A Homeric Interlude :
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The late winter evenings of the very last year of the Fifties were particularly memorable. After games were over , a few of us would huddle around ,while one of our teachers , an Anglo Burmese priest by the name of John Foxewell , serialized for us two stories . Those were the days , long before the advent of TV or canned entertainment , when a tale told well could enthrall and grip the mind like little else could.
The first was a wild west yarn with a riveting title :“Roy Rogers and the Ghost of the Mystery Rancho ‘. It was set in an old ruined Spanish mission in the middle of the badlands …with a skeleton seated inside on a chair - bolt-erect …a six gun in each hand …shooting intruders through the heart with unerring accuracy. Then the American knight in shining armour ,Roy Rogers canters into the scene astride his white palomino ….many twists and turns later, comes the show down….bullets fly….. and the villain bites the dust.
The next was the incredible H.G. Wells classic “The Invisible Man “. The ringing lines and haunting images of this never-to-be forgotten tale work their magic, right down to the present day : the wilds of Epping Forest… the invisible man stalking the countryside inspiring terror…culminating in the spectacular denouement…the mind fairly boggled at it all.
I remember Bro. Foxewell really spun both stories out – stretching them over many evenings . Right through the telling of both these tales , he had us enthralled , eagerly waiting for more. And we could hardly wait to hear their endings.
The Fin de siecle of the Fifties:
With the advent the New Year, all were acutely conscious that the world was on the verge of passing a major milestone –the fading away of the 50s and the dawning of the 60s. On New Year’s day, “The Calcutta Statesman” carried , on its front page ,a black and white photograph of the River Hoogly …with boats passing up and down it .. a couple sitting chastely on the river bank….. and the sun just above the horizon, on the point of setting on the entire scene . The caption was ‘ The Sun Setting for the Last Time in the Fifties…”.