It was with great pleasure and pride that I learnt that an educator of Mauritian origin had been awarded a prestigious award in India. Courtesy WhatsApp, she shared this good news with me.
Nazirah is the daughter of late Jaynool Hamid Bucktowar, jeweller, Route Royale, Rose Hill. Describing herself as a ‘Loreto girl to the core’, after completing her secondary studies at Loreto Curepipe she joined the Loreto College Kolkata in 1967, her admission having been arranged by Mother Provincial. In 1971 she obtained BA Hons (Geography) and B.Ed. She returned to Mauritius to work as Geography teacher at Loreto College Vacoas for a year, after which she flew back to Kolkata as Mrs Nazirah Ganjee.
During her student days in Kolkata, the Ganjee family were her guardians, and became her in-laws when Bashir – the eldest son – and her decided to tie the knot, in Mauritius in 1972.
In 1977 she joined La Martiniere for Girls (LMG) to teach geography to Classes XI & XII for ten years, after which she became Head of Primary Dept until her retirement in 2006. She was not the type to stay idle, and went on to take a course in Mental Health, and founded a new school for the children of a Muslim Orphanage.
No surprise, therefore that, after she had received the Long Service Recognition from LMG, her engagement in education was crowned on December 12th by the granting of the ‘Memorial Lifetime Award for a Teacher’ offered by the Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2020. For this, she is ‘thankful to the three Lady Principals I worked under, for granting me the freedom to run the department, to the parents for trusting their children’s education to us, and the students who brought out the innate. I had a great rapport with my staff that cooperated and helped me to run the department’
Her family consisted of son Rahil, an international professional golfer who takes part in the annual Open Golf Championship in Mauritius and a daughter, who settled in the US.
This sharing by Nazirah rekindled many memories of our times spent together in Kolkata, especially with her in-laws and the family who were ever so welcoming to the small group of us Mauritian students studying in Kolkata. Most unforgettable will remain Bashir, a bon-vivant with his unending jokes. The last time we met was during their visit in 2013, and I was saddened to learn of his passing a few months after their return to Kolkata.
For the past couple of years, WhatsApp has allowed us to touch base afresh and remain in contact. Unfortunately, only a few of us who had been her contemporaries in Kolkata remain to share the joy of Nazirah, to whom must go the last words: ‘Since my husband passed away La Martiniere for Girls is my family, thousands of students I taught for 30 years and colleagues are my lifeline. I’m grateful to God for the affection and respect showered on me. This Award is a recognition of my devotion to teaching.’
* Published in print edition on 22 December 2020