I’m watching the Pope being laid to rest. The cardinals in red, the millons in the Square, on the roads, the Presidents, Prime Ministers and other dignitaries and we who watch at home, pay tribute to this man who was part of our lives somehow even though we never knew him personally. The mass has begun, the choir singing the entrance hymn, the Vatican flag at half-mast; it’s a very poignant moment for most Christians, Catholic and otherwise. It is the end. It is the beginning.
Earlier this week, I got news that LC, our erstwhile school headmaster also died after a battle with cancer. My memories of LC are of a strict man, always disciplining the boys (for they were unruly!). But he was someone we could go to with a complaint or a problem and he would listen. He also encouraged teachers and students to be innovative. I remember he introduced a ‘news reading’ program where students from the higher classes took turns to read the daily news headlines on the school intercom from where it was relayed to each classroom. That was an exercise in public speaking, in getting us to share our voice with others, in pronounciation and general knowledge. Of course, at that time, it only meant getting house points and getting out of class for a few minutes :). My most cherished memory of LC is of when my father died. This man wrote us a letter then, sharing our grief and taking the trouble to ‘be’ with us even though he wasn’t close to us in anyway. That was a gesture I have never forgotten. I met him again after decades at a close friend’s (and for him, former student’s) ordination last year. He remembered us and the family and the classmates. He seemed the same and I had no inkling of the cancer that was chewing him up. I hope he died without much pain.