Exactly 10 years ago from today, I had just graduated as a Computer Science Engineer and was in Hyderabad undergoing my CAT coaching classes. I was busy doing a mock CAT test by myself in my tiny rented apartment in Sainikpuri, when suddenly my phone rang.
It was Stephen, my classmate from School.
Since we hadn’t spoken much since we all left School, I knew it must be important and picked up his call.
“Hey sup Stephen….”
Stephen broke down…
“Kima… Francis… he…”
I knew exactly then what he was about to say next and my whole world spun around…
“Francis passed away today…”
I spent the rest of the night calling up all our classmates I could reach, talking about all the wonderful memories we had shared with Francis.
Francis was not just a classmate from Montfort School, Yercaud. He was a very dear friend.
I still remember that momentous day in Montfort when the three House Vice-Captains of class 11 (Ashwini, Kamalesh and I) were to select the new 11th standard joinees into our respective houses.
Ashwini and Kamalesh warned me not to take all the talented Mizos who had just joined our School into my House just because I already knew which Mizo was good in sports and extra-curricular activities, so as to keep the balance between all three competing Houses (we have this all-year-long inter House competition when it comes to sports, academics, cultural activities etc etc, it’s a Boarding School thing).
I snickered. Comon, all’s fair in love and war.
Francis was one of the first people I selected to join my House, because I already knew him well before he joined our school, since we were in the same social circle when I was playing basketball for JL Vision Club and ABC (Andrew Basketball Club – in memory of Andrew, another friend who passed away) in Mizoram (and eventually, we created a new basketball club called Club Francis after his sad demise).
So, to remember my dear friend on his 10th death anniversary, here are a few photographs I’ve taken with him back in School. I’m really glad to have such photos still with me.
Click on all pics to enlarge. Photo will open in a new window. All photos have a resolution of 1400 pixels width. Captions are below the photos.
In memory of Francis Lalhrilhtluanga
You can see Francis on the left end. This was during our School Sports Day’s traditional 12th standard parade, where the outgoing batch marches around the field as the entire school cheers them up.
Some of us just chilling at this place near school called “Aeroplane Stream” in Yercaud, during one of our Sunday Walks. I just realized, Francis is sitting with Lawrence in this photo, and ironically, Lawrence too had passed away recently, in a similar road mishap.
Back in 11th standard, on our way back from morning Mass.
Happy happy. Some of us 11th std Mizos with the 12th std Mizos, near the common toilet next to the tennis courts, our favorite hangout place, lolz.
One of my favorite pictures. We were on stage dancing in front of the school during one of our extremely rare hostel party nights, and as is evident from this photo, Francis clearly forgot his step, lolz. Wish I could ask him now what he was thinking right then, to forget a choreography we rehearsed so many times before.
Patrick House – We won the prestigious March Past Shield, all thanks to people like Francis who was a natural soldier. You can see him in both the photos above – second row, middle column. Made me proud to be a Captain that led such fine people like him.
12th standard, Patrick House Picnic day – Had so much fun that day. Francis was extra efficient when it came to peace making (ok there is this annual tradition of 11th std students and 10th std students fighting with each other during every House picnic, especially during “flag hunt”, and by fight I mean fist fighting, punches, karate kicks and all the works. It is a part of our deep Montfort tradition. It is the duty and responsibility of a House Captain and his 12th std classmates to make sure such fights do not go out of hand and things don’t get too bloody, or fatal. It’s what makes us a man.) Apart from that, we had a memorable time during tug-of-war and so many other games. In another photo above, you can see Francis carrying a crate of cold drinks for the Patrick House students.
Hehe… boys will be boys :) Those few naughty times we get to bunk and smoke secretly. And if you think being a Patrick House captain, I’m showing bad example, well, the guy in front of Francis is the Gabriel House captain, lolz.
The next one above is awkward! Lolz. If it was not for Francis in the pic, I would have never posted it online. This was our 12th standard dormitory. I knew there was always something going on between Hminga (Mama) and Edward Lalrempuia :D And in the far right Stephen’s reading something, probably his usual stash of porn :D :P
SSGY Fête, one of the most awaited annual events for any Montfortians, where we could interact with the girls of Sacred Hearts and treat them to pepsi and even exchange letters or Hallmark cards, behind the backs of the Catholic Brothers and Sisters who run both our institutes.
In Calcutta, on our way to school and start our 12th std term, traveling together. Oh man, those journeys had so many many many wonderful memories!!!! :)
11th std. Walking to our dorm, with Francis and Tlawmlova.
11 std. Bio batch. Class photo.
11 std. Francis’ table in the mess. Except for Stephen and I who had been studying in Montfort for a long time, all those Mizos who joined our batch in 11th std all sat together in one table.
12th std. Francis’ table. Again, same set of table mates, but this time, they have a more serious look on their face, what with the 12th std board exams coming up.
Sports – one of our School’s proudest moments in its history when it comes to sports. We took part in the prestigious Holy Cross School annual tournament held in Salem for football, basketball and volleyball, and WE WON in all three games, each team beating some 5-10 other schools! Above are the three extremely proud Captains with our respective trophies, Me (basketball captain), Francis (football captain) and Vivek (volleyball captain).
State Championships! Both the School football and basketball team qualified for States (To reach States, you need to win Zonals first, then win Districts, then Regionals, then Divisions and finally States). We were the first Montfort batch in our School’s history to reach States for BOTH football and basketball at the same time! Other years, we would get knocked out in Regionals or Districts, and even if we did happen to have a team reaching States, it would be just one team. And as always, I was the only Mizo in the basketball team, while 80% of the football team were Mizos.
One of those many sports tournaments the basketball and football team participated in.
12th std class road trip to Kovalam beach. Hehehe, good memories there as well :)
Our 12th std batch, with our official batch tee-shirt.
Our farewell night :(
Socials night :D
Our 12th std batch group photo.
Get-together party at Notea’s house. Lolz. Funny night :D
Taking a few photos around school together, this was our last day in school after our board exams.
The day we left school for good, on our way to Bangalore to party our brains out :)
These are the pics I can find for now. Great times indeed. Still hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since that fateful day. Man, these photos are not enough… the first time I ever got sloshed and puked my guts out, it was with Francis, in Bangalore :) The first time I smoked too much in one go and puked, again, it was with Francis. Man, there are so many things I want to share about my time and experiences with Francis, but then, maybe let’s save those for the next anniversary.
Once again, Francis, here is me drinking to your memory. Cheers brother.