Dear 59ers and Other Cathedralites,
The relaunch of Seventh Heaven should have been a very joyous event.
But it is tinged with a great deal of sadness as I have the onerous task of reporting the demise of our former Girls' School Captain, personality exceptional, 54er Head Girl Pamela BALLANTINE.
receives the MBE from Queen Elizabeth II
Pamela was School Captain the year I joined school. I remember her performance at the School Athletics. Then I remember her from the Cathedral Church where the whole BALLANTINE family was always well represented. I sang by the side of her brother, Aubrey, who was the one who broke the sad news to me from his abode in Canada. I also remember their sister, Judy, who was considerably younger than us (maybe 2 years), if I recollect correctly.
I give below a couple of the personal messages I received from close school friends of Pamela.
But first I publish an Obituary Notice about Pamela. The details are what Pamela herself gave me by email for Seventh Heaven, just a few weeks before her passing away.
I pay tribute to her by publishing the words of our School Hymn after the notice, as Pamela embodied the words of our School Song.
OBITUARY - PAMELA BALLANTINE
SCHOOL CAPTAIN 1954
Pamela BALLANTINE died of a heart attack on Tue, 9 Jan 2001 at her home in England during the night.
Pamela was School Captain in 1954. She returned to take the Cambridge Higher School Certificate 1955-56. She won a State Scholarship in 1954 but deferred this to go to Bristol University in 1957 to read for an Honours degree in Economics & Government. She also did the Certificate in Education Bristol & Diploma in Social Administration LSE. Pamela worked as Teacher in Charge of Teachers in Social Services Day Centres, London Borough of Newham until retirement and was still working as Senior Child Psychotherapist Redbridge Healthcare Trust. Pamela did voluntary work with Asian Women's Association, she was the Honorary Vice President League of British Muslims, Chair of the Racial Equality Council, Chair of the Police/Community Con Group, Chair of the Racist Incidents Panel, Chair of the Voluntary Sector Network. Pamela was awarded the MBE for services to race equality, London Borough of Redbridge in October 2000.
And may I honour our dear Pamela by recalling the words of our school hymn:
Land of our birth we pledge to Thee
Our love and toil in the years to be;
When we are grown and take our place
As men and women with our race.
Father in Heaven who lovest all,
O help Thy Children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage
Teach us the strength that cannot seek
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
That, under Thee, we may possess
Men's strength to succour man's distress.
Teach us delight in simple things,
And mirth that has no bitter springs,
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And love to all men 'neath the sun.
I received this message from Pamela's friend from childhood and her classmate right through the years in School, Gracie Hayeem, of the illustrious Hayeem family:
I am in shock to hear the very sad news of our dear Cathedralite whom I was so close to. She was in my class from Kindergarten till we graduated the Senior Cambridge together. She diligently helped me to get through my Senior Cambridge. We worked every day after school together. Many times with Homa Shirazi. I can say if it was not for her help in helping me to cram I may never have made it and passed 2nd grade. All were surprised. Even Mr. Pharaoh tutored me in Math and gave up!
I had just written her for New Year and later in January. about my mum passing away.
She was a dear friend of the Hayeem Family. And was one of the lucky friends I had that she could come over to our house in Bombay any time! My father Mr. Hayeem, may his soul rest in peace, was very strict. But he would have wonderful conversations with her.
She came to visit me in California in the 90's. We spent 2 weeks together. She loved it. When she left I garlanded her with a very special Green hand made "lay". She was so proud of it she wore it for her trip back to London.
She was so dedicated to help humanity any time any where. So brilliant in her mind and ever so humble. A sense of humour enormous. I have many pictures of our class together with Pam. And one was like a Movie Star.
Thank you for the beautiful Memorial for her as it definitely depicts her Bravery. I would like to put our arms around our dear class mate and say "Farewell Pam. We loved and respected you all the way."
There was Zareen Lamb, Jeroo Karanjia, Tooto Lahirri, Karma Dharamsey, Naju Vakeel, Sadhana Shah, Mayer Cursetji. Miriam Gumpert. Mary Balsara, Diana Steggles, Joan Twist, Georgiana Fanngon, Almighty Mody, Nargish Mody, Diana Guzder. Rattan Ramchandani, Arnavaz Guzder, Nalini Pillai, Vijaya Hattiangadi. I cannot remember any more the names. But Sadhana, you perhaps can complete the list. Of course, Doreen Heimlich (nee Feibusch) was also in our class.
The boys in our class were Stephano Episcapo and, of course, Tara Malkani, Anthony Ramsinh, may his soul rest in peace.
Perhaps someone can compile a list of the boys of 54 with Mr Gunnery our head master of the Boys school at that time.
I do hope we can have a class reunion. We spoke many times of it with Pam. So let us do it in her honour. Our deepest sympathy to her family, To her classmates who cared a great deal about her, and to all the many Cathedralites she knew and touched their hearts.
Our deepest sympathy from
Abe, Ellis, Vilma, Sophie and Benjie.
Farewell my friend.
Gracie [Hayeem ] Lerno.
Just a few days before she died, Pamela had sent me an email asking for the email address of her old friend, Sadhana Madhusudan (nee Shah). It was someone she was unable to contact because of her untimely death. I have given below the message sent by Sadhana to Aubrey and Judy (copy Seventh Heaven) after she heard of Pamela's passing away. The contents reflect the character of the person who was rightfully awarded the MBE for a task which, I know from my own personal experience, is thankless and usually the cause of much misery for the person carrying out the job of harmonising life among different ethnic groups.
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 03:30:03 -0800 (PST)
From: sadhana madhusudan
Subject: Pamela Forever and ever...
Dear Aubrey, Judy,
News of Pam's passing on left me numbed and quite overcome, to say the least. It was just a week back that I heard from Seventh Heaven, courtesy kind soul Jacob, that Pam was asking for my e-mail address. I felt honoured and excited that at last I would be in touch finally with my Captain and Muse, my old pal and classmate. But fate snatched away that opportunity alas. Or, until I catch up with her again..
We were together from 6th onwards, both Blue House kids, ever ready to go on crusades to help our classmates in every way could, including hilarious entertainment. And we ended up as Capt. and Vice Capt. of Blue House in '54. I was the Vice Capt, but Pam had two very unfortunate happenings, if memory serves me right, when her loving Dad passed away and when she had to have her appendix out. That left me alone to fend for our House on several fronts.
However, knowing that she would be back soon anyway and that we were guys who never gave up, I went ahead practicing with our teams for various competitions etc..
Wilson House, or Blue, was known for coming last in the annual list, but that year, '54, we turned the corner and came out 3rd . beating Orange I think. That was our victory and Pam felt so gratified, we hugged each other with tears streaming down our cheeks...
Later on, we met again when Pam was Suptd. of a Remand Home at Byculla. I visited her office and was overwhelmed to see the great responsibility thrust upon her. She had chosen to focus on very vital human and sociological issues. I felt humbled in her presence, happy that she was striking out on her own in this direction rather than opting for the 9-5 routine jobs that most of us were doing. Then, we lost touch as I left the country.
It was through Nalini Pillai that I first heard of Pam after 30 odd years, then Gracie, Ratan and Miriam. But, we never did meet.
I was looking for her via Seventh Heaven, and she must have come to know of it.
As Keats says...
"Heaven gives it's glimpses to those who have no time to look too close".
Pam's fav song back then was
"Forever and ever, my heart will be true, sweetheart forever, I'll wait for you."
Which, she promptly translated into Hindi
"Hamesha hamesha, hum tumharay vaastay kharra rahaingaa"...
My kids and grandkids were all told Pam's version of Hey diddle diddle. The legacy will go on..And her memory will go on and on..."hamesha".
God rest her superb soul...and remind us what we could do to show our love and respect for Pamela..
Sadhana (Shah) Madhusudan
In grief, class of '54.
These were only two of the many messages of grief that I got, but it serves as a lesson to all of us - do not delay getting in touch with your friends of yesteryear. Do not delay putting out your hand of friendship. Live your old memories together. These are the golden memories that the life we have lived makes our life worth remembering. Through our old friendships we show the modern world some of the glimpses of the past and teach some of the values of our life.
Poor Sadhana was just hours away from talking to her old friend when fate saw that not to be. May Pam's soul rest in peace. I have extended sympathies that I received to all of Pam's family through Aubrey.
I have the pleasant task of informing you that the third reunion of the Finnish Cathedralites/ Stephanians alumni was held over Christmas at my residence in Oulu. As usual, we had 100% attendance, with all two of us present.
Ajeet (Prof. Ajeet Mathur) came to Oulu, not just to be with his fellow Cathedralite / Stephanian, but his ulterior motive was to try to get to see the Northern Lights which often are visible in all its swirling blue, red and golden glory at this high latitude.
When, on the third evening, because of heavily overcast snowy skies, we were unable to see the stars, we were both a bit surprised when my better half said, very confidently, that Ajeet would see the Northern Lights the next evening. I have never heard such a forthright and dramatic statement from her in all my life. I was quite taken aback.
Next day, as we watched the skies eagerly, looking to see if there was any break of clouds to see the stars above, we were not very hopeful. But Annikki was merrily keeping her composure and said again that without fail Ajeet would see the Northern Lights.
Come evening, we sat down to dinner. After a nice meal, Ajeet was planning a walk around the frozen town to see whether Annikki's prediction would come true, when, out of the kitchen walked this cake designer with a recreation of the Northern Lights transfixed in a glass cake bowl. The ground made of chocolate butter covered cake, with a beautiful blue gel topping about six inches (150 cm) deep. Annikki had managed to create the entire Northern Lights effect in the jelly above the cake - quivering dark blue with stars and moon included.
Ajeet and I were dumb struck.
Annikki is famous for her unique cake designs. Much of her work is soon to be published in a photographic book form (and maybe also on the internet) but none of us expected her to fulfill a promise using her cake designs.
Ajeet left back for his southerly abode quite satisfied at having seen something infinitely more unique and beautiful than the Northern Lights!!
(You can read about Ajeet's latest research writings about Finnish -India Trade in the current issue of Findians Briefings which has also been released today (28th January 2001.)
And we all had a great laugh!!
Here are the snippets from his alumni reunion report:
* Rauha Annikki, wife of Sushil (Jacob Matthan to some), contributed a special Northern Lights Cake which she designed and made herself and which was a great hit..not a crumb was left as it was polished off by Stephanians/Cathedralites with much appreciation.
* The cake idea arose to make up for the non-appearance of the Aurora Borealis! The year 2000-2001 was forecast to be a spectacular auroral year with spectacular lights around New Moon Day (24-25 Dec) but you know weather forecasters....
* Ajeet Mathur and Jacob Matthan went a-walking through the snow and ice around Oulu past midnight in - 26 C remembering....
I want to draw attention to a book published by an ex-Cathedralite, 64er Brinda Somaya (nee Chinnappa), who has found mention on these pages several times. Shows how active she is with regard to things happening with the school.
With another Cathedralite she has released a book called "Women in Architecture".
Brinda is a fine architect. She has been the architect responsible for remodelling the school. Her son, Vikram, is also a Cathedralite (94er). He was one of the very first to discover my Seventh Heaven magazine online about 5 years ago when I started to put it on the web. He works in the US. Brinda's elder sister, Ranjini Chinappa, also a Cathedralite (62er), lives in The Netherlands.
This month's picture has been submitted by our former Physics teacher, William (Willie) Shiri, who now lives in Canada. Willie is married to also an ex-teacher from the Girls' School, Pushpa.
My competition is open all students and ex-students of the school but not to staff members of the years 1955 to 1965. The first person who sends me a complete list of the staff members in this photograph (in the correct order identifying them) by email will get a lovely Alvar Aalto Art Glass piece from Finland.
I also want to know which year you think this photograph was taken.
It is interesting because the late Mr. R. G. Salmon is not there but Mr. John Billington is, but yet our Peruvian Geography teacher (Mr. Zavala is still around! It is definitely past 1959!! Is it 1959, 1960 or 1961?
Can any of you spot the late Mr. A. G. Morecroft who saved my life at Vasind in 1955? For that story and how I got my nickname, you should read the first issue of Seventh Heaven!!
So long for now. See you in a month.
Seventh Heaven (Web Version)
Cathedralite 1954 - 1959
School Hockey Goalkeeper - 1958; 1959
School Prefect - 1958; 1959
Savage House Captain - 1959