Reflections

Mrs Sarojini David

It was in the month of June 1968 that we came to Bangalore on transfer from Madras. We stayed on 15, Harris Road, Benson Town. A few days later, I took a walk down the road and was drawn to a board that said “Wesley Widows Home,” on 40 Millers Road. I went in and met two ladies – Miss Good and Mrs. Joshua, who were in their eighties. They were cooking on a stove. The compound was ill kept, with wild grass and shrubs growing all around. The building was in a bad state. I learnt later that these two ladies were shifted to Cheshire Home and the building had been given over to the Diocese for the Crèche Nurses Training Centre by KNH. Later, I remember visiting Miss Good and Mrs. Joshua at the Cheshire Home, along with Mrs. Karat. This was my earliest encounter with The Wesley Home.

The following Sunday, we attended Wesley English Church where I was excited to meet Mrs. Edith Gallyot who had been my Sunday school teacher at the Egmore Wesley Church in Chennai. She introduced us to the Padre – Rev. Donald Frith, his wife and a few other members. I remember fondly the late Rev. and Mrs. Arangaden, the late Mr. and Mrs. John (parents of Stanley and Arthur), the late Mr. and Mrs. Paramanand (parents of Uma and Bhaskar), the late Mr. and Mrs. Abraham (parents of Jason, Esther, Jacob and Ruth), the late Mr. and Mrs. Laura David, the late Mr. and Mrs. Pavamani (parents of Yvonne, Nirmal and Brenda), the late Mrs. McDermott, the late Miss Hart, the late Miss Wells, the late Mrs. Chandran (mother of Mano Ratnakar), the late Mr. and Mrs. K. S. Samuel and many others.

Thereafter I joined the Women’s Fellowship which met regularly and was very active. Some of the ladies would bring their needlework and while knitting with them and teach the others too. We also had cooking demonstrations. I remember Mrs. Premila Dennison’s Malaysian recipes and Mrs. Abraham’s snacks for tea time. Mrs. Paramanand taught us tatting and lace making with hair-pins. Mrs. Mary Downs taught us to make Christmas decorations. There were times when we put up role plays. Mrs. Thomas David would direct the skits. Mrs. McDermott would always form a committee at the Annual Thanksgiving, to receive all the goodies, price them and sell them at various stalls. We would have a needle work and fancy stall among others. She was very meticulous and committed to her task. Mrs. Sunithi Samuel, who also served as the Secretary of the Women’s fellowship, was a very active member with admirable leadership qualities.

After Rev. Donald Frith, Rev. Henry took over. His wife, Bessy, Mrs. Karat and I, used to teach in the Sunday school. We would conduct sports, games and parties for the children. We had fifteen to twenty five children who regularly attended the Sunday school. Since I used to miss the church service very much as Sunday school used to begin at 9 am, Esther Simons took over the Sunday school to enable me to attend church service.

I had the privilege of serving on the Pastorate Committee of the Church. It was during one of those meetings that the question arose; “Who said that the Wesley Home is a bequeathed property?” To this question, Mrs. McDermott, a long standing member of the church, gave the answer. She has also written a brief history of the Wesley Home in the 95th Annual Thanksgiving brochure. For those who are not aware, I would like to recap herewith: “After the First World War, Major Garett, a member of the Wesley English Church, who saw the dire needs of many widows, purchased a building on Old Poor House Road. Through his generosity, five widows with a matronin- charge, were accommodated free. Tradition has it that Old Poor House Road got its name from that Home. It was the practice that the Matron and the widows attend at least one service in a month at the Wesley Church on Sunday. From past records, we learn that the property was sold in 1942 and the property at 40, Millers Road was purchased to house the five widows. Each widow was given a room, a toilet and kitchenette free. They furnished the room and did their own cooking. As time went by, it was found that these widows were getting disabled and their illnesses were frequent: they were becoming liabilities to the church. In 1973, the PC decided to give the widows notice to find alternative accommodation and hand over the property to the diocese.

The Diocese used the building for crèche work till the year 1977.However, in May 1977, the PC decided to use the building as “Wesley Home” – a Home for the aged. The inauguration of the Home by Bishop Gill.took place on 12th November 1977 Rev. Thomas David conducted a service in the presence of Bishop Gill and introduced the members, who have since all passed on to glory: Mrs. Coyne, Miss David, Mrs. D’Cruz, Miss Simpson, and Miss Hodson. At a later stage, the others who came to live in the Home (who have also passed on to glory)were Miss Joseph, Miss Vivian, Mrs. Snug, Miss Mabel Jacob, Mrs. Heber, Mrs. Muliyal, Miss Ruth Solomon, Mrs. Joshua, Miss Dodsworth, Miss Mary and her brother Mr. Robin Godoin, Miss Putz and Mrs. E Roman. I served as a Convenor and a Committee member of the Wesley Home for a few years. Other Convenors like Miss Dicky Simons and Mrs. Susan Chander did commendable service to the Home. The successive wardens too have rendered immense service to the Home. The late Miss Hepzibah, the late Miss Vedamuthu, the late Mrs. Dharmaraj, Rev. Miss Abraham, Miss Verghese and the late Mrs. Saralaya, were all committed in their service to the residents.

It was fun and fellowship in the evenings as we gathered on the verandah. Miss Vedamuthu and Miss Vivian would dance and make speeches, crack jokes and make us laugh. There was singing and games too. I remember with deep respect and gratitude all those who have gone to be with the Lord. They have each truly enriched my life.

During this time, I also remember our Church Campus was brimming with activity because of the Day Care Centre run by the KNH which catered to children from 2-6 years from the economically weaker section of society. Now that the Day Care Centre is closed for want of funds, it is painful to see that the ministry among the poor children is stopped. It was a known fact that one day the foreign funds would stop and thereafter the church would have to take over and run the project. That was what Mrs. Edna Gill (the Bishop’s wife), founder of the Day Care Centre said at the inauguration that was held at Memorial Church compound. While we are stewards of Church property, let us make every effort to revive this project and win souls for Christ. It is our responsibility to continue the good work that was begun for us. May the Lord help us to be worthy of our calling.

I remember the youth of the church playing a very active role. They were very involved in youth programs and activities both inside and outside the Church campus. Under the able leadership of the late Mr. Sonny Devadason who directed many plays, they put up skits and plays regularly. The late Mr. Karat used to organise lectures for the youth in the Wesley Guild Hall. A counselling centre was opened in the church campus by the late Rev. Frank Mcwana and many youth were drawn to it. There were indoor and outdoor games and both Christians and non-Christians used to be part of the Youth Fellowship. Seeing youngsters on the campus all week long was a common and pleasurable sight.

There was a time when the choir pews were empty. Volunteers from the church comprising of men and women, decided to occupy these seats and lead in the singing. This is the choir we see now, shining in their commitment, under the able leadership of Miss Rani Williams and Mr. Chandy, assisted by our Organist, Mr. Victor Emmanuel. In closing, it is my prayer that the Church will grow spiritually and stand out as a beacon of light in our city. As Our Lord said:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”. ( Math 5:16)