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Those were the days By Eric Motha
Those were the days By Eric Motha

It was the year 1950 and our Form V classroom adjacent to the belfry and tennis court which produced National Tennis Champion Lasantha Fernando.

Our revered class teacher, an epitome of prayer and discipline was Rev. Bro. Alexander, a youthful Lasalle Brother commencing his stint as a teacher with an avowed commitment to impart Religio, Mores, Cultura into the young students entrusted to his care. “Remember that you are in the holy presence of God” was the spiritual admonition beamed out every 45 minutes lest we lost sight of our spiritual tryst.

The classmates who come to mind in the labyrinth of my recollections are: MAM Abubucker, Amrit Lal Chand, Elmo Young, Douglas Jones, Desmond Heliams, Lucian Ernest, Filbert Embuldeniya, Morley Fernando, George Rodrigo, Boris Marks, Allan Smith (from ‘old blighty’) Pontinus Hiller, Jerry Ramanaden, Maria Nevis Francis Pulle (the chap with the poetic tag), Nelson Rogers made immortal by Maxwell Soysa with his poem ‘The Restless Curl’!

I recollect one of the text books in use was ‘The Country of the Blind’. In retrospect our class was a veritable mix of scholars and scoundrels with Jerry, Elmo, & Desmond amongst the latter. The unlucky Filbert was never a winner falling a hapless victim to the 3-card game at every turn. It was the same fate that awaited him when it came to cricket calling it wrong when the coin was tossed in the air! Douglas and his team thus batted first and in impish schoolboy fashion ‘scooted’ off leaving Filbert and his mates in disarray sans any bowlers/fielders. The team members who left were at the grounds gleefully watching the first eleven cricketers in action.

Abu, late Amrit, Lucian, Morley, George, Douglas & I were among those counted in as exemplary students. Boris, a National swimming celebrity and Allan Smith who left College because he copped a lot of flak from the bunch of no-hopers among us. The trio from Mutwal, Douglas, Elmo & Desmond ate kadala with their bus fare and trudged home on the bund in Bloemendhal Road and shot every katusa & crow at first sight! These fellows were ‘crack shots’ with their home made catapults-whether this trait carried them through in later years is a matter of conjecture! Lucian, the hosteller from little Rome was a reputed marble player and in challenging him poor Douglas more often than not carried many a bloated knuckle as evidence of his mediocrity. It was a common sight for us to play lots of adi-ki-jang under the shade of the majestic Banyan tree, a veritable landmark to every Benedictine-so much for schoolboy frolics!

Traversing down memory lane, my thoughts take wing to some of the teachers around whom our student life centred-for better or worse! We begin the odyssey with Felix Fernando (Myna) whose reputation as a good Maths teacher was nullified by his rather derisive demeanour. Capt. Joachim (Jokka) Mendis (CCB) erect as one could be brooked no nonsense- “You bring your rowdies and I bring mine”- ready for confrontation with the unruly in his class. Major Douglas Chapman another of the military brigade whose forte was English had a penchant to favour some at the expense of losing the goodwill of the majority. We occasionally witnessed Herman Candappa, clad in white and sporting his rimmed spectacles, sneak into our territory and treat us like Kindergarten students possibly to satiate his ego! - some of us had our initiation in Latin (Mensa, Mensae) under him. We can ill afford to forget pint-sized (Hitler).

The 50’s were a great era for sports with our teams excelling at Hockey & Soccer. The first Captain of the College Hockey X1 was Dennis De Rosayro and College had a very promising debut with Rienzie Rupasinghe, Augustine Alles, Leslie Saverimuttu, Francis Le Grand, Benson & LP Rayen and Stanley Vaz. I felt privilaged to be in the team with them. In the realm of Soccer we had our stars in T. Navaratnarajah, his brother T.(Bana) Rajaratnam, E. N. (Nithy) Nicholas, CJ & LPS Fernandez and Isaac Wenaden between the posts.

Our class of 1950 was memorable as it paved the way for our academic progress veering towards the SSC and beyond or seek greener pastures in the wide world around us. Some of our classmates are now in the land beyond and the others wherever they are domiciled strive to maintain the bonds of Benedictinity and walk down memory lane reminiscing of the ‘good old days’

The memories linger!

Courtesy: Sydney Bens Dance Souvenir 2007
 Posted by webmaster on September 01 2007 10:33:40 · 1 Comments · 2283 Reads Print
Comments
Ranjan Rosairo on October 02 2008 03:01:25
Very interesting article. Herman Candappa and Felix Fernando were also my class teachers.
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