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QuotesDedicated work and objective observation will take us Montessorians a long way in building a strong society.....Quotes

K. E Taraporewalla

History

Miss Khursheed Taraporewalla & the Birth of her House of Children

Khursheed Taraporewalla, famously known as Miss K. E. Taraporewalla, was one of the world’s most inspirational and dynamic Montessorians and also one of those most original thinkers and doers of our times and times before us.

Taraporewalla’s Montessori House of Children was her child and life. This story tells you how this child took birth from a lady whose proud daughter-in-law I am. Having had the most memorable experiences with her for twenty four years, I take pride in sharing a few instances that I learnt from her.

Strong desire to serve was evident in young Khursheed. Her father Eduljee. H. Taraporewalla was alert with his daughter’s wishes and who else would have understood a daughter better than her papa.

There was this news in the papers about Dr. Montessori being interned in India during the Second World War and about the training course she was going to conduct in Adyar, Madras (present Chennai). With all the support from her parents and sisters, Khursheed thus enrolled into the First Indian Montessori Training Course in 1939 at the age of twenty six.

‘THE LITTLE SOLDIER’ GETS CLOSER TO MAMOLINA

Adyar was the perfect setting for anybody who was going to be enlightened. For young Khursheed, the training course proved to be the best that had ever happened in her life and of course for the thousands of children ;Thatched cottages, about 360 trainees, strictly vegetarian food (though there were rare instances of others boiling eggs in the boilers secretly), the sea shore, the intense programme, so intense that it had to be completed in 3 months! Above all it was Mamolina’s Italian lectures that created a deep impact.

During the whole programme there were ups and downs for Khursheed. But she always proved to herself that tough times do not last but tough people do. When her cranky cottage mate turned her out of the cottage, one Dr. Mana and Dr. Pinchin partitioned an office and allowed Khursheed to occupy a part of it.. She christened it as ‘Gorilla Cottage’.

Now this drew attention. Everyone including Dr. Montessori and Mario wanted to know why. It was because a gorilla beats its own chest when in anger and not attack the others, just as Khursheed did with the girl who refused to share the cottage with her. That evening mamolina called Khursheed over and rewarded her with some delicious Italian snacks (made by herself). Every meeting with mamolina was a reward indeed. A reward which Khursheed would share with the whole world for many years to come.

Picnics were fun for all and so was rock climbing. On one instance during a rock climbing Khursheed climbed down half way just to help someone in need. While everyone applauded the ones who reached the peak, Mamolina pointed at Khursheed and said” That one, (either she didn’t know her name or she couldn’t pronounce it) I would clap for her”. And she did. Next day Khursheed was invited for tea.

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Dr. Maria Montessori’s lectures reached the core of Khursheed’s heart. It was in Adyar, on the shores of The Bay of Bengal that she took a vow to become a follower of the child as her teacher. Dr. Montessori could see the amazing sparks in her. At the time of departure, she held Khursheed’s hand and said,” come back my little soldier and fight for the rights of the child”. Those words grew louder and strengthened her will power to start a House of Children.

Financial constrains were there, but her father always found ways to help. He permitted Khursheed to work abroad to speed up the process. But that amount was enough only for the apparatus Eduljee continued to work after retirement in order to fulfill his daughters dream. Thus, the Taraporewalla’s Montessori House of Children was inaugurated on 15th of July 1953. The environment specially prepared with her heart and soul. But the toughest task was ahead.” Montessori” was a foreign word and there were hardly any takers. Misconceptions, doubts and prejudices were the dark clouds hard to be cleared from the society which always looked down upon the child. Five children joined and three of them dropped out. One of the two who stayed was Sohrab Bezandaawar about whom she spoke to me till the last days of her life.

Hard work paid off

Propaganda through media, extensive exhibitions and dedication began to show fruitful results. Heads started to turn towards this environment which was constructed to ensure all the needs of child’s development. Parents began to notice that these children revealed a personality entirely different from the ones they had previously taken into consideration. More and more people had a glimpse of a new kind of humanity being born from the specially prepared environment.

Khursheed Taraporewalla’s passion, great inner sensitivity, drive to observe and be active always have enabled her to work successfully for fifty three long years without taking a single days leave. Yes, she did work overtime, till the last day of her life. She expired on 2nd June, 2006 after a brief illness at the age of ninety three. She was indeed a precious child of God, born with a special reason. I feel greatly responsible to carry on her mission.

Kalpana Vishwas.

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