Rest In Peace Mrs Mercy Mathai

Mrs Mercy Mathai and Mr Mathai on extreme left with Mr PT Cherian and Mrs Sheila Cherian on the extreme right.  Photo taken in 1969, courtesy  Mr Steve Rosson (in the middle), who taught at our school in 1969 as a Voluntary Service Overseas teacher from England.    The children in the pic are Mathais – Robin and Reena.

Facebook this morning brought the sad news from Veteran Colonel Sajan Moideen about the demise of Mrs Mercy Mathai, our Matron at Sainik School Amaravathinagar, Thamizh Nadu. 

Death cannot take away Mrs Mercy, she will always remain alive in our hearts.  Many cadets like me, owe their little domestic skills to her.  I feel lucky because I was one among her many wards, helped and developed by her, during our formative days at school. I pray he is in the good place now, watching us from the right side of the Creator.

When we, 30 of us from Kerala, joined the school in grade 5, at the age of nine in July 1971, armed with little communication skill in our mother tongue Malayalam, we were welcomed in at our dorm – the Feeder House – by Mrs Mercy.  We were all happy that our Matron – Mrs Mercy – spoke Malayalam.  Everyone of us will vouch that she was a mother to each one of us.  Her love for each cadet and her devotion to duty made up for our mother’s care and love that hardly anyone felt home-sick.

Most of us, until we joined school, hardly ever wore shoes.  It was Mrs Mercy who taught us how to wear the socks and shoes and the biggest bugbear for us was tying the shoelaces.  In the Cadets’ Mess, she with Mrs Sheila Cherian taught us table manners – how to sit on a dining table, how to use the cutlery.

Making our bed in the morning was the first ritual of the day and it was Mrs Mercy who taught us how to execute the task with the counterpane covering the bed to protect it from dust. 

Counterpane – the first complicated English word in our vocabulary – is a fifteenth century word meaning a quilt, coverlet, or outer covering of a bed.  I have heard only cadets from our school and students from some public schools at Ooty (Udhagamandalam, Thamizh Nadu) use this word.  I never heard it later while in service with the Indian Army.

She taught us many domestic skills like threading a needle, stitching a button, darning our socks, etc.  We had to put the dirty linen and clothes in our pillowcase and place them at the designated place and after three days we picked them up washed and pressed.  No one ever missed any of  their garments.  How she managed it still remains a mystery.

Mrs Mercy was very strict with us regarding personal hygiene.  She taught us how to brush our teeth, how to bathe, how to flush the toilet, etc.  She ensured that we clipped our nails – for the defaulters, she clipped them.

She ensured that we wrote a letter home every Sunday – the only means of communication then – and she posted them on Monday.  When parents came to visit their sons, she made them confident that their son was in good care. 

She was a great leader with exceptional organisational abilities.  For our House Day, she made sure that each one of us participated in the cultural show.  For many of us appeared on stage, it was our first stage experience.  While others sang, danced and acted in skits, the likes of me without a tinge of musical or dramatic skills became trees on stage.

How can one forget the birthday bash she organised for our House Captain PM Hariz, who is now a Veteran General?  Many of her wards served the Armed Forces of India and many served as doctors, engineers, lawyers and bureaucrats.

Rest in Peace Mrs Mercy Mathai – there are many like I missing our mother – who ensured that our dorm was a home away from home.

17 thoughts on “Rest In Peace Mrs Mercy Mathai

  1. YES REJI ,,,,,, Thanks for invoking Memories of House Matrons. I joined Sainik School Bijapur on 24 Jan 1967 , Two black trunks of clothing as per joining instructions and plethora of documents and liberal use of Dhobi Ink for marking roll no 243 / H on all clothings , issue of school clothing, mosquito net bedsheets pillow covers CounterPane etc etc took the entire day aided by seniors under strict vigil by Mrs Dolly Gosh -our Hoysala House Matron , The selfless untiring dedication by matrons can not be explained , it has to be felt and experienced, we can not get such great people again in our lives ,

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A very befitting tribute to a most caring, kind hearted and considerate mentor at our School. Mrs Mercy Mathai treated each of her young Cadets as her own children and gently groomed us to grow into confident responsible adults. May God bless her noble Soul and bestow her loved ones with strength to cope with her absence amongst us. Thank you Mr Rosson for sharing this precious picture of you with the Mathais and Mrs Cherian

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  3. I was very sad to read this news. She was so very kind to me during my time at the school. Here is a link to a photograph of her bargaining with an itinerant ribbon seller outside her house in 1971.

    Ribbon seller

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  4. Yes… Mrs Mathai was indeed a mom away from home for all of us. May her soul rest in eternal peace…. The news of her demise brought back lots of memories of Feeder House. Reji, your write up is a great mark of respect for her…

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    • Hello Robin. I have fond memories of you and your sister. Every day when I was having an afternoon nap you both used to come to my window and shout “Wake up Stephen Uncle. Wake up” when it was time for me to go to my afternoon duties. Your mum was a lovely lady.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sad to hear the news of the demise of your mother Mrs. Mathai. Please accept my condolence. I was in the school from July 1963 to December 1969 and so had many of interactions with her. Never let me be lazy. I am also from Kerala. i never knew your names in those days Robin and Reena.

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  5. “Unhappiness where’s when I was young
    And we didn’t give a damn
    ‘Cause we were raised
    To see life as fun and take it if we can
    My mother, my mother
    She’d hold me”…….

    But I miss you, I miss….

    Great Memories and a Brilliant Tribute to a Great Soul ….

    Rest in Peace Maa Yashoda

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Brought back the lovely memories of our childhood- forced to live away from parents at the young age of 10. Loving and caring mother.
    Praying for her soul have a peaceful journey home

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  7. Reena and I thank Mr Reji and all the others who paid this lovely tribute to her.
    We received so many calls and messages this week, and also met a few people during her funeral. All of them were touched by her motherly affection some time during their lives. It makes Reena and I so proud that her legacy lives on.

    Liked by 1 person

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