Mayawati was a timid, reserved student in college
For a woman who has taken Uttar Pradesh by storm and inspires fear and awe among her political opponents and supporters alike, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati's alma malter still finds it difficult to comprehend how the "timid" girl managed to reach where she is today.
"She was such a timid girl. She seldom mixed with others and was reticent, in fact was even scared of the teachers. I am at a loss at times to explain this complete turnaround," recalls JB Anand, the administrative officer of the city's Kalindi College.
"There has been a drastic change in personality. Din aur raat ki farak hain, (a difference between day and night)," exclaims Anand, who has been associated with the college right from inception in 1967.
Anand vividly recalls the day when Mayawati's father Prabhu Das came looking for admission in July 1972, a reserved 16-year-old girl holding on to him, after traveling from Inderpuri in south-west Delhi.
"We gave her admission to a BA (Pass) course with electives including Hindi Political Science, Economics, Hindi and English."
"She was not very academically inclined and got through with a third division," says Anand.
The administrative officer, who retires in August this year after a 40-year long association, maintains that the family sometimes even found it difficult to pay the then monthly college fee of Rs 15.
Just some years ago, Mayawati who has effected a far-reaching change in the political calculus of Uttar Pradesh by empowering the lower castes, celebrated her birthday in grand style, bedecked with diamonds and a flashy salwar-kameez and cutting a 50-kilogram cake.
"See where she has reached now. Now, I hear she is going to be the chief minister for the fourth time. All of us at the college are happy for her," Anand said.
The college's one regret is that Mayawati has not come back even once to call on the teaching staff or enquire about the college.
"I met her once in Lucknow some years back and she treated me with respect," says Anand.
"I hope she comes this time. There will be celebrations if she comes calling on us. It will truly be a proud moment."