December 24, 2009

Publicans pay respects to Lady Proctor Catherine Val D' Eremao on Christmas Eve


Trustees of the Publican Alumni Trust alongwith a number of Old Publicans visited Lady Proctor Catherine Val D' Eremao on Christmas Eve.


Pictures of the event as well as a report on the proceedings by Javed Jabbar are posted below. To view these pictures, click on one of the Library Buttons below.



Report by Javed Jabbar


Dear fellow Publicans,


Salaams and greetings.


1. On Christmas Eve, 24th December 2009, 13 Publicans representing different Classes of our original School paid respects to one of the great teachers of our time, Ms. Val D'Eremao now at the ripe young age of 87. She resides at the St. Joseph's House for the Aged, Maryville, 372, Kandawala Road, Garden East, off Business Recorder Road, near Guru Mandir, Karachi (Tel: 021-32258243).


2. We first gathered at the gate of the F.G. Minwalla Girls' Public School a 3:30 p.m. and proceeded to our destination together, with some of us reaching there directly.


3. Those who were able to make the visit are: Sabiha Pervaiz, Nighat Mir, Asif Hussain (Class of 1963, visiting from Vancouver, Canada), Waseem Ghani, Ashraf Kapadia, Shamim Riaz, Syed Ayaz Mahmood, Amir Khan, S. M. Babar, Javed Iqbal, Tariq Siddiqui (Class of 1973), Dr. Masroor Afreedi, and the undersigned.


4. Other Publicans in Karachi unable to join us sent their warm regards.


5. In a street of semi-old Karachi, now dominated by high-rise apartment buildings, there is preserved this island of tranquillity for Christian citizens of Pakistan who have no family home, and who can afford to pay for either their own boarding and lodging (e.g. a modest Rs.6,500/- to Rs.5,500/- per month for a room with an attached bathroom, and meals) or are subsidized, in a facility that is part of the Church order to which this Home belongs.


6. Ms. Val D'Eremao was seated in a wheel chair in conversation with Trustee Nighat Mir who had already arrived ahead of us.


7. Our great teacher of English now bears a regal crown of snow-white hair. Her eyes are alert and lively. Her voice is clear and vibrant. Though now thinner than she was and infirm, she remains as distinct and as special as always. Her memory is weakened and sporadic but she does recall some voices and names. Amongst the parts of her life she recalls clearly and frequently are the days as a student in a college in Lucknow, India and her years in Pakistan at Public School, Karachi Cantonment.


8. On behalf of all Publicans, the under-signed paid respects and offered our profound apologies for the long time it has taken for us to resume contact with her. Acknowledgment was made of the valuable role rendered by Syed Ayaz Mahmood, S. M. Babar, Javed Iqbal and other Publicans of the Class of 1974, who had made a special effort to trace her whereabouts.


9. The Home comprises a fairly large (about a 2000 sq. yd. plus plot) on which stands a pre-1947 structure of a spacious building donated to the Home and a semi-circular string of rooms with a long veranda in which reside the 24 residents, most of whom are in their 70s/80s.


10. The place is managed ably by a dedicated team of Sisters led by Sister Magdalene. There is a spacious lawn, a TV parlour, a dining room now colourfully decorated for Christmas and a peaceful chapel for prayers.


11. After prior consultation with the Sisters about relevant needs, we presented a micro-wave oven, 6 emergency lights, individual gifts for each resident, a Christmas cake and a greeting card on behalf of all Publicans in honour of Ms. Val D'Eremao in particular. We also presented her with a copy of the Alumni Year Book 2009 edited by Nighat Mir to be formally launched at the Annual Reunion Event on 23 January 2010 which contains a fine tribute to her by Syed Ayaz Mahmood and her photograph. Through Syed Ayaz Mahmood the Class of 1974 also presented an electric juice-making machine for the Home. She expressed her warm thanks and wanted us to convey her prayers and love to all Publicans everywhere.


12. The touch of her hand, the smile on her face, the light in her eyes all at once evoked vivid memories filling us with both the joy of remembrance, and the sadness that memory and time bring with them.


13. We proudly posed for photograph with Ms. Val D'Eremao even as we recaptured the moments of learning and growing which we shared under her tutelage.


14. Alone and lonely in the city of millions, here is a woman of true substance, with hundreds of former students around the world who benefited from her teaching.


15. After wishing her and all other residents Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, we departed with promises that we will keep in touch in the future. Dr. Masroor Afreedi kindly offered to respond to any emergency calls for medical help.


16. May Ms. Val D'Eremao and her fellow residents be able to bear with east and comfort this part of their lives.


Thank you for your attention.


With best wishes,

Javed Jabbar