A Rose Among the Marigolds
On a warm and sunny October morning, we went to visit Woodstock's oldest living alumnus, Miss Edith Alice Garlah, at her home in Woodlands Estate, Mussoorie
A petite and extremely youthful 97-year-old greeted us and invited us to sit down near her by the
window. As her sweet voice told us her story, we could see through the window her beautiful
marigolds glowing in the garden outside. She was born in India in 1907 in the house in which she
still lives today, the youngest of three children. Her father had bought Woodlands in 1905 and set
up a boarding school for 30 boys there. He was a strict and good principal, his Wife helping in the
dorms and dining room. The school later accepted girls as day scholars, and Miss Garlah studied
there until she completed her Junior Cambridge exams.
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by Miss Vera Francis (whose sister taught at Woodlands) and Miss Vera Marley, and remembers Miss Edith Jones with special fondness. Woodstock invited her to return and take up teacher training at the college that was run in Midlands at that time. Complying with her father's wishes, however, Miss Garlah returned to Woodlands and taught Elementary. After her father's death in the mid 1940s, Miss Garlah took over the running of the school with her brother, Cecil. In 1947, with children being removed from boarding because of the uncertainties surrounding Partition, numbers at Woodlands dropped, and the school became a day-school.
When her brother died at the beginning of 1967, Miss Garlah informed parents that she would stop teaching at the end of that year. For over forty years this gentle lady had dedicated herself to teaching children, many of whom remained on the hillside, including Ganesh Saili, Anil Prakash and Mr. Hari, who bought the shop from the original Mr. Hamer.
Eight years ago Miss Garlah was walking by the Clock Tower in Landour Bazaar with her close friend, Mrs. Tyndale, and Mr. Prakash approached her, asking if she remembered him. Her immediate reply was, 'Of course I remember you, Anil Prakash!' Her phenomenal memory is matched by her mental ability for she still does all her own accounts and, amidst much verbal sparring, holds her own on the scrabble board in the nightly two-hour games she plays with Mrs. Tyndale.
Despite protests from friends, she also loves to spend time working in her garden, cultivating the wild calsileria, the cosmos, roses and marigolds. It was amidst the array of yellows and golds, reds and whites, purples and lilacs, that we bid farewell to our charming host. We wish her many more peaceful and happy years - a rose among the marigolds.
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