2010 to 1960: Back to the Past
Written by RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR
Saturday, 09 January 2010 00:04
The Navhind Times,Goa.
If the lengthy separation of forty individuals who had spent seven eventful years of their life in each others company can be termed as destiny, then their reunion after half-a-century should certainly be described as a miracle. And such miracle did take place in the city on January 6, when forty out of the 90-odd students belonging to the 1960 batch of the Liceu Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque, the premier educational institution for higher studies during the Portuguese era, gathered to celebrate the golden jubilee of their school memories.
The nostalgic congregation had former ‘Lyciumites’ arriving from as far as America and Europe, and proving that though they lived in 2010, their hearts still resided in 1960, when they bid adieu to each other and went in search of better future in the then not-so-bad world.
Mr Antonio Soares, one such student, now in his late sixties and settled in London for the past 40 years said that he is attending the gathering because he loves Goa. “After completing my education at Lycium, I went to Lisbon for further study; however, Goa was soon liberated and I had to move from Portugal to Germany,” Mr Soares stated, informing that he eventually decided to settle in England. “But after visiting various places all over the world, being in Goa is absolutely wonderful,” he said.
Mr Frederico Brito, another student of the batch however, not only stayed in Goa but also remained stuck to his residence at Altinho, interestingly, in the vicinity of the Lycium, which has now been converted into the High Court complex. “After passing out of Lycium, I was directly admitted to BA and subsequently completed my MA at the post graduation centre, in early 1970s,” Mr Brito said, mentioning that he recently retired as chief trunk supervisor, after 40 years of service in BSNL.
Mr Brito further informed that the former rector of Lycium, Mr Cardozo Margarido, who went back to Portugal after Goa’s Liberation, used to come to Goa every year. “He would put up a chair and sit near the Lycium building, and get lost in the memories of the bygone days,” Mr Brito revealed, pointing out that Mr Nuno Vassallo e Silva, the grandson of the last Governor General of Portuguese India, General Manuel António Vassalo e Silva, who is presently in charge of the antique section of the Portugal-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is his good friend and occasionally visits Goa.
The grand gathering of the ‘Class of 1960’ was however made possible by the three students of the batch - Mr Homem Cristo P da Costa, Mr Alberto Rebeiro Silveira and Mr Vasco de Souza - all presently settled in Germany.
Mr Silveira told this daily that he established contact with most of his classmates through e-mails. “However, getting their e-mail addresses was a Herculean task,” he remarked, further informing that one of the students of the particular batch, residing in Vasco, was keen to attend the get-together, but died few days ago. Mr Silveira also mentioned that a mini get-together of the students of the particular batch, now staying in Portugal, was held at Casa de Goa, in Lisbon on September 26, 2009.
Dr Maria Jose Piedade Rego, a Portuguese language teacher and Father Arnolfo Mazarello, who taught religion to the ‘Class of 1960’ also attended the January 6 meet.
Dr Sydney Pinto Rosario, yet another student of the batch said that he had to stay back in Goa and study medicine, as his father ran a hospital. “In fact, the medical course had me studying pathology from Portuguese books, physiology from Spanish books, anatomy from French books and surgery from English books,” he recalled.
Another Margao-based doctor, Dr Kisan Sanzgiri informed that he was compelled to stay in Goa as he had a family as well as property here. “Since I completed my medical course in Portuguese, I had to face really tough UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) interview at Delhi, before being inducted as a health officer in the department of health,” the now retired medical superintendent noted.
Ms Emma Proença, wife of noted Goan paediatrician, Dr Aleixo Proença recollected that a substantial number of girls studied at the Lycium during 1950s. “However, very few of them went for the medical course at the Escola Medico Cirurgica da Goa,” she added.
The emotion-filled evening witnessed various activities ranging from photographic presentations of the Lycium days to sharing of jokes and sentimental speeches to entertainment programme, which included Portuguese songs by Dr Francisco Colaço, a ‘mando’ by Ms Ananta Hedo and dance by Dr Eduardo and Ms Sushila Fonseca.
It was quite interesting to observe the ‘Old Lycium students’ conquer time and defy age as the collage of black and white memories turned multi-coloured, providing them a rare opportunity to get a whiff of their precious, formative years. It appeared as if time had almost been frozen, with the ‘Class of 1960’ moving back to the past; a dream the batch wanted to achieve for the last 50 years.