I feel so proud and happy when I think of my childhood in a small little village. A home that comes to my mind is of thatched roof and mud walls before the new one was constructed with cement on the groundand tiles on the roof when I was three year old. Still I have a faint picture of the old one. Having two pairs of he-buffaloes was a luxury that time. Chickens all around, cattle that we loved, dogs that protected us and cats that gave company even while we recited the rosary was luxury and real wealth that gave so much joy. Today I feel nothing in the world will be able to bring it back. That every animal had a name and was taken care of very lovingly and they were like members of the family. Speaking to them always gave joy to us. Each one had a favourite one and would be more concerned towards it or more attention was given it when it came to feed them. Everyonein the family had to take turn when it came to feed, clean and farm.
Going to school was another exiting thing. Every morning after doing the part of work, feeding the animals, cleaning the house and farming days helping in doing some extra work we had to run to school. 8.30 am we left hose for school walking 4km. There was no road and narrow path between the fields, forest and crossing the streams we reached the school. Some of my cousins came to school crossing the river and at time floods made it to too dangerous for the little boat to cross the river and cousin stayed back and stayed with us. Those days there was no road and no vehicle. Passing through the narrow path, going through the forest, crossing the streams that would over flow in rain was very exciting. Today we only see boundary walls gates and roads. Whereas where ever there was log of wood as bridge to cross the stream today there is a concrete bridge, a narrow path between rocks and trees there is broad road. That beauty and excitement of the path is no more. Even if one wants to go throw that situation one will not be able to see that because things have changed so much and no more that same situation exist.
I remember a day I had new pair of slippers and I was trying to show off by walking on the edge of the stream saying that they have such a nice grip. I slipped fell and my new slippers were gone with the flood. Now reporting about them was biggest challenge. I won’t tell you the consequence of losing a new pair of slippers. That was the system of correction in every family. Even once dosing while reciting rosary will result in a bump that will not heal in a week so no one will think of sleeping during any activity.
The amount of rain that was there is no more to be seen. Amount of fish that was seen in the river and even in the fields when the water receded after the rain is no more to be seen. I had to pass through one of our neighbours house ,Castelinos they had too many dogs crossing their house was fearful task to everyone. Those dogs will come chasing and fearful all the time. Then comes Jaggu Shetty house his three sons everyday went to manage his shops. Fastest way to reach school was to run behind them. Bala the youngest was my friend and gave me company while going to school. There were families who offered water to drink and were friendly. There were some very hostile would chase people who dare to knock at them. Instead of going through the path we would at times run through the field and use short cuts and some owners of the fields were angry at us and chase us. Every day walking through those spaces, fields, forest and through the heart of nature and at times fear of snakes and wild animals was exiting. Sometimes stealing some mangoes, throwing stones at tamarin tree and getting chases for doing that brought in more excitement to the journey.
In the school some teachers were very treacherous we always prayed that in the next grade we should not be in that teacher s class. Some were known for punishing brutally everyone had to undergo some time or the other some punishment. For Christians we had to face the parish priest too. If a catholic failed we had to go and stand before the parish priest and explain to him why you failed and ready to face the stick.
As altar boys daring to stand before the parish priest was still more exiting. Only those who were more mischievous and dared to face the priest became altar boys. When priest came home some fear, shame and respect kept every one away from meeting him rather children preferred to stay behind the closet. Those who did not come for one mass during the week will get one beating and after the mass on special occasions we also got treat. We were also taken to picnics by the priest, which attracted us in spite of the stick becoming an altar boy. Sometimes I remember we purposely made him angry so that he gets the shtick out and then we will say it was not me someone else who played mischief.
All those thoughts and fun that we had makes me feel happy and excited. We were so close to nature and all our games and fun was so much close to nature. There were not so much things but we invented things from the nature to play. Some seeds, a piece of wood, leaves, stones and animals were so much part of our play, entertainment and fun. I feel so sorry that I am missing all that today and will never be able to see it again.
-Fr. Deepak Oswald D’Souza, Moodubelle