I began my tryst with St Aloysius School in 1986 when Fr JB Frank and Fr Peter Pinto were headmasters, followed by Fr JB Mendonca and Fr Celestine Sera. Ours was unique batch. There were too many bright sparks born in 1980 and our parents were all seeking admission at the school. So that year the management decided to have two batches of the English medium class as an exception and were 100 of us who were mixed and matched. I want to acknowledge all our teachers, some of whom are present here. There were many others who have either retired or have passed away including my mother – the late Ethel Prabhu who taught me many things – among them two that stand out are to be fearless and helpful.
The ten years at school was a breeze as we had men and women to guide us who came from the pre-digital era. They scolded us, pulled us up, made fun of us but the dearly loved us. They treated us like we were their own. One teacher once went to the extent to call us Daari Thappida Makkalu (Kids who have lost their way) in jest. Today, we batchmates have a WhatsApp group by that name. We played pranks, we studied hard, we won prizes and we did everything boys in their teens and pre-teens did.
Today, the opportunities are much more and the ways to access them are far easier, thanks to the internet. I’m not going to spend more time talking of the past. Neither will I delve on the present. The present has a lot of girls as well I see. I want to share with you what you can do to make your future strong and bright. I was lucky to find mentors within the school and outside in planned and unplanned ways who helped me fulfil most of my dreams because I practiced the art of making choices. Choices that make me happy and keep me grounded. We all may feel we are getting lost at times. Sometimes we indeed get lost. I’m going to share a ten-step formula that you may use to not get lost. It’s called the St Aloysius formula that I coined. When I look back at the last 23 years of my life since I moved out of high school, I realise this formula helped me become the happiest person I know.
How not to get lost: (especially for achievers)
- Stay humble – don’t let achievements get into your head
- Take pride in all that you do – however small, when you do things honestly just keep going
What to do when you think you are getting lost: (this is for everyone)
- Always be passionate – follow your heart and be mindful
- Live and let live (do not thrive on someone else’s downfall)
- Optimistic is the way to be – there is no other way to live; [Never give up, never give in]
- You are the master of your mind (only you can decide what you want; the sky is the limit)
- Seek knowledge – reading, meeting, observing never stops; [Do that with no expectations]
- Inspire confidence – by being empathetic to the lesser privileged, voiceless and marginalised)
- Usher happiness – it is your first right and your first duty wherever you go; [It is easy]
- Shine on (because the school motto calls for that – Lucet et Ardet which is the title of my speech)
I’m going to spend a few moments talking about this.
We will have choices every step of the way. Choices of subjects to choose in college, choices of friends to make, choices of the career path to choose, choices of the partner to have, choices of how to save money, choices of where to go on a holiday. The list is endless. We can leave these to chance, or we can do our homework well and make a choice that we believe is the best for us based on a mix of research and gutfeel. We may go wrong at times. Some of those choices we will have to live with and some we will be able to fix. The most important aspect is that we will need to sharpen our minds all the time which will help us gain clarity and enable us in making the right choices. And then chase them. The only way to do so is through hard work done smartly. The more we focus on what we want the more confident we become during the process. And generally, more confident people are happier people. And happier people shine and end up brightening and enlightening others. That too me is Lucet Et Ardet – our school’s motto. So, let us take a daily personal pledge to be the happiest person we know and radiate that happiness to others.
I shall end now with a closing poem. Before I recite it, I want to share with you my contact details so that whenever you need to reach out to an older brother you can.
A rhyme of love to my alma mater
St Aloysius is our second home which gives us all the skills to thrive
Making us people filled with passion and an unusual drive.
Gratitude is all we can show to those who made us what we are
Each day in our own way trying in everything we do to raise the bar.
Our future is being built on this Light House Hill
Through teachers, through books and in the everyday drill.
Let us never forget everyone who helped us along the way
Because that connection makes us strong and will forever stay.
We spend many precious years in this iconic institution
Let it groom us be to be to others a worthy inspiration.
Humility and passion, we must draw from our school’s great crest
There is no other way of being the best.
Paying it forward is the least we can do, as we move on from here
St Aloysius School and our teachers we will always hold you dear.
(A speech delivered by the author at his alma mater in Mangalore on its 140th annual day)