Sunday, September 13, 2009

Noel da Lima Leitao



This Sunday morning I received an email from my friend Victor informing me that our school friend Noel had died. Just like that. I read it a couple of times before it sank in. Slowly, I was hit with a sadness that weighed me down that I sat for a long time reflecting on a life that had just ended.

It was a cold wintry March day in 1967 at St Joseph's College, Nainital that I first met Noel. We were in grade 4. Life's success in those days was counted on the number of marbles one had or who had the best fountain pen ( we had just graduated from pencils to pens).I remember he had the biggest "bunta" Anyone remember what that is ?( the striker marble)

Noel was a natural athlete and this was evident not only on the "futta" and hockey fields but even in track and field. He always played full back for St Francis ( Nehru house), the house he eventually Captained in his final year. His kicks always crossed the half line. Little did we know that one day he would dominate the Indian football( soccer) scene as a commentator par excellence.In the evenings in the lockers after a gruelling games period one would find him working with the bull worker and he always had a witty comment on any situation.

He excelled in academics as well passing out with an enviable 7 points in the ISC exams. I recollect English essays were tough in school... I once got 35/50 from Bro O'Shea and I pranced about the class assuming mine was the best till I happened to glance at Noel's paper. It was lying on his desk and he was not even bothered and was busy talking with some one elsewhere in class-- he had been marked 39/50.

Noel was easily a class apart. Athletic supremacy, futta and hockey skills, academic brilliance, confidence and style. I would give him a 10 all through. Rarely does one come across such an individual. I last met him in 1985 in Goa and my wife described him as a character right out of a mills & boon when she saw him striding towards us dressed in full white from a six cylinder vintage car.

Today even as I write this, I know preparations are underway for Noel's funeral. Though we know that this is a fact but my mind refuses to accept the reality. It is hard to forget you my friend but we will meet again on the other side, only this time I aim to have a bigger "bunta" than yours.

Rest in peace, Noel.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It does affect us when someone larger than life passes away.

He was one year senior to me in Sem, which I joined in 1974 for my last 2 years in school.

His brother Eric was in my class, and I would like to offer my sincere condolences.

Sanjiv Doraiswamy

Anonymous said...

I thank you for sharing your memories of Noel. Although not a Semian and not your batch, I have spent a lot of time today thinking of Noel as it is his funeral.
From the sister school, Sonn, Noel and I were not the best of buddies in school, but being a true Semian he came into my life again, thanks to the internet. Since then, he has been an amazing, caring friend. I met him and his lovely wife in NYC and was so happy to see this truly blessed wonderful couple.
Then, thanks on Noel's insistance I paid Goa a visit earlier this year and reconnected with my cousin Mark Pinto and Carl Keeler. At this stage of my life it was such a joy to be with guys who know you for who you are at your core and can be completely at ease. Noel and his lovely family went out of their way to give me right royal treatment that was not warranted. I am still reeling from the shock.
I would like to propose a scholarship in Noel's name to Sem, or Vasco club or whatever his lovely wife deems would mean the most. I hope Semians and I know there are my mates from Sonn who would support this.
Rest in Peace, Noel. You really are a star!
Erica

Neeraj said...

Sanjiv & Erica
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yes, Noel was just "out there".
I share your sentiments.

You never know with life-- make each day count

Anonymous said...

Neeraj

Your kind words about Noel brought back some very fond memories of our classmate. As I read the various reports in the news, I am struck by his tremendous contribution to his community and the sport he devoted so much of his energy to. At Sem we were lucky enough to see early on the passion, exuberance, enthusiasm and team work that he developed to such great effect over his life. May we aspire to make some small fraction of the impact he made, on the people and places we care about! Godspeed Noel.

Mark Sen

Anonymous said...

Dear Neeraj,
I thought I would share this with you, in case you are not aware. Noel's month mind will be on Oct 17th Saturday, with a mass at 4pm at St. Andrew's Church, followed by a blessing of the grave. If you want to remember him in your prayers that day.
Best,
Erica

Neeraj said...

Erica, Thx - noted

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

Anonymous said...

Correctly your article helped me truly much in my college assignment. Hats high to you post, wish look audacious in the direction of more cognate articles soon as its one of my choice subject-matter to read.

Arup Bhattacharya said...

On my visit to Nainital & SEM a couple of years ago, I got Noel's mobile number from our erstwhile chemistry teacher, Mr Pyare Lal Shah. P L Shah fondly reminisced of Noel and updated me on his activities. Noel was one of the 1st people I met on joining SEM in 1971 and he was the person who gave me the nickname 'Naxi' (from 'Naxalite') since I hailed from Calcutta which was facing the Naxalite problem at the time. Noel was my senior in school and passed out before me, but my schoolmates know me as 'Naxi' to this day.

Noel is no more and God Bless his Soul.

I find Mark Sen's comment here, Mark went on to become College Captain. Should Mark be reading this in the future, please do contact on my e-mail which is: arup.1960@yahoo.com

Mark's brother Christopher Sen and myself were buddies at SEM and I would like to be back in touch.

Naxi.

Sugato said...

Very saddened to hear this. Noel was quite a role model for us all in school and dobtless a first class athlete.

Would be wonderful to regain touch with other semians, Tiem has taken its toll on us all.....

I am Sugato Dutt presently in Honolulu and moving to Toronto.

I can be reached at dutt.sugato@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great information! I would not have discovered this otherwise!.

Vineet Nayyar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vineet Nayyar said...

Noel was a year senior to me and Eric, his brother was my classmate. Noel was Nehru house captain the year before me. I see commentary placed on your blog Neeraj by people whose names I recognise. Sanjiv Doraiswamy was very much my classmate and Mark Sen was a year senior to me.

I am sorry to be posting this on your blog 2 years after the event, but I came to know of this only recently through Sanjay Kalra who visited me in Sydney.
Vineet Nayyat

Vineet Nayyar said...

Noel was a year senior to me and Eric, his brother was my classmate. Noel was Nehru house captain the year before me. I see commentary placed on your blog Neeraj by people whose names I recognise. Sanjiv Doraiswamy was very much my classmate and Mark Sen was a year senior to me.

I am sorry to be posting this on your blog 2 years after the event, but I came to know of this only recently through Sanjay Kalra who visited me in Sydney.
Vineet Nayyat

Vineet Nayyar said...

Noel was a year senior to me and Eric, his brother was my classmate. Noel was Nehru house captain the year before me. I see commentary placed on your blog Neeraj by people whose names I recognise. Sanjiv Doraiswamy was very much my classmate and Mark Sen was a year senior to me.

I am sorry to be posting this on your blog 2 years after the event, but I came to know of this only recently through Sanjay Kalra who visited me in Sydney.
Vineet Nayyat