So they called them the Carmelite monks of Pajifond. My grandmother’s house was just a three minute walk away from their monastry. An imposing exposed laterite structure atop Paji hill with the later addition of a modern church built after Vatican II with the altar fronting tge congregation, perhaps the first in Margao at the time.
I literally grew up with the monks. From age 6 onwards, all the way until 23, i served mass at the Carmelite Monastry. I even studied in a room given to me. They would even invite me for meals with them ( The sketch is just an exageration of the dining hall, but the ‘story’ it tells is true…simple timber tables with benches. Food served in earthen vessels. No talking whilst eating. Just listen to the Word of God being read by a lector).
The Carmelites grew vegetables and flowers in their garden. They even had cashew and mango trees. A lone cinamon tree stood guarding the entrance of their kitchen.
The cook was my friend and many times, he would allow me to taste some meat curry with a chapati. The cooker was one of a kind- a monstrous wrought iron chest with compartments for firewood beliw and holes on the top to keep the pots. Santarita, the kitchen help would always be heard quarelling with the cook!
My friends (altar boys) and i would collect cashew nuts in season and count them sitting on top of the cemetry wall. In those days there were only three graves and we were told by our parents that the dead monks were saints. Thus we were never afraid to go there. Also, i must say, the place was really quiet and peaceful too!
I will always miss Fr. Anthony Silver, a great preacher and my personal ‘guru’. Others who played an important part in my life were – Fr. Simon Stock, Fr. Anastasio, Fr. John of the Cross, Fr. Berchmans, Fr. Dolphy, Fr. Bragança, Fr Gregory and the brothers… Nicholas and Alex. Truly wonderful souls!
The ‘porteiro’ ( Sabastião) was a dear friend who played excellent Table Tennis and carrom with his left hand ( Right hand was affected with polio). Every holiday was spent playing carrom from morning till late evening, taking a break only when defeated. The losers would then play TT.
Then there were the Legion of Mary girls to eye. The older girls and boys would meet at the Catholic Youth Association. The free medical checkup and pharmacy that they started, runs even to this day!
I believe every girl and boy who was part of the monastry’s sodalities, enjoys the blessings of the old monks to this day!