In Memory of Rita M. DeSouza
On life’s journey very rarely do you meet people who not only make an impression on you but who also contribute to and influence your growth, your values and your development as a human being. Rita M. DeSouza was one such person. Learning of her death on May 25 at the age of 92 made me feel a sense of deep personal loss. She was a good soul who did so much for so many. I was sorry that since i was traveling I could not attend her funeral and pay my last respects. She had been a part of my life since High School as the Principal of St. Lawrence’s School in Karachi but our relationship did not stop there.
It has been a long time since I graduated from High School but throughout my college and university years and then as I entered professional life, Rita DeSouza was always there taking pride in whatever I achieved and guiding my development. She was the kind of educationalist who cared about her students, about the young people under her care, someone who followed their careers with a great deal of interest and took pleasure in their success and in their achievements.
A group of us who were in school together visited her regularly on her birthday, at Easter, at Christmas and New Year. She looked forward to our visits with great anticipation and often told her family and friends about this “special group of former students”. She never forgot to call us on special occasions like Eid to wish us Eid Mubarak. Whenever she saw anything about us in the newspapers or saw an interview on television, she would call and say how proud she was of what we had done and the way in which we had conducted ourselves. Her praise always meant so much because it was honest and sincere.
Rita DeSouza was a wonderful conversationalist. Each discourse with her taught you something new but she was also a great listener (a quality very few have). We talked to her about everything – our careers, our personal lives, our problems, our challenges, our successes, our failures. And the advice she gave very often helped us look at things from a different perspective and discover new solutions.
Rita DeSouza was an amazing human being. She was a great teacher, an efficient administrator, a role model for many, a humanist, a caring and loving person and a mentor and guide. She cared so much about this country and never really wanted to live anywhere else even though she was not short of options. Of late she had been very concerned about the political and societal changes taking place around us. She was also concerned about the quality of education and tried to do whatever she could to advise and work with various groups to improve the standards. She was a strong member of the community and an active participant. She was often seen visiting people who were old and sick or who needed attention.
I remember when I last visited her she was bedridden but still mentally alert. Her kidneys were giving up. The doctors had advised that she undergo dialysis but she had refused. She was adamant that she had lived a very full life and wanted to leave this world with dignity and grace and not tied to a machine. Those of us who knew her and loved her respected her decision.
Rita DeSouza had always been a fighter, a very strong human being. She had overcome a number of medical problems but had remained active and independent even after her husband Cyril’s demise. She wanted to die the way she had lived – with courage and grace. She didn’t want to linger and I am so glad she got her wish. We will of course miss her but the memories will sustain us and she will no doubt continue to live through the many young people whose lives she guided and whose values and ethics are strong because of her.
Farewell Mrs. DeSouza! You will always be remembered. You were a wonderful role model, a tremendous mentor and a great friend to all who knew you. You will continue to live in our memory and in our hearts. Rest in Peace. God has a special place in heaven for people like you.
Article in Tribune: http://tribune.com.pk/story/384730/transitions-adios-rita-de-souza-rest-in-peace/