Archive for the ‘dribs and drabs’ Category

An Ode to Papa

Posted: March 14, 2012 in dribs and drabs
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Papa, my maternal grandfather, lived in Alto Ranoi, Quitla, Aldona. He and my grandmother raised six children in a large house. I believe all his children were born in that house but I cannot be sure. It’s true that some of his grandchildren were born in there. Papa, I’m told, in the days when he was able to work, managed a general store in the village. A store that sold every commodity that a household would ever require. From food to toiletries to even port wine, cashew and coconut feni. Some of you may remember Papa, a very distinguished looking man with a proud face and an even proud mustache. I have memories of sitting in his lap and curling the ends of his mustache. In the house, two portraits of him hung on a wall directly above a rattan settee. Beside the settee was a dark wood (teak or ebony perhaps) showcase in which were kept dainty little glasses for serving port wine out of, good china, elegant carvings of bone and other artefacts that we were allowed to look at through the glass front. I like to tell the story of Papa leading the evening rosary every day after which he took out the little glasses and poured all the prayerful people a shot of port wine. I remember sleeping through the rosary prayers but being wide awake for my shot. I couldn’t have been older than 3 or 4 so what does that tell you about me? Only kidding! I still say the rosary and I rarely partake of the shot.

The house was always bustling with people. Can you imagine? Six grown children, their spouses, their children. Oh my! Picture the celebrations at birthdays, first communions, marriages, baptisms and sadly, funerals. My grandmother would have had nine children in all but three died as babies. They were mourned in that house. By the time my own mother, the youngest of all the children was 27, my grandmother died. She had to be young and I never got to know her. She was mourned in that house too.

Did Papa and his wife have help with all of this? Oh yes they did. Zuzin, an adopted but important person in the family not only assisted with childbirths (a midwife of her own making), she cared for the children, home and farm. I can still picture Zuzin, who incidentally, was appointed my godmother, multitasking in a big way. One minute she was returning from working in the fields, next minute, she was bathing a cousin, then cooking up the afternoon meal, then attending to the yield from the field – setting it out to dry, preserve and so on. What a woman!

What did the house look like? My memory is fading but I remember large rooms with high ceilings. The hall was impressive both in it’s size and décor. The tables with doilies and bowls of artificial fruit or vases of flowers made the room look inviting. When the windows on the one side of the house were flung open in the mornings, the brightness was cheery and welcome. Every Goan house had an altar in one corner of the room towards which we all faced when praying together. This house was no different. The altar, a wooden construction of shelving had brass candlesticks, statues of Mary, Joseph holding Jesus and other saints. There were large gilt framed pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary on the wall above the altar and one of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Papa was a devoted man and led his family in prayer on a regular basis.

In my very early years, I was fortunate to live in the house with my mother’s sister (Papa’s eldest child), a remarkable woman who became my guardian. So, my very early memories of the house are of learning to walk and talk. Walking in the house was tough on a toddler in training – the entrance to every room seemed to be a step down or a step up. I fell a lot and cried a lot but it sure turned me into a sturdy youngster. I remember the stone wall surround on the other side of which was the road. I was allowed to freely roam the gardens outside, climb the low trees and even the stone wall. Many a times, I had bloodied knees from these attempts but such freedom for a child is defintely to be cherished.

I invite cousins and anyone who remembers the house to send me their memories and I will incorporate them into this blog post. One cousin remembers that Papa grew coffee plants along the boulevard beside the house. During the monsoons, the plants blossomed and the beautiful flowers exuded a sweet fragrance.

So, this is an ode to Papa and his house. May the house and it’s occupants remain strong in our memories. May the new occupiers of this home have just as many rich experiences as did Papa and his family.

Photos: Complements of Eddie DeSouza and my cousin Linda.



Posted: June 19, 2010 in dribs and drabs
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It took me a long time to find Papa’s house in Aldona. The wall on which I bloodied my three year old knees had crumbled but a flicker of memory lingered on.  While i couldn’t enter Papa’s once magnificent house through the padlocked front door, I could’ve entered through a huge hole in the concrete side wall.  I’d have to wade through a brush of thick and unruly vegetation in which cobras, no doubt, thrived.  The prospects were totally unappealing and I opted to plop myself in the stone seat on the dilapidated verandah and reminisce.

I don’t have a photo of the house but I did walk down the dusty road to the very church where I was baptized.  Feast your eyes on this beauty.  My little grandson said it looks like a ‘giant cake’!  I doubt the church has looked this good in a million years but there’s been a lot of renovations and updates.  I was born in Mapusa and spent my very early days in my grandparents home.   Zuzin became my godmother and I was told that St. Joseph was my Godfather.  Who am I dispute that an important Saint (the father of Jesus) was asked to be my Godfather.  I’m blessed that he agreed because St. Joseph has/is/will be an inspiring spirit!  So, there – that’s my blurb about the church of St. Thomas in Aldona.

Meatballs rock!  And no, i don’t mean the band!  Talking about the turkey meatballs I made for dinner.  I’ll plan on roasting them in future but the lemony sauce turned out good.  When I learn how to upload photos, I’ll take pictures of my food and post here.