Mrs. Deena Mistri

According to Mrs. Nighat Razzaq who spent 30 years working with her: “despite her tough exterior, she was very generous towards those in need, those that were less fortunate, and those that could not afford an education. Each year there were two to three children of staff members, whose tuition fees were paid by her, on condition of anonymity. Many of those students have now become doctors, engineers and respectable citizens of our society.”

During the revolution in Iran many Irani Zarthositis moved to settle in Karachi and were given free education at the two Parsi schools. “Deenu Aunty” as most Parsi children called her – was always the first to offer free tuitions at home for these children to get caught up with the Pakistani education system.

Mrs. Mistri was loved and feared. “When she entered a room, the noise would just die, not fade out, just die,” said Yashaan Mavalvala, her great-nephew. “She had this cane in her office which everyone talked about; it kept everyone in line. I remember her at our annual prize distribution when I won a drawing competition, after receiving the prize she pulled my cheeks and lovingly slapped me in front of everyone!”

Zohair Nanjiani another student of hers reminisces “She had an unusual way of instilling an uncompromising, self-sustaining moral code in all her ‘boys’ and in setting elusively high standards of seeking knowledge from eclectic sources. Immediately after her periodic ‘killer’ English test, she would have students exchange books and self-check. Since there was no prescribed course for these tests that were based on her somewhat high expectation of our English skills, a C grade was a feat. Bruised and beaten, we would be encouraged to rise again. Having finished the full years prescribed matric textbook within three months, most of the time with Mrs. Mistri was spent in open and spirited discourse.”

Despite her formidable personality, she was very approachable and fond of being challenged and debated. Paurushap Magol recalls “as a teenager I wrote a funny poem about her and it somehow came into her hands, I was very scared as she wasn’t the one to “spare the rod”. But to my surprise she laughed and read the poem out loud in class! Such was her nature.”