Personal Tributes
to Pascoal

Family Trees

About the Author



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 development.

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!

Family life

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 break.

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 the office.

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 eat.

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 them.

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 streak.

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 breakdown.

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 breakfast.

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 sleep.

 Back to Contents Go Top