Nostalgia of Monte de Guirim
ST. ANTHONY'S HIGH SCHOOL
MONIKERS AT MONTE
Monikers at Monte. They were funny, hilarious and varied indeed, short and to the point. Some were ruthlessly condescending while other were patronizing. Through my entire schooling years the nick-names dragged on and on. They were at times like a stigma. They stuck on us throughout our schooling years and perhaps beyond. They weathered on like permanent labels as we moved higher from one grade to the next. Some were good, others bad. Some were funny, other wild - but most of them were unique in their own way and had a particular resounding ring to them.
Most of the students with nicknames took them in stride without offence, perhaps taking it silently. Some students were bold enough to fight them in defiance. Others just ignored them. Almost all monikers suited well to the traits, habits or temperament of the boys. I remember my own nickname well, and one that I resented. “Funny Faces” they called me. And till today I recall how and when it all began. I was very fond of drawing and improvising cartoons from comic books back then, and that started it all. I could not challenge the onslaught of one full division of over thirty students. Initially I did pick a fight or two – but eventually gave up. Somehow I managed to learn the art of turning a deaf ear and how to ignore my moniker completely, while on the other hand I myself secretly thought of devising a mean name for the name-caller! Too hard to put a stop to it, I thought. It was futile and ineffective – it was dangerously spreading to other divisions of my class. I thrashed some guys my own size, but to no avail. At other times I just put up with the bigger bullies. The name stuck on for years and I finally gave up.
As time went by almost every second student had a nickname as more were added up every year. Later, days and years passed by, we grew up, moved up to higher classes and got more serious about our studies towards the final years - and it was not a big deal or an issue any more. Everyone called the other by nickname anyway! And at most times nobody cared.
Today, in retrospect, I wonder how we could have done and lived without those brilliant nicknames. It was simply plain adolescent fun. School life would have been totally different without them. Some dared to call others by nicknames and nicknames alone – calling by a proper name would be improper, they thought. Probably a few did not. “The Great Nicknames of Monte” I call them – some of which were of the extremely rarest, innovative and most imaginative, of the funniest kind and variety. A nickname described it all – just in a single word.
What probably is not known is how some of those great monikers for a particular student were initiated, and to whom the original coinage would primarily be attributed to. Were they the creations of just one person? Or did a talented bunch of name-callers have a under-cover board meeting during the afternoon recess under the cool shade of the cashew trees down the hill before they set about inventing a descriptive alias for someone else? And then, did this secret, undercover moniker-naming group cast votes on the decided recipient of the nickname? I do not know. Although I knew the student who coined my own nickname, and who I clearly remember to this day, he is still the same – my good old buddy and still keeps in touch with me, though not by my nickname. Others, perhaps may be unaware of the master creators of the students’ aliases of the times gone by.
If we ever attempted to compile a list of such names, my guess is that it would certainly run into quite a humongous collection to be treasured for posterity. The ‘Nickname Register” would surely bring back great memories of a bygone era. Some of the nicknames themselves were legends and so were the students with the sub-titles which stood the test of time. Of course, while “Archimedes”, and “Elvis” were named after great men, many were named after regional or global places or territories from which the boys hailed from. Others were aptly applied by what the particular student was good at, or may not have been adept at in other cases. Fruity names like “Water Melon”, and veggie names like “Bendo” still come to mind. “Mad Scientist”, “ Monkey-nut” and “Matari” were quite familiar alternative designations. The water melon guy was from the village of Parra - which is famous for water melons. 'Matari' (meaning 'old woman' in the Konkani language, had acted as one in a school play), Mad Scientist was brilliant in Physics and Chemistry, and 'Bendo' (Okra) perhaps because it was his favourite vegetable. And the best one - simply called 'Varem' (Konkani: breeze/wind - just because he was a fast sprinter.
An above all, neither were the Fathers, Brothers and Teachers spared by the students without being re-christened by their fair share of the fraternity of the designer nicknames prevailing in those times either. Of course, these were only mischievously whispered, and meant for amusement to be shared only among themselves. Surely they would never dare call the teachers by a name other than a respectful ‘Sir’, ‘Father’ or ‘Brother’.
The monikers were ingenious creations of the students, by the students, for the students of this great institution. Nevertheless, they still were students by any other name.
I am certain the tradition of nicknames is still carried on up to this day atop the arboreal surroundings of St. Anthony’s High School, Monte de Guirim.
Class of 1964
GOA – Memories of My Homeland