If you would learn about a land and its people, you could make a start by reading about them, visiting the land and meeting the people; or you cold read some of their representative literature. Perhaps, these are complementary ways of approaching your task. The literature would lend deeper insight to the more superficial acquaintance gained through statistics and personal impressions.
Enough has been said about Goa over the years. It is becoming an increasingly popular tourist resort with people from all parts of the country flocking to it. Yet, from the Goans themselves there is little of real value about Goa available in the rest of the country.
To fill this gap, we thought of a volume of representative short stories which would tell something worthwhile about Goa and Goans - a kind of 'bio-graphy of the Goan heart', to borrow a particularly happy phrase from Prof. Lucio Rodrigues. The story writer is less bent on defending or attacking than the expository writer and more concerned to put on paper what he feel is outstanding in his experience.
As time went on, however, and this volume gathered shape, force of circumstance forced us to change its nature somewhat. W no longer claim that this collection is a representative one, mainly because it is so difficult to say what is representative and what is not. But we do claim that it is a varied and interesting collection as the reader will soon discover for himself.
To an anthropologist and a sociologist, Goa is as interesting as any other State of India. Perhaps more so, because of its peculiar historical circumstances which set it apart from India for centuries. The coming of the Portuguese four and a half centuries ago resulted in the imposition of one culture on another of a profoundly different nature. The consequences of the phenomenon were not uniform on the Goan population. Different sections reacted to it differently.
Some Goans accepted the ruler's culture wholeheartedly. They began to speak their language, adopted their religion and dress and eventually became what was later to be known as 'assimilados'. Still, it is futile ;to pretend that they became culturally entirely Portuguese, just as it is futile to pretend that 'wogs' (westernized oriental gentlemen) of British India were indistinguishable from Englishmen. The assimilados remained Goan, whatever their wishes. Another set of Goans reacted violently to foregn rule. They resisted tooth and nail the Portuguese cultural and religious onslaught, remained fervent Hindus and spoke mostly Marathi; having a deeply rooted kinship with neighbouring Indians, they cultivated it zealously. A third section, comprising mainly but not only the poorer people, let the foreign customs seep into their lives and mingle with their section, comprising mainly but not only the poorer people, let the foreign customs seep into their lives and mingle with their own. They created the rudiments of a new culture. Their music, their folk-tales, their proverbs and saws, their cooking, their architecture acquired a widely recognised distinctiveness. This section spoke mainly Konkani, followed both Hindu and Christian religions. There is still a fourth group of Goans, who finding Goa too small to fulfil their ambitions, left their land of birth in order to sail the seven seas in quest o adventure, romance and fortune. But while they wandered they did not forget their for good, their fortunes made of their hopes dashed forever. A large portion of this emigrant population settled in Bombay and most took to speaking English.
Each of these Goan types has its peculiarities, lore and mannerisms that easily distinguish them to the experienced eye. Their study is naturally outside the scope of this book but a glimpse into them is offered in these stories for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the reader. If the reader is a Goan and living away from Goa it may in addition, hopefully, quench some of his nostalgia for his native place. It is not suggested that every story contained here can be classified according to the types referred to above. Sometimes they are mixtures of two or more Sometimes they are mixtures of two or more Sometimes they are unclassifiable.
All four languages spoken and written in by Goans are represented here though not in proportion to their usage or output. Their selection was solely dictated by their ready availability and the limitations of the editor who is fairly proficient in only two languages, has a nodding acquaintance with the third and is blissfully ignorant of the fourth. For this handicap he apologises, but unable to circumvent it hopes all the same that the variety of moods, styles, attitudes and situations, which is wide, will make up at least in part for the shortcomings.
An extensive criticism would be out of place here, but a line or two of comments on some of the stories would help the uninitiated reader in placing them in their context more easily than if left to do so on his own.
A few of the contributing authors are well-known beyond Goa, even abroad - Armado Menezes, R. V. Pandit, Laxmanrao Sardesai, Manohar Sardesai, Alberto M. Rodrigues. Many of the rest deserve to be better known. We certainly hope that this volume will do them that service.
Manuel c. Rodrigues' Still Life' is a psychological story, its setting like his 'tempest's' is Bombay. The latter depicts something of the dilemma which many a Goan emigrant faces. Both of J. M. Fernades' stories present additional facets of emigrant life.
'Fear of Death' is a typical folktale. Thousands of its kind, each with a moral attached, are narrated by grandmothers to the delight of their grandchildren. 'Pingoo' is a legend and a ghost story - another one is the Feast of Sao Joao - the likes of which abound in Goa, forming an inseparable part of village life and affording some relief to the villagers' humdrum life. 'Coconut Tree's Curse' is an original story written for children, it also suggests how folktales are born. 'The greatest show On Earth' uses as background a favourite Goan pastime - cockfighting. 'A Village, Green and In Blossom' is of the romantic variety and draws on Goan village landscape for atmosphere. 'Word from Exile', though short, combines satire, poignancy and gimmick (it is a puzzle, the key to which we present in a footnote to the reader who may be unable to find it on his own). 'The aesthete' is difficult to classify even as a story but we thought it we too enjoyable to be left out. 'Pinky's Mother' represents a rewarding effort of a south Indian to identify himself with Goa. Prof. Lucio Rodrigues' 'It Happens' plays on the Batkar - Mundkar relationships, as does Rui Peres' "A Tale Without Words".
Just before going to the press w discovered Nisha da Cunha's 'Home', which we reprint from 'Opinion' along with the 'Boat'. Their author is a professor of English, Gujarati by birth and married to a distinguished Goan advertising executive. She uses and intriguing style, economical on the commans, a fine wit and irony, specially in the first story, capturing with delightful accuracy some stills of Goan life.
Incidentally the light tone in some of the stories is a refreshing relief from the deadly gloom that pervades most of Indian writing in all languages.
Perhaps, after reading these stories the reader may feel that the short story has a future in Goa. He may feel tempted to contributed to that future. If he does, the greater purpose of this unpretentious effort will have been served. To him, then, is this volume dedicated.
|2||In A Village, Green And In Blossom||9|
|Alberto Menezes Rodrigues|
|Nisha da Cunha|
|4||The Little Fellow||16|
|5||The Coconut Tree's Curse||22|
|R. V. Pandit|
|Nisha da Cunha|
|7||World From Exile||25|
|9||Between Two Loyalties||30|
|Maria Alzira Mesquita|
|Nora Secco de Sousa|
|12||The Image OF Goddess||39|
|13||The Legacy Of Love||42|
|Manuel C. Rodrigues|
|15||When The Bell Rings||53|
|17||The Greatest Show On Earth||57|
|Abdul Majeed Khan|
|18||On The Feast Of San Joao||59|
|Adelaide de Souza|
|19||A Tale Without Words||62|
|Manuel C. Rodrigues|
|23||The Aesthete (A monologue)||75|
|24||The Forsaken Son||78|
|25||The Root Of All Evil||80|
|27||Fear Of Death||85|
|Telo de Mascarenhas|
Item Code: IDH280 Author: Luis S. Rita Vas Cover: Paperback Edition: 2002 Publisher: A Publishing House, Mumbai ISBN: 8172249543 Size: 8.3" X 5.4" Pages: 183 Other Details: weight of book 288 gms