They came back to Pascoal in Rumuruti. The place was no more
developed than when Esmeralda had left it. Little Sanoo was just
about four years old and his younger brother Tim, was a year junior.
Yet Sanoo has very vivid memories of that place. He recalls their
home there. The Government quarters they occupied consisted of a
block of three one-bedroom brick houses.
Here, side by side, dwelt the three Goan families: de Mello,
de Souza and Noronha. Happily they all lived in harmony, socialising
with occasional visits to one anothers home. In this isolated spot
where there were no clubs or any other form of entertainment for
adults and children, it had to be this way.
There were no schools for the children, so their playtime
had to be organised. At first little Sanoo played by himself,
running around the grounds dragging a long stick. And then his
mother got a bright idea and had a swing installed under a flame
tree just next to the house. How marvellous it was passing his time
swinging away! And at the same time mother could keep an eye on him.
She could not rely too much on servants. The locals did not take
easily to training. It was better to bring in servants from the not
too distant town of Nyeri which was in a better state of
Rumuruti had no church either. Pascoal and Esmeralda very
generously offered their home for the celebration of mass every
Sunday. A white priest and his assistant used to come on a huge
motor-cycle. This drew a large number: Goans, Africans and a few
Europeans congregated regularly. After Mass a very proper English
breakfast was prepared for the priests and the family.
What impressed Sanoo very forcefully during those early days
in Rumuruti was the aerodrome that lay within walking distance of
home. They could distinctly see its windsock fluttering steadily in
the direction of the prevailing wind. He remembers his boyish
excitement at the surprise of a twin- propellor plane all of a
sudden landing there one day. It was war-time; so far he had only
seen pictures of war-planes and even possessed a few toy models. But
to encounter a real war-plane at such close range - what a thrill
that was! Very understandingly his father actually took him and
Freddie, his young friend and neighbour, to the aerodrome. An
unforgettable experience for the two little boys!
Home being so conveniently close to office enabled Pascoal
to slip away occasionally to enjoy a nice warm bowl of warm chicken
broth that Esmeralda had prepared for his mid-morning
Sometimes he let young Sanoo accompany him back to the
office. The child liked to look around, to see the office- boy place
files bound with red tape on his father's desk. At noon they would
return home for lunch - a short nap, then Pascoal would return to
Even Tim, who was younger than his brother, has not
forgotten his father's routine. He used to bolt out when he spied
his Dad approach the house for lunch. What has curiously stayed in
his mind is the picture of Pascoal's fingers: always stained with
red ink though he vigourously scrubbed them before sitting down to
Pascoal's work-day usually ended at 4.30 p.m. He was home
for tea with his family, and Esmeralda always took the trouble to
personally prepare some simple goodies for this repast, like banana
fritters, hot bhajias, or chevda. Relaxed after his office
responsibilities, Pascoal took his sons in turn on his knee and fed
Then the four of them went out together for a stroll, the
dog "Fatu" in train. They usually chose to spend some time in the
cool of a lovely garden behind the District Commissioner's office.
It had a pretty pond surrounded with clumps of tiger lilies. One day
naughty little Sanoo mischievously shoved "Fatu" into the pond; his
parents were not amused. But fortunately for him the dog swam out
quite easily, shook himself dry and rejoined him at play.
Invariably the outing terminated at one of the stores of the
local Indian merchants who came regularly to Pascoal for their
trading permits and vehicle licences.Sanoo recalls the lorries and
trucks being of ex-British Army stock,and fitted with war-time
shades over the headlamps and dash-boards to avoid detection from
overhead bomber aircraft. With his ready gift for making friends
Pascoal would greet the merchant in his own lingo: "Kem che Mr.
Patel!". It was a good ice-breaker, and soon he and the Gujerati
shop-keeper were deep in conversation, familiarly discussing topics
of the day.
One evening at Jatu's Store a box of South African grapes
was being raffled. Little Sanoo was the winner; and from that day
his parents considered him endowed with "noshib"/ a lucky
Pascoal's association with the traders brought in perks for
the family. Though he did not own a car at the time, and there was
no public transport available, the merchants readily placed their
vehicles at his disposal. So he could take the family out on picnics
and excursions at weekends. Sometimes they did a little fishing or
duck hunting. Pascoal had a double-barrel shotgun and two spears
presented to him by some Masai warriors when he was serving in the
Northern Frontier District.
Pascoal & Cajetan Botelho in Rumuruti
One such outing took this family of four to the lumber town
of Thompson's Falls. There lived a merchant friend named Bachoo, who
used to send them a box of sweet red plums every Christmas during
their stay in Rumuruti. Thompson's Falls was a station on the then
Kenya and Uganda railway line. One day Pascoal pointed out to his
boys a passenger train with a dining car manned entirely by Goan
chefs and waiters.
On some occasions they took just an afternoon spin in a
truck over rugged, rocky roads to some remote outpost such as
Maralal. These roads were actually mere dirt tracks that left
billows of dust in the wake of a passing vehicle during the dry
season,or were simply impassable without wheel chains during the
rainy season. Pascoal was a careful organiser. He made sure that the
African driver had an assistant or two in case of a
However, Sanoo remembers one outstanding adventure. On a
return trip from Nyeri and Nanyuki in a trader's lorry, they were
stranded overnight in the vehicle because the road was wet and
slippery and the driver had carelessly left the wheel chains at
Rumuruti. The rear wheels of the lorry had spun huge ditches in the
road. Not to take any chances, it was decided that the party would
spend the night in the tarpaulin-covered truck.
Fortunately warm blankets had been brought along, or they
would have suffered intense cold that evening at such a high
altitude. They just dozed off.
At dawn a kindly white priest, who happened to be also
travelling in the same direction, stopped by. Learning of their
predicament, he took the family in his canvas- topped Model T Ford.
Sanoo noticed it was replete with running board and windshield
mounted klaxon, which became air-powered by pressing on a large
rubber bulb. Being a much lighter vehicle, it did not create
significantly large furrows in the still damp earth. They finally
made it back home, and topped off their adventure with a warm hearty
If the family were not out visiting, evenings at Rumuruti
followed a set pattern. There was no electricity, no television of
course. No Television of course, but there was the radio. Pascoal's
set was a PYE short-wave valve radio, and deriving its power from a
12- volt battery set under the table on which it was placed. The
antenna was hoisted on to a long pole several yards from the house.
While Esmeralda relaxed with her knitting Pascoal faithfully
listened to the BBC news.
Then followed the ritual family rosary, in keeping with the
well-known dictum: "the family that prays together, stays together."
Following that came dinner: a meat dish with potatoes, vegetables,
rice and "sorak"/ a plain curry! The "piece de resistance" was the
dessert - creme caramel, rice pudding or bread pudding!
And so to bed. Little Sanoo tucked in next to his Dad. He
enjoyed peeping under the blanket at the luminous dial of the big
Doxa wrist watch on his father's hand. It seemed to grow brighter,
and brighter, ....until his eyelids drooped, heavy with