Tributes pour in for Dubai school teacher who succumbed to Covid

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on May 22, 2021 | Last updated on May 22, 2021 at 10.27 pm
Supplied photo

Anitha Ajayakumar was one of the founding teachers of GEMS Our Own Indian School, Dubai

Teachers and pupils, current and alumni, of GEMS Our Own Indian School (OIS) were grieving the loss of their former Malayalam teacher Anitha Ajaykumar on Saturday after she succumbed to Covid-19 late Friday night.

A Thrissur native, Ajaykumar, one of the founding teachers of the school, passed away at the Lakeshore Hospital in Kerala's Kochi late Friday night. According to teachers, Ajaykumar fell ill at the start of May and had to be hospitalised as her condition quickly deteriorated.

Ajaykumar, a teacher of the school since April 20, 1991, left the school in December last year, school principal Lalitha Suresh told Khaleej Times. "She left the school as her husband had retired and the family decided to return to Kerala and settle down," said Suresh.

Rich tributes for the former teacher were paid by students, alumni, and teachers on social media. "She was about 60-years-old. She received the very best medical care in Kerala," said a teacher at the school.

The school also took to their official Facebook page to announce Ajaykumar's death on Saturday. "With profound grief, the OIS family shares the sad and untimely demise of our beloved Anitha Ma'am. Our hearts are heavy and no words can comfort or ease this irreparable loss." Teachers, students and alumni fondly remembered the former Malayalam teacher for bringing Vishu Kaineetam to the school every year. Kaineetam is a tradition where elders give children blessings in money, usually in the form of coins, during Kerala's harvest festival

"Every year, she would bring hundreds of coins to give students during Vishu," said the school principal.

Suresh said the staff and students at the school are heartbroken. "I have a jar of coins on my table that she personally gave me every year for Vishu," she said. "It is as though she left us only to go to India and pass away. She was one of the pillars of OIS. She has been here since the start of our school. Even when the school went through troubled times, she was with us. The culture of our country was embedded in every child, thanks to her."

During her tenure at the school, Ajaykumar received the Best Teacher of the Year Award and Rajiv Gandhi Best Teacher Award. She was also nominated for the prestigious Mariamma Varkey Award owing to her positive contribution and dedication in all realms of school activities. She is survived by her husband and two sons.

"OIS will always remember Anitha Ma'am for the incredible relationships that she maintained with her students, parents, and colleagues. She has left a rich legacy and the OIS family will always keep her memories very close to our heart," the Facebook post stated.

Suresh added, "She kept in touch with every member of the school alumni. She was energy personified. Personally, I've lost someone very close to my heart."

Another school teacher told Khaleej Times, "She was in charge of the school alumni associations. Every single child at the school knew her. For our annual Onam assembly, she would dress the students and bring their costumes and ornaments. Every child was important to her. She would hold special classes even for one child."

The school will be conducting a memorial for Ajaykumar in the coming days.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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