Father Willmes, my gentle hostel superintendent at Xavier’s Jaipur

Author: 
Vijay Bagaria

Vijay Bagaria studied as a “hostel boy” in St. Xavier’s, Jaipur from 1955 when he joined in the Kindergarten to 1966 when he passed his ISC Examination. He moved to Tinsukia, Assam where he completed his B. Com. with Honours in Business Management from Tinsukia College (affiliated to Dibrugarh University). Simultaneously, he worked in his family business of tea processing machinery production. Later, he moved to Tezpur, Assam, and then to Kolkata looking after his company T & I Pvt Ltd as its Executive Chairman.

In my school, I was watching a hockey match on the “lower field” as part of a large bunch of spectators. Suddenly, I felt someone tapping my shoulder from the back. It was none other than our Hostel Superintendent Rev. Fr. J. Willmes. I could sense that something was seriously wrong. Else, why would Father call me aside in the middle of a hockey match?

The sports ground at St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur.

The sports ground at St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur.

It so happened that a few days earlier, in one of our Sunday morning letter-writing periods in the hostel, I had written an innocent complaint to my elder brother Om Prakash (Xavier’s 1957) about the quality of food that we were being served lately. (We the “hostellers” were used to excellent food till then). My letter re-bounded when O. P. referred my complaint to Fr. Willmes.

Father Willmes served as hostel superintendent at St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur.

Father Willmes served as hostel superintendent at St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur.

This is what transpired:

Fr. Willmes: Did you complain to Om about the quality of food that you are getting? (This took the wind out of my sails as I had a hunch that there is some big trouble ahead but wait, I was in for a shock!).

Father carried on: What is it that you don’t like, is it the taste or the quality of preparation, or the quantity?

Vijay: Father, it’s the taste and lack of variety. (Imagine, we had started receiving lassi instead of tea at tea-time, and amras impregnated with vegetables at dinner!)

Fr. Willmes: Look Vijay, I would have appreciated if you had told me if there is something you do not like. We are here to look after you like your parents, and it is our job to see that you do not suffer in any way … (He was almost in tears and so was I). I will see what can be done.

And lo and behold, within a couple of days the food was as good as before if not even better!

I had learnt my lesson – our parents had left us in very safe and responsible hands that would ensure that we felt always at home. Fr Willmes was the most gentle of the Jesuit Fathers we had been exposed to. Even when he was strict or stern one could hardly hear a loud word from his mouth.

At different times, he was the Hostel Superintendent, or Rector. And of course, the school’s official photographer. How can we forget “one, three, two, seven … click”!

Comments

Vijay and I were classmates for many years. But, he was a hosteller and I was a day-scholar who lived at home. So, I never got to see this side of Fr. Wilmes. But, I do remember the photo times - getting a photo taken was a rare and serious occasion, and Fr. Willmes made it fun.

i happened to be in the hostel for 5 yrs under.him. He was.the.most.gentle.soul i hhave come across. Adesh jain(71-81)

dear adesh
if u have a stroy about any of the teachers u r welcome to send it to us at inourdays@gmail.com
thanks editor

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