My last two posts were about great teachers and about life in Calcutta. Rama informed me about the passing away of someone who could be identified with both posts: Fr Beckers. Read Rama’s post, and you can figure out what an impact the man had.
We were really privileged to have been at St Xavier’s. I don’t know what it was about the place, to have attracted so many wonderful teachers, people with genuine gifts and calling, people who gave their lives to the institution. It was the kind of place that made you want to break into school before opening time, even though you had a happy and contented home life. I remember doing just that once, climbing over the metal gates at what used to be the hostel entrance on Short St (it may have been on Wood St, can’t actually remember which one was which). And just as I tried to jump off the top of the gate (it was a solid metal gate with spikes on top) my trouser leg got snared by one of the spikes, along with a teensy bit of leg, and I hung upside down in agony until help arrived. Those gates didn’t open till seven, and I wanted to get in twenty minutes early.
That’s what my schooling was like. It was like that because of the sheer passion and commitment and quality of the teachers I had, from 1963 to 1979. Initially I was at Miss P Hartley’s Private School, in a converted stables in Landsdowne Road, then I moved over to St Xavier’s in what was called Small School in 1966, crossed the road to Big School in 1970, then moved across the quadrangle to College in 1976.
I am sure many of you had similar experiences. One day I will figure out what motivated the Miss P Hartleys of this world, the Fr Goreuxs, the Fr Bouches, the Fr Beckers, the Fr Huarts. One day I will figure out what motivated the Viannas and the Sens and the Bhowmicks and the Samajpatis and the Engineers. They helped make me me.
So here’s to great teachers everywhere. We owe them a lot.