She is like a hard softball, hard from outside but soft within. I am talking about our dynamic, energetic Principal Mrs. Sneh Mahajan who guided the destiny of the college for around one and a half decade after the retirement of our beloved founder Principal Mrs. S.Roy. Any time I think of my early years in the college, I can’t help remembering the two stalwarts-Mrs. Roy and Mrs. Mahajan under whom I had the privilege of working. Both the remarkable Principals were dedicated to the core, worked tirelessly with missionary zeal for the college but were temperamentally different, having their own unique personalities and the styles of functioning.
Mrs. Mahajan, then known as Mrs. Gupta, was the Vice Principal of the college when I joined MCM DAV as a lecturer way back in 1980. We, the juniors were awestruck by her persona. There were times she was very warm but there were occasions when we found her unapproachable. Sometimes she would crack jokes, laugh freely but at times we felt overawed by her stern looks. These are my early recollections of Mrs. Mahajan during my first few years in the college.
When Mrs. Mahajan took the reins of the college in 1986, I had the opportunity to work under her entire tenure of 14 years. Even after she became the Principal of the college; she remained Sneh for her close friends in the college but for most of us, the junior staff-members, she was Mrs. Mahajan. I remember Mrs. Mahajan as a hard task- master, a strict disciplinarian who never minced words. She was a perfectionist; thorough and meticulous in her work. Just amazing was her energy and level of commitment! Can’t forget the way she would move up and down the corridors, clapping and shooing away the girls from the verandah so as to ensure discipline. Even after assuming the chair of the principal, despite the peons around her, at times, she would run her own errands. I remember once she sprained her ankle but despite the discomfort, she would walk around wearing sports shoes, draped in her lovely saris. Truly A woman of substance!
I can never forget her fetish for cleanliness, in fact no one can. Whenever she found any wrapper or paper littered in the campus, she would start picking up herself so that we had no choice but to join her in her cleanliness drive. It is a fact that the campus looked absolutely spick and span during her tenure as the Principal. Her residence in the college campus, though simple was tastefully done, meticulously kept and unbelievably neat and tidy. Not a speck of dust could be found anywhere. Every thing was so much in sync that one hesitated to sit lest the order was disturbed. Teji, a colleague and friend from the English department had an anecdote to share. Once Teji, a scholarly person, was sitting in her apartment with the books scattered all over the place, she wondered what if Mrs. Mahajan came and saw the mess. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. There stood Mrs. Mahajan at her door. Imagine Teji’s plight!
Mrs. Mahajan had her own inimitable style. I remember when my elder one was born; Mrs. Mahajan came to see him. Since it was quite cold, I had thoroughly clad the little one, a cap on his head and booties to cover his little feet. She advised me not to cover both the head and the feet at the same time. Well, she believed in action, took no time to removing the cap from the baby’s head and keeping it aside. I followed her advice and never repeated the same. In fact, I am thankful to her as my children have never felt the need to cover their head in cold till date. I would like to share another episode. When my second son was born, Mrs. Mahajan arrived in the nursing home with a lovely sleeping bag for the little one. When she visited, I was down with fever because of infection that I caught after caesarian delivery. The next evening there was a gentle tap on the door of the hospital room; there Mrs. Mahajan was to look me up again. I was touched deeply by her concern.
Indeed, Mrs. Mahajan had a heart of gold. She was compassionate, always there for everyone in need. When my dear friend and colleague lost her husband, Mrs. Mahajan stood by her like a pillar of strength, helping her in every possible way –physically, financially and emotionally. I do not think I have ever met any body as generous as her. Once on my way back from the college, I met with a small accident and was injured. The first person I could think of in the hour of need was Mrs. Mahajan and actually she was there within minutes at the accident site to take charge of the situation. In crisis she would always be there, like a rock to stand by one’s side.
I feel myself fortunate to have worked under the stewardship of Mrs Mahajan, whose enthusiasm and values I cherish and tend to imbibe.
Long live Mrs. Mahajan and her unfading spirit!
(Published in Souvenir on Golden jubilee of MCMDAV )