MANUEL FRANCISCO D’CRUZ
Doyen of Education in Moira
Born on October 15, 1910, Manuel Francisco D’Cruz, founder and ex-Principal of
St.Xavier’s High School, Moira, in an exclusive tete-tete with Glenis D’Souza and
Gordon Mendonca, discloses his convictions and sweet-sour experiences.
Q. What inspired you to establish the St. Xavier’s High School, Moira?
D’CRUZ: 1930 was the world’s worst recession. It was impossible to get a job of even Rs.15/- per month. When I did my Lycium and passed my matriculation, my father had no means to encourage me to continue my studies. Naturally, I was restricted to my home (with a smile). Fortunately, I was inclined to teach and as such the best avenue for me to spend my life was to go in for teaching. I knew teaching was the noblest of professions and the teacher was nothing less than an underpaid orphan of this society with no individuality of his own — by and large, a mere “teacher”. (chuckles) They say, fools rush to places where angels fear to tread. I did the same; embarked upon an over ambitious academic venture inspite of my educational deficiency. And to make matters worse, I founded a school in Moira –supposedly, a land of fools !
Q. In your opinion, are Moidecars really foolish?
D’CRUZ: (with a toothy grin) Moidecars are largehearted people and my constant association with them has taught me this. They would create consciously, deliberately, wittingly, incongrous scenes and situations…. to laugh with their friends at their own cost. Their humour is democratic. It is the sunshine of their heart, the rarest quality one ever sees. And their children I found to be husky of nature, though impetuous and impulsive, yet diligent–bringing great honour to my institution by winning prizes even in the University of Bombay. Teaching thus became a passion and I never cared for financial returns. It gave me spiritual satisfaction…. I recall (with a deep sense of nostalgia) being left bankrupt materially. I felt like an unconscious fool in the hands of God, who could write straight on crooked lines and can use wrong people to do right things.
Q. Your ex-students from different walks of life, from far and wide still remember you. They send you warm regards and gifts. How does it feel?
D’CRUZ:: Nowadays, gratitude seems to be a rare commodity. When my students send me gifts after so many years, I feel very happy. They express the finest quality of heart, nobility of swoul–gratitude! It makes me proud to say that besides academic education, I was able to inculcate in them spiritual and moral values that made life worth living. Today, we have academic robots but without souls; we have teachers and professors but lacking in personality. And, if we fail to bridge up this lacunae, society will churn out men without soul.
Q. What are your views on the Modern generation?
D’CRUZ: (a serious look) Modern generation is not bad at all. They are basically very good people, and we can capitalize their goodness by directing them in proper ways. Education means to prepare a child for life and livelihood. Education is not mere knowledge and information; knowledge but initiative also, information coupled with outlook. Modern generation is very ambitious. Some turn out to be dropouts and addicts because parents fail to give proper education.
Q. What in your opinion, is the role of father, mother and children in a family?
D’CRUZ: The father is responsible for preparing the home-fire burning and has to co-operate with the mother to bring up the children. Mother is a responsible pillar of the family, reorienting the family by devoting her time at home. Children are the golden link in the mystic chain of humanity, connecting the past with future by their presence. They are the rising sun, blooming flowers of the garden, gurgling waters of the fountain, the hope of tomorrow. It is the solemn duty of the man and wife to prepare them to carry the torch of culture they have inherited.
Q. How does it feel to be aged? How do you cope up with the problems of old age?
D’CRUZ: (smiles) I know, I have reached “the evening low of life”. The greatest misfortune of old age is loneliness. You are like an old discarded boot in the attic. Young people should be in contact with aged. Secondly, however old you are, you should be enthusiastic. ‘Enthusiastic’ in Greek derivation means “God within you” Believing in God, and forever remaining cheerful and happy, life should be led with a smile.
Q. What is your secret to longevity?
D’CRUZ: (laughs and speaks for a long time on this topic… here are the highlights)
Hippocrates, the father of Medical Science himself never made use of medicines. Moderation and sobriety was the key to a long and healthy life. Secondly, like a Gandhian, I believe in escape from worry, belief in God and a deep love and respect for my fellow human beings.
Q. What is your message to your ex-students and all who value your priceless advice?
D’CRUZ: Remember my students, that you are dated figures. You are not permanent in this world. If you reflect, you will realise that life is short compared to the length of eternity. But still you may contribute something to the human caravan. Act sincere to self and sincere to others. “Action of the just smells sweet and blossoms with us”. Remember the lines of W.H. Longfellow : “Lives of great men remind us that we can make our lives sublime, and parting leaves behind us footprints in the sands of time….” I want every student of mine to leave behind footprints for posterity to follow. Never be materialistic. I am the poorest of the poor man….I’m not over-anxious. Be positive in mind. Be like an optimist falling from ten storey down, still shouting at his friend on each window bar–I’m alright so far!