Nairobi: breathing new life into memories of Eastleigh/town schools


St Teresa’s, Catholic Parochial School Reunion 2015

'The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.', 'It is very risky.’– Outstanding children’s author Lois Lowry. I would add the sharing breathes life into a memory and keeps the flame alive. The St Teresa’s and CPS ex-students in the UK and elsewhere do a bloody good job of the keeping that sacred flame of our Kenyan childhoods alive and burning brightly. The reunions to date have done exactly that and it was no different on July 19, 2015 in Croydon UK.

At the very outset allow me, with infinite humility and pride, to thank everyone who shared in some way or a very large way in making possible the celebration. I am even more humbled by the way old friends welcomed me and together we trundled again down the streets of Eastleigh and those classrooms that filled us with a whole gamut of emotions, sometimes pain, sometimes joy, always plenty of laughter, learning and good humour.

I had almost made the mistake of not coming but my brother Johnny and Greg Carvalho quickly showed the potential error ahead if I did so. I am absolutely delirious that I bowed to their wisdom.

To start with there was a stellar organising committee: Norma Menezes Rahim, Greg Carvalho, Larry Fernandes, Aires Fernandes, Cresent Fernandes and Uniece Barros. The bulk of the work was done by Greg and Joan, Norma, Larry and Brenda, and, in the background, TonyJo Fernandes provided  plenty of valuable support. Another important helper was Joe Gomes in Sydney, Australia who did most of the design work (work, sadly, kept him away from the function). Greg and Joe spent many a midnight hour on the phone and the computer working things out.

 Anticipation is sometimes like bursting to go to the loo. No sooner had Father Tony Fernandes had said Mass, Norma was greeting everyone and the celebrations were already underway. Some of you may remember some of the teachers present: Alvira Almeida, Caroline Alpin (hubby Poggy is looking even younger), Joanita Alvares, Georgina De Souza, Ilda Dias, Sister Muriel De Souza, Ophilda De Souza, Jeanette Fernandes (my own favourite), Sophie Lobo, Danny Mahadevan and the delightful Regina Pereira who provided a quick glimpse into the students’ past from her point of view. She was delightful, I thought.

One of the highlights of the day was the cutting of the cake to mark the golden anniversary of the Class of 65: Ron Almeida and Maureen Pinto did the honours.

In recent memory, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed so much, danced so much, laughed so much and celebrated the camaraderie that was but a fading memory.

The first guy I met was Tony D’Costa and I met his brother Jason a little later. But it was Eric Simon who really caught my eye. He was on stage tuning up his guitar (where else). Not much later, I met Sheila Peters, Martha Jones, and Alex Fernandes, his wife Dahlia, and his great buddy and Roving Rovers goalkeeper Dickie Burke. Going back 60 years, here was a treasure trove of memories to be feasted on.

I had met Alvira and Donald, and my best friend Steven Caito Fernandes (and Marjorie, son Mel at their home) (Steve is still the greatest Joker of them all) the previous day at a function in Welling. On this bucket list journey, Alvira, Steve, Alex, Walter Rodrigues, Filu Mazor were high only the list as well as my classmates Alex Rebello, Foxy D’Silva (my mate from standard two and met his family at a delightful lunch earlier), Peter Lobo, Ronnie Gunputrav (with his brother Vincent, very special friends), Orlando Almeida, neighbour Abel Lobo, who I had met at a delightful lunch at Kings Cross earlier.

There were other bonuses: Martha and Bento Braganza and his brother Ancet, Luis Gracias, Gerry and Leo (drummer) Rodrigues, Irene and Tony Fernandes, Gaby and Lily Menezes (introduced me real Kenya kebabs at Lahore in Tooting Broadway), Veron and Cajie De Souza, Ruby and Anthony Fernandes, Gaspar (one of my oldest friends) his wife and his younger brother Peter Rodrigues, Yvonne Gomes, Thelma D’Costa, Filu D’Souza, Andrew (drummer) Fernandes, Reeda D’Souza, Bona Menezes, TonyJo Fernandes, Nizar Hassanali (always the jolliest guy in the room), David Lobo (drummer from the Wheelers band, later played with Cooty, I think), Polly D’Souza, drummer, played with Cooty, Aquillino and Tony Dourado, Domnic D’Silva (Foxy’s brother), Bunny (whose aunt Lucy used to coach me in various subjects) and Cancio Fernandes … a whole lot of others whose names, I am so ashamed to say I cannot remember (old age to blame). My biggest apologies to the girls I knew and cannot now recall your names. Sorry.

One last name, a special favourite of mine: that handsome Carvalho, Johnson, was busy serving in the bar and I noticed is not in a single photograph. Brother Greg was too busy with everything else. But he did make time to make a stirring speech reviewing the past and setting a vision for the future of the reunion. Could not be in better hands, me thinks.

The Music was great (even better when Eric Simon was playing, but then I am biased. Also good to see Andrew dururu still making music with the skins), the food was delicious, the atmosphere was stunning, the conversations breathed new life into memories, and the dancing delicious, even romantic sometimes. What more could we ask for? OH the common complaint is “too many speeches, too long.” Some things have to be persevered with.

Regrets? Sins of omission: the two girls I met in Welling, danced with them at the Reunion and forgot to ask their names (got them, Zemira Mendonca and cheeky Irene Lobo, please contact if you read this). Old age! Ahhhh! And yes I did meet the girl I had a crush on and had never told her before! This aspect of my bucket list is almost done.

God bless everyone who made the day possible. Thanks from a very happy old man.

Ron Almeida, Iggy Tavares, Joe Gomes, Greg & Larry are maintaining the following website where you can view the July 2015 photos and reminisce your school days.
 
They would love you to send any photos that you may have to enhance the website to keep the ex-students in touch but PLEASE let them also have the names of those on the photo.
 
Please Click on the link.