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   Around this time of the year... (November 12, 1990)

Around this time of the year, happy and hugry children come home from their boarding schools for the long winter vacation. And so has our little Rumana, all seven years old and very independent.

This has been her first year away from home and already she has become a part of that pecular class known as boarder. Self-reliant, not over-affectionate, confident, doing her own thing. She is no more mama's little girl, she is a St. Joseph's Convent boarder.

Alredy the changes in her can be seen. Apart from growing taller and healtheir in Panchgani's salubrious climate, there are the little tings that we find her doing. Making the bed, nearly folding and putting away her clothes, squeezing the toothpaste methodically from the bottom and working her way up, and instructing everybody else to do the same, stoppering the ketchup after use, cutting her cake of soap into two and using half at a time, searching the house for books to read.

And the speech has changed. The expressions, all the ‘yeahs' and ‘wells' and ‘sort of', we presume, have been picked up from the senior girls at school, who have no doubt how become the new idols of her life.

And the talk is all of the school. Of St. Luke's House, and Matthew's House and Augustine's House, and sports and elocution competitions and dorms and assembly halls and tuck boxes and compulsory glasses of warm and unsugared milk that nobody likes to drink but has to.

And of friends who are just names to us, though the names are becoming increasingly familiar, and of teachers and the nuns and the mother superior and Sister Shanti, who, we presume, is the dorm-in-charge, and of other schools, and how St. Peter's has more holidays than any other school, and how it is all right to have a long holiday at X'mas because it is a boarding school.

And of tests, where some girl go 20 out of 20 and is unduly pround of it, and of Kipling's Jungle Book that we had presented her as a going away gift and which she has finished and a nun has borrowed now to read.

And of the lessons that they hae to do while on holiday, including five lessons in Marathi, one of which she alredy knows. Rani Cha Baug, and would we like her to recite it for us?

Yes, little Rumana has changed, who has become a boarder now. And life will never be the same again for her… it will be better.

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