Happy Feast for the feast of Don Bosco today! The day brought back memories of my schooling at Don Bosco's, Matunga, Mumbai from the 7th-10th standard. The school with its magnificent shrine (in pix) revered by Bombayites and the world over has always been an icon for me. We don't fail to visit it whenever we slip into Mumbai from Goa.
Don Bosco (August 16, 1815 - January 31, 1888), a Roman Catholic priest, lived and died in Italy working for the homeless boys on the street. He practised the way of love in teaching values to the kids and eschewed the rod believing in the preventive method of education.
School years (1978-1981) were years spent in the boarding house at Don Bosco High School, Matunga. Though I did feel lonely at times in the boarding, I learned to adapt to survive among the boys with whom I had to play, eat, study and sleep. My local guardian aunty Aggie at Santacruz, (my mum's sister) used to faithfully visit me on Sunday evenings when visits were permitted. She used to bring me goodies to eat. Aunty Yoma lived closer to Matunga, down the road at Wadala. I always remember the hot cross buns she used to bake and bring for me during Lenten week and her constant reminder when I stayed over at their place, 'Brian, chairs have legs, but they cannot walk!'
When I was going to meet my would-be wife Queenie residing in Mumbai, it was to this shrine I came to and implored blessings of Mary Help of Christians. All went well. Now we give thanks and praise as a family and visit the shrine whenever possible. The 6 p.m. Mass organized by the past pupils of Don Bosco Panjim, Goa at the Don Bosco school in Panjim is a very good initiative. The dine and dance with Purple Rain in attendance makes you feel proud to carry on the traditions of a Boscoite.
In school the feast day used to be celebrated with great pomp. The boarders used to yell their hearts out for the hymns at morning Mass and then proceed for a special breakfast. It used to be a holiday. Various events, game and activities were held throughout the day with the 4 Houses vying for top honours, viz. Red, Green, Yellow and Blue.I used to be in Green House and Neville was our House captain. Brian Lobo from (was it Yellow House?) was an ace football player. So was Ivan. The goalie was Anthony Rodrigues. He used to stand up for me whenever I was being bullied. I was the studious sort and hated by some for it.
We used to enjoy listening to Fr. Dennis Duarte, Rector for his Sunday Mass sermons were very interesting. SDB stands for Salesians of Don Bosco but Fr Duarte wryly said it also stood for 'Send Dollar Bills'! The Savio Club run by Brother Rocha was always agog with activities. Night football and sakli were games we played after dinner and before rosary. Many of the hymns we sung after night prayers ring out and echo form the past when I hear them today.
Maiden Mother, meek and mild
Take O Take Thy little child
All my life O let it be
My best joy to think of Thee
And when my eyes Are closed in sleep
Through the night My slumber keep
Make my latest thoughts to be
How to love Thy son and Thee.