. I had a chance twice to act as her child in the dramas that used to be a tradition at the end of the year celebrations.
Mrs. Rashida Asghar was an outstanding, beautiful
person with a pleasant demeanour and smart sense of dressing up. She used to accompany her father, Nawab Din and Sisterji, to go from house to house, convincing parents to send thier children, especially girls, to school. Her husband, Asghar Sadiq, was also
an active community member, President of Sir Ali Sports Club and Chairman of Sigona Golf Club. They had two small kids and life was blissful until one day when tragedy struck and both husband and wife left this mortal world after a fatal road accident on the
Nakuru-Nairobi Highway. All friends, teachers and students went into shock.
Just that morning (1st June,1972), Mrs Rashida and her students had won prizes at the Kenya Music Festival. At lunch time she had collected
her mother and attended the funeral of a friend at Pangani Mosque. On the request of Mr. Mohamed Amin, Rashida and Asghar started their journey to Nakuru to get a deal on a fleet of trucks but never came back! They had left their family, friends and children
to the mercy of this cruel world.
The children are till now saddened by the fact that they had to hear all about their parents from teachers and friends - they were so young and innocent when both their parents
were snatched away in the prime of their lives.
Mrs Rashida Asghar will always be remembered for the legacy she left behind and the remarkable things she did for Muslim Girls' School. She was the Mathematics
and Hisory teacher for Classes 5 - 7. She introduced the 'Osmoroid' pen in her classes to improve the handwriting of students. Thanks to her, many of us discovered and developed the beautiful calligraphic writing. She used to teach the pupils knitting, crochetting
and stitching, which was her passion, too. She had a golden voice and used to lead the chorus of teachers and students reciting 'naats' during school assemblies.
With her friendly personality she won
the heart of one and all. She became the Head of the Primary section in the school and among her colleagues were Ms Asfa, Mrs Sakina, Ms Sheikh, Ms Shaila, Mrs Safdar Qureshi, Mrs Abdulla, Mrs Hashmi, Mrs Safia Lone,
Mrs Sadqa Malik, Mrs Anwar Sethi, Mrs Saeeda Asghar and the unforgettable Mrs (Appaji) Zohra, the religion teacher, known for her ruler hitting on the knuckles of students who did not learn their lessons properly. Luckily I used to escape her wrath but I still
remember the wincing of my class mates who got her 'treatment'.
Mrs Cardoso was another formidable teacher, notorious for her merciless sharp tongue and ruthless punishments.
The students took their own back by giving atrocious knick names to the teachers like - 5 shilling note, 10 shilling note, 'kahin nazar kahin ishara', 'maalai chor' etc. One student also had the audacity to slap the head teacher in front of other people.
Insolence and indiscipline has always been present in all generations!
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