GP CAPT ACHCHYUT KUMAR discovers some of the little-known facts about the co-founder of THE TEENAGER, on a visit to his birthplace.
It is the fourth day of September 2009. I reach Karwar from Mumbai along with Anand Kumar Pandey, a Chief General Manager in the Reserve Bank of India but with me today because we studied together in the same class, in St. Joseph’s School, Allahabad; we hire an auto-rickshaw to reach the church where our accommodation has been arranged. We decide to call the same auto-rickshaw after a couple of hours to see a few places in Karwar as another of our school classmates, Colonel Prem Kumar Shetty from Mangalore was to join us shortly.
The three of us were there on a pilgrimage — to attend a church service in connection with the 25th death anniversary of our headmaster, Fr Aloysius G. Rego — one of the founding editors of THE TEENAGER. The church service was slated to start at 4.00 p.m. the same day and I was to enjoy the extended privilege of speaking about him for six minutes to the crowd after the church service; a difficult proposition as summing up our headmaster’s achievements in just six minutes was perhaps as difficult as packing a full-grown elephant into an 18-inch-suitcase.
As we went around Karwar and conversed, the auto-rickshaw driver was also enlightened about the purpose of our visit. Much to our surprise, when we finished our outing, he refused to take any money from us. We had to make some serious effort and prevail over him to accept the fare due to him.
About an hour and a half before the church service was to start, it started raining heavily and I was disappointed that the church service would be a washout, but when I entered the church at the appointed time, I was more than surprised to see that it was packed far beyond its seating capacity. I was wrong in my assessment, as I was to learn soon, Fr Rego, due to his large heart and concern for the people around him, had a following that had not been eroded over the years. His tomb is the only one inside the church compound as a mark of reverence with which the people of Karwar hold him to date.
I had my share of six minutes from the rostrum and thought that it would be the end of it but what followed was beyond belief. No sooner were the formal proceedings of the evening over, I was surrounded by a crowd who wanted to know more about Fr Rego. However, a call from the Bishop to come for dinner saved me from what, perhaps, could have been an endless session with the crowd that had surrounded me.
I have written several articles on Father Rego and about his achievements as an educationist with a vision and how he transformed the lives of many who brushed shoulders with him. This article in his fond memory had to be different. That he was an educationist par excellence is just a miniscule part of his lifetime achievements, more importantly, despite years of his absence, he continues to live in the hearts of thousands in a corner of gratitude and veneration. It, perhaps, sums up everything that the present generation needs to know about our unforgettable headmaster.
Gp Capt Achchyut Kumar has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 50 years; initially as a reader and later as a contributor on varied topics. Having worked in the Indian Air Force and in India’s oldest company, Forbes & Company Limited, he is now practising as a lawyer in Nainital High Court.