Hungry Boarder

Mea Culpa (maxima)! Yes, I confess. Hey what could I (we) do, we always seemed to be hungry. With little or no pocket money, buying extras from Bro Pinerio (a great artist) was out of the question. So was buying during school from Master Gregory’s canteen. He and his son Nobert were on the look out for flickers.(But yet we managed to add a hand to a boy in the front, while Master Gregory looked on in amazement at this boy with three hands. One hand steadied himself. One hand held out his coins. And the third hand helped itself to a handful of peanuts. But Master Gregory got it back in kind when we helped him with the annual crib.

I was a dedicated altar boy whose antics were legends. Like my skirt falling off in full sight of the girls in St. Joseph’s convent. Or falling from the altar steps with the Gospel. But we did serve the earliest masses in the priest’s chapel, while all the boarders attended the 6.25 am mass. That left us with a gap of free time which as luck would have it at times were on those rare days when a small lump of butter was put on every gutli for the boarder’s breakfast. Now I just took a speck of butter from everyone’s gutli and applied it inside mine with my small lump of butter sitting innocently on top. After all they would not miss a small speck, would they? Don’t expect me to tell you how we flicked jam and cheese. But then we were always hungry.

In due course of time I and my motley crew grew into young men that could be pointed at when commenting on how well they fed you in the boarding. Of course I felt guilty and went to confession not knowing it was Fr. Soler listening. Of course he was hard of hearing and he raised his voice asking ‘what did you say?” and thus all the boarders turned their gaze towards us knowingly, as I tried my best to appear invisible.

The refectory for the boarders was a long hall, with long tables to seat about eight to twelve boys on long benches. On the table were I guess, galvanized plates which appeared to have been used in the WW II. Tea was served in bowls of the same metal. Generally two large vessels were placed on the table. One with rice and the other with curry. Not enough to feed hungry boarders, but then as I told you we found a way.

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