There are some people in your life that you feel were the ones who were necessary to make your life complete. To make your life the way it is right now. To make your life a lot much better than what it was earlier.

Br. Keane
Br. Keane

One such person has been there for me in my life. Br. Keane, he was my principal when I first met him. An ever smiling face, that heavy ‘chest fallen down’ stomach, those loving eyes hovering around above the spectacles.

He used to sit just next to the stair case when we used to come in to school every day, wishing everyone and poking fun at us. Many of the learning’s that the formal education of school did not impart came from him, at least for me. No mugging of answers was his tip, he encouraged us to write the answers in our own words rather than copy pasting the words in the text books. This, he said makes you understand the subject. Perhaps, this is why when I help my cousin with her school work, I am able to provide a better understanding to her. I am able to remember and recollect what I learned in my school by just reading a few lines and then able to provide a better understanding to my cousin. One way of learning that he imparted was to read what we wrote. He said that it helped in three ways – you read, you write and you hear. This makes the brain to better understand.

He was also the one who inculcated the habit of reading in me. He encouraged us to read as much as possible. Novels, news papers, encyclopedias, magazines…

He was away during our last years of school, imparting the same life learning’s to someone else in another part of India. He told us tales of how he was stuck in a train in West Bengal for over 24 hours at a single spot due to a derailment on the track and how he helped build schools and homes for people who were less fortunate.

I kept in touch with him with regular letters, he used to write to me even though he had a busy schedule and used to complain that I did not write enough. Whenever he was in Vasai, he used to come home and sit on the swing and then we used to talk for hours. Then there was this phase when I did not receive a single reply to my letters.

Br Keane ... Irish charm
Br Keane ... Irish charm

I was in Dublin when I got the news of his heart attack from Br. Pinto and I was desperately trying to reach him. I called in a few times only to get a message that he was resting. Finally luck smiled on me and I got to talk to him, I cried that day while talking to him, the words were unable to come out of my mouth but he never sounded so calm before. We talked a good 10-15 minutes that day. I wanted to go to either Goa or Bangalore where he was after I was back from Dublin but then I never got to make those trips due to the time factor. We met though, in December, he was in Vasai to attend the final professions of two brothers. We exchanged email addresses and we continued our correspondences via email. One of email in 2008, he mentioned that he faced some difficulties with his eyes as he had cataract in both his eyes and he asked me to remember him in my prayers. I wrote a very emotional mail to him which sadly was not replied

Br. Keane
Br. Keane

Then I heard something that literally shook the ground beneath my feet. Br. Keane was not keeping well and he was moved to Ireland and then I got this mail:

Dear Malcolm,

Br. Keane passed away on the 16th February at 9.30 PM IST at Beaumont
Hospital Baldoyle, Ireland. He was 77 years old. He had a massive heart
attack two days prior to his passing away from which he never
recovered. May God grant his soul eternal rest.

I cried that day. I went ahead and shared the news with all my school mates and I had an inbox full of condolences. And today, even after two years of his death, Br. Keane continues to inspire me and show me the best way to life my life.

Br. Keane in 1968
Br. Keane in 1968

He has served in India for 57 years starting from 4th November 1951.

Here is a glimpse of what this man was. I can proudly say that I am what I am because of Br. Keane.

Tony was not one to confine himself to school and classroom where he expended great energy in teaching. He had a very personal interest in the lives of his pupils and was genuinely supportive of them in their problems and difficulties. He spent two terms travelling around India on vocation promotion and gave himself fully to the task. His interest in the new recruits did not cease once they had joined but continued over time through letters and visits.

He was one of the pioneers who moved into the village of Amgi in Surat District. He was very happy to be there and shared the lives of the simple village folk as he struggled to come to terms with the intricacies of Gujarati. He was always ready to face any challenge and did his best pick up some of the local village dialect which unfortunately had no resemblance to Gujarati.

In later life he became involved with some village folk in Tamilnadu who had suffered loss during the tsunami. His priority was to try to provide proper housing for the affected people and in this he was helped in great part by the generosity of his large circle of friends in Ennis and elsewhere. He took great satisfaction in the opening of the first church in the world dedicated to Blessed Edmund Rice in Sivagangi, Madurai.

PS: Thank you one and all who have liked the post, I am sure your thoughts on Br. Keane are the same. Also a big ‘Thank you’ to BlogAdda for picking this post as a Spicy Saturday pick I am honoured.

20 thoughts on “Indebted

  1. Hey Malcom, Thanks for sharing details about Br Keane which I really was unaware of barring that he was very loving, caring and a person who inculcated values.

  2. I still remember the day when you gave me your sunglasses a very strong remembrance that make me feel you are still there with me

  3. Hey Malcolm thanks…. In this busy life we so easily forget the people who has made difference in our lives .. And definitely BR KEANE is one… May his soul rest in Peace

  4. May his soul rest in peace.

    I think Br Keane was a major inspiration for me and he has definitely given me a way of thinking.

    He has taught us many things beyond books and curriculum and these are the things which have helped me in my life today.

    I will always be indebted to Br.Keane and remember him in my prayers forever.

  5. Br. Keane was a force within himself. I still remember him always being on the school ground in the evenings, when we played.

    He will always be remembered.

    God bless Br. Keane.

  6. Hey Malcolm,

    Yes, Br.Keane was an Unforgettable person who inspired us by many ways and by his values. I also have lot of memories about him as was close to him too. Those days of him visiting my house, that mischief in the school hours,sharing frm our Tiffin boxes,trying to learn the Marathi dialect of Vasai….so much fun wth him.

    He is surely missed by everyone, one of its kind.

    May his soul rest in Peace….

  7. Hi there, it was nice reading all about Br. Keane. Thanks Malcolm My son studied at St. Augustine and I always remember Brother, so full of life and fun. A strong disciplinarian when he had to be and childlike other times. End of a picnic day, I always saw him as crumpled and dirty like the rest of you boys and I wondered who had more fun that day. Guys, don’t mourn for a person like Br. Keane, rather celebrate his LIFE for he was so life giving. He surely will be missed.

  8. Many years back there lived two little brothers in the small town called Asansol. They were good in academics and thought no end of themselves. Then one day a person called Br. Keane walked into their lives. He took these brats under his wings and decided to open up a new world them. A world which they were born into but it took an Iris gentleman to reveal it to them.
    These brothers have learnt many skills that are required to be successful from many and have done well for themselves. What they have not told anyone is what they learnt from Br Keane which the premier business schools they attended failed to teach anyone.
    1. You ALWAYS get more than you give.
    2. The blessings from the unfortunate are worth more than anything else.
    3. The real JOY is in giving and not getting.

    How can we forget you Br Keane. We owe all our success to you.

    The Elder brother

  9. thanks malcolm and which year you had passed out.yes Br Keane was a great personality and very caring

  10. Thank You Malcolm.This was really touching.I know Br.Keane because my brothers studied at St. Augustines. I had heared a lot from my brothers about Br. Keane.He inspired my brothers a lot and was their favourite teacher.

  11. he was hero of St Augustine with pink cheeks like Santa when he was principal i was in junior kg and i loved him that time its very saud to hear this news i still have 1 of his coins that he had given me when i was in school I love you Br Keane

  12. Malcolm, I remember Br Keane while teaching us The Solitary Reaper by Wordsworth, reciting the poem and saying that “I would love reading such poems than watching Jurassic Park thrice.” Also, remember him singing songs in Italian while teaching us Geometry. I remember his lines when he said that in gondolas, the boatmen sing about your gf/wife while they take you places in Venice!

    I remember him remembering the names of all the school children! I remember him standing at the school gate till we all left school. Also, welcoming us at the gate or at the stairs like you wrote.

    I remember him showing us the importance of punctuality by starting the Annual Day celebrations on time even though most of the parents trickled in late.

    I also remember him once coming all the way with me to the library (which was completely his initiative) to fight with the librarian on my behalf because she had refused to give me books that day! It was summer and she was the only staff member working! He was dressed in a vest and shorts when he fought on my behalf. Literally. All the way from Brother’s House to the library, which was then in the Primary school building.

    Then, he had once asked all of us in class how many books had we read and how he appreciated the ones who had read a lot…

    He inspired me to write. Poetry, Films. Stories. He was the best teacher I ever had. In fact, after school, I was disillusioned with education outside. Because none of the teachers could hold even a candle to him.

    I am indebted to him forever and will remember always that he was instrumental in me becoming the writer I am now. Am happy to see your blog post on him. Brought back a lot of memories from our wonder years…

    He was very proud about me entering the print media early in my career. That was sometime in 2001, I think. That was the last time I ever met him. I came to know of his death through Prashant and like you, I too cried.

    I hope that I continue to make him proud and I know that one day, I shall be a teacher just like him.

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