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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

THE MISTY HILLS OF MONTE DE GUIRIM

Cross opposite the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi


The imposing old school building,
constructed full in laterite stone.

My poem.

A dedication to my Alma Mater
that I am always so proud of
and always will be.

THE MISTY HILLS
 OF MONTE-DE-GUIRIM

(A tribute to my Alma Mater, St. Anthony's High School,
Monte-de-Guirim, Bardez, Goa)

High up in the misty hills of Monte-de-Guirim
There is an Alma Mater so dear to many
The lads admire its glory still from lands far away
Their love for it they swear would never let decay.

All these years I have been so far away
And at times suddenly in my tracks I stop to pray
When I think of those golden years of nearness
That held us in togetherness.

When I am alone I do ponder
The years seem to have drifted yonder
Although those times have long gone by
Yet they seem to have been
Just around the corner
sometimes making me feel like a loner.

Someday when I am home at last
Surely will remember my school friends
Of days long gone past,
When come rain or shine we held on fast;
Played in the fields till dusk
And ran home before the bell
Tolled for the 'Angelus'. *

When someday I am there again

Will I get a chance to play
With my buddies in the rain
Will they run with me once more
As an encore
Or will I hear
Behind my ear
Someone whisper
That they are no more?

When through the cashew fruit trees
Up the hill we trudged winding
The journey seemed never ending;
When we at last made to the hill-top
Far down below in the fields
We could see the farmers
Tilling and toiling
To make a living.

In the misty hills of Monte-de-Guirim
Stands high the mighty school of St. Anthony
And while on these memories I always dwell
I should always have lot of stories for my children
About my Alma Mater to tell.


EPILOGUE

Here I am at last in my land so free
Through the fields once more I walk
In the cool shade I pause
Beneath the old nunerca tree
On its trunk our names I still see
That we long ago had carved
As children so carefree.

The school was well-known for its academic excellence as well for its prowess in sports like football, field hockey, volley ball and basketball. Run competently by the Capuchin Friars of the Order of Franciscan Minor, it had its own bakery and power generator and a Friar well-known all over Goa for his cure from snake bites. This school had excellent teaching staff and produced high ranking results in the final examinations at the higher secondary level.

At one time it had over 800 boarders. Other students who attended this school were called day-scholars, who walked up the hill to the school from the nearby villages of Guirim, Sangolda, Parra, Saligao, Porvorim, Succorro, Perxet and Bastora. Some boys commuted on cycles from as far away as Anjuna and Siolim (8 to 9 km.) Day-scholars usually walked to school carrying their books and packed lunches with them, known as ‘buthi’ and kept them in a special lunch room.

(*Angelus: The Angelus is a practice of reciting a short devotional prayer in most Catholic homes in Goa, specially in the evenings. In the old days, boys and girls had to be home before the bell rang at sundown in churches and chapels calling for this prayer. The bell for Angelus is normally repeated three times each day, morning, noon, and evening, at the sound of the bell. Not reporting home for this family prayer on time in the evening would have had its own consequences from parents who imposed strict rules in their homes).


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