When some of us from our school batch of 1981 decided to meet, I knew this was going to be a trip down memory lane. In hindsight I realize this was also an invigorating learning experience.
Back then in Bombay, we were just kids, finding our fledgling feet in the world. Most of us were in the boarding school. This gave us a sense of bonding.
Anthony was down in Goa for a few days. I had to pick him up and join the guys at Nerul for lunch. We were now all scattered across the globe. There were clumps of us in Kuwait, Canada, Bahrain, Bombay, New Zealand and here in Goa. Some of us had families, some preferred to stay single, and some were living separately. There was so much we brought to the table after all these years.
It was like going back in time. Faced with the frenetic onslaught of development here were tall trees to greet me. The winding roads had sunlight at every turn. There were spaces by the road with benches to sit down and rest – the red tiles clean and inviting. There was even a railway crossing. Sometimes the road was so narrow two cars could not pass through. At the turn, the church of Our Lady of Livra-Febres, Consua looked majestic in white. The village has preserved its natural heritage. Quaint names like Mazilvaddo and Pimpalkota with the ward number, on signboards greeted you as you drove past.
Anthony and me spoke of life, about the page we were on, and about our friends. He had a wisdom which came from being a globetrotter, a family man, and a down-to-earth human being. He was the catalyst who brought us all together, and the peace-maker who stepped in when things got nasty. Every guy retains some to the character he had in school, Anthony was saying. If he was a show-off then, he is a bit of a show-off now. It made it easier to read one’s personality.
With the boys from the batch which passed out of SSC in 1981 it was okay to use the register - almost an idiolect - we used in school. It made us feel young again. Here surprise was punctuated by the exclamation ‘What the fcuk!’ Using expletives was okay to show you still belonged to the group, and shared their sense of identity. The joke on the WhatsApp group was ‘After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF.’
As I swerved around the bend at Reis Magos fort, Nerul, Anthony said the sharp turns were so dangerous. Like Consua, I thought to myself.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 19 March 2017. Pix (Top) Anthony with the verdant fields of Consua, Goa in the background, 9 March 2017 ; (Centre) Schoolmates at Babazin, Nerul, 9 March 2017; (Below) Good times at Claudi's, Bogmalo, 6 March 2017.