Books of Damodar Mauzo
First published in 1988, Rumadful is a delightful collection of short stories that capture a wide range of human emotions. In this collection, the author has also experimented with the science fiction genre, a bold step to take in Indian language fiction during the time it was published
Publisher: Under the Peepal Tree
Publisher: Ponytale Books
Thirteen-year-old Simon lives in a coastal village in South Goa. He juggles school, dancing, karate classes and thoroughly loves the sea, especially going on fishing trips with his father, Gabru. Despite growing up in modern times, Simon nurtures a deep love for their traditional fisher-folk life. This winter Simon goes to Tamil Nadu, to spend his Christmas vacation with his aunt. But the holiday comes to a disastrous end. One morning, when out fishing with his uncle, the gigantic waves of the tsunami strike the coast of South India sparing little that lay in its path
Some books form a symbiotic relationship with the reader. One can’t be sure whether the book feeds off the reader, or the reader off the book. Sahitya Akademi awardee Damodar Mauzo’s latest collection of short stories, Teresa’s Man and other stories from Goa (masterfully translated from Konkani by Xavier Cota) may not be impossible to put down, but it would be dishonest to deny the cosy relationship it develops with the reader in the unforgettable journey through the stories.
For detailed review: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/02/teresas-man-and-other-stories-from-goa/
The Last Poem
– Saratchandra Shenoi
(English translation from the Konkani original by poet himself)
As like a flash of lightening upon a dark sky,
When the last poem comes forth, bright and blinding,
I shall not take up the pen,
Nor ask for a piece of paper –
As like the scene of a dream reappearing
Before my waking eyes,
When the last poem appears a-shimmering,
It would not reach my lips,
I would not recite its lines –
As like the morning breeze playing in the garden,
As like the rainbow appearing and vanishing,
As like nature at dusk, lost in her own beauty,
When the last poem shines forth,
I shall not attempt to touch it,
I shall not pluck words from it –
As like soothing raindrops in mid-summer
When the last poem condenses within,
Wings will grow upon my back,
I shall fly, and I shall float,
Weightless, I shall swim
Upon the waves of the Wind –
As like the slow smile blossoming through
Ebbing tears upon the face of a weeping child,
When the last poem dawns within,
I shall forget myself
And stand entranced,
Lo, I shall become the poem!
“Konkani short story genre has a bright future ahead”
Interview of Damodar Mauzo with Sivasankari
Born in the year 1944, Damodar Mauzo is one of the outstanding short story writers in the world of Konkani literature. His contributions have been recognised and honoured by several literary organisations including the Central Sahitya Akademi, Goa Kala Academy and the Konkani Bhasha Mandal. .
Although it was your novel Karmelin which won the Sahitya Akademi award, your short stories are said to have enriched Konkani literature. As a famous short story writer, can you trace the origins of the short story genre in Konkani, its growth and also the writers who distinguished themselves in this genre?
Shenoy Goembab, alias Vaman Raghunath Varde Valaulikar, was in fact the first to introduce the modern short story genre to Konkani literature. He was instrumental in launching the Konkani literary movement and guiding it. He also contributed to every genre in Konkani literature. I would call the short story ‘Where did my mother go?’ published in 1928 as the first short story in modern Konkani literature.
Why do you repeatedly use the prefix ‘modern’?
I am using the prefix ‘modern’ because even the sixteenth century, a writer by name Krishnadas Shama was writing short stories in the form of folk tales. Using the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as a base, he created stories using his own imagination, technique etc. Isn’t Krishnadas Shama to be recognised for his efforts that came at a time when no such similar efforts had been made in any other Indian language?
Definitely. What was the theme of Shenoy Goembab’s first short story?
It was based on human emotions. It was the story of a little boy who loses his beloved mother to death. The child constantly wonders where his mother is. The adults around try to console him by saying that she has gone to the house of God. Unable to bear the parting, the child prays that his mother should come back or else that he should be taken to her. The child falls ill soon after and dies as well. One cannot call the theme or the style outstanding and yet it was the first emotion filled short story written over seventy years ago.
Who are the writers who made a significant contribution to the Konkani short story genre after Shenoy Goembab and which were the most outstanding short stories?
Before answering your question, I wish to remind you of a fact. Our primary objective until the liberation of Goa was to protect and revive the Konkani language that had been suppressed during the Portuguese rule. It is a fact that our writers concentrated more on reviving the language and taking it back to the people rather than on experimental efforts, technique, style etc. We have to accept that, as a result, works of outstanding literary value were not really produced in that time period. Besides, you must also be aware of the stringent censorship laws that prevailed here. Since the writers living in Goa were not able to think and function quite as freely as those who lived outside, most of our literature was being produced from outside. The short stories that were part of the first two published Konkani short story collections, Onvllam and Bhuim Chafim, were written by writers living in Karwar and elsewhere. Even those collections were published from Bombay. The youth who went to Bombay and elsewhere in order to pursue higher studies came out with an inter-collegiate literary magazine Vidya, to serve as an outlet for their creative instincts. The students of that time can be credited with having published Konkani one-act plays and also staging them.
What was the Konkani script used in this magazine Vidya?
It was Devanagari. It is the Devanagari script that we have used for writing our language for a long time. At that period, it was common among the Catholics to use the Roman script to write Konkani. Apart from the students’ movement, the Konkani section of the All India Radio, Bombay, also contributed significantly to the growth of our language and literature. Since the censorship laws dampened the literary enthusiasm of the people living in Goa, the writers living in Bombay elsewhere took some consolation from broadcasting their works through the All India Radio. It is a fact that at a time when it was not possible to write or to publish written works, our literature survived with support from the All India Radio. It is unfortunate that although the short stories, poems and plays written by several of our well known writers were broadcast through All India Radio, there were no copies made and many outstanding pieces are today lost to us. Consequently, we are unable to name some of the outstanding short story writers after Shenoy Goembab nor do we have copies of their works for you to read.
I can empathise with you. Such a fate should not befall the creative efforts of any writer.
Despite all these problems, our writers have produced some outstanding works. Writers like Dr. ManoharRai Sardessai, Ravindra Kelkar, A.N. Mhambro, B.B.Borkar and Chandrakant Keni wrote significantly during those dark years.
What was the impact amongst you when India gained her independence in 1947?
You won’t believe this, but post Indian independence things in fact took a turn for the worse. Fearing that the spirit of freedom would spread here from independent India, the Portuguese government began to impose restrictions on travel to Bombay and other places in India. These restrictions not only curbed our freedom of movement but also called a halt to the literary exchanges that had been taking place. I would like to clarify a point here. The British ruled over India only for 150 years. The Portuguese, on the other hand, ruled over us for 450 years and did their best to destroy our culture, language and traditions in the name of religion. It is a wonder that our writers continued their literary efforts despite all this.
A.N. Mhambro’s works are replete with humour and satire, isn’t it? Satire has been used very effectively in stories like Vittu’s key is Lost and Drawer is not opening.<
You are quite right. Mhambro was the man who produced works which resembled in style the ‘absurd writing’ genre seen in the West. All the stories in the collection Panaji has now grown old are quite unique. Similarly, Chandrakant Keni was also an expert at introducing several new writing techniques. The four-member team that succeeded them can be credited with having enriched the Konkani short story genre. The four are – forgive me for putting myself first – myself, Pundalik Naik, Sheela Kolambkar and Meena Kakodkar. This team introduced new themes ideas, techniques and usages to the short story genre from the 60’s onto ’70. This period is rightly referred to as the golden era of the Konkani short story genre. Apart from them, writers like N. Shivdas, Thukaram Shet, Gajanan Jog, Datta S. Naik and Mahabaleshwar Sail deserve to be mentioned.
A friend of mine observed that for a long period the Saraswat Brahmins have dominated Konkani literature. Is this true?
This criticism was true till a few years ago but not any longer. Since a good education was easily accessible to them, a good majority of the writers in those days were Brahmins. After independence, the first chief minister Bandodkar ordered for schools to be opened even in the tiniest of villages. It became possible for the younger generation to easily learn the Konkani language, since studying Marathi had made them acquire a mastery over the Devanagari script. After education was made accessible to all, intellectuals began to emerge from the ranks of the till then oppressed and backward classes. The emergence of Pundalik Naik, who belonged to an agricultural family, was a turning point in Konkani literature. Similarly, Gajanan Jog who belongs to the Bhat community also contributed to enriching Konkani short story genre. Mahabaleshwar Sail belongs to Karnataka, a state neighbouring Goa. Among the other noted writers are Devidas Kadam, Prakash Paryekar, Vasant Bhagawant Sawant, and Jayanti Naik. All of these writers brought a certain native flavour to their works. All of them continue to write even today. That is why I can say with all certainty that the Konkani short story genre has a bright future ahead.
Let us talk of Konkani novels now. Is it true that after the first novel written by Shenoy Goembab, the next acknowledged novel was Pundalik Naik’s Acchev? Why was there such a huge time gap?
Shenoy Goembab’s novel Sanvsar Butti was published in 1928. We are proud to acknowledge this as the first Konkani novel. Sanvsar Butti means ‘the deluge’. This novel had philosophical overtones. The novel was all about how all the people of the earth die and begin their journey to heaven. The book is full of profound arguments and counter arguments. I think an English translation will soon be made available. The second was Pundalik Naik’s Acchev. We call Shenoy Goembab’s novel the first and Naik’s novel the second by taking into account only the novels written in the Devanagari script and omitting works written in other scripts.
Courtesy: KNIT INDIA THROUGH LITERATURE – Volume III (The WEST)
The Story of a writer
Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo is in many ways the face of Goan literature. He recently completed 50 years as a writer, but still has within him the same urge and restlessness of a budding writer, which according to him is essential if one has to continue one’s journey as an author. “This journey of 50 years is regret free, but I am guilty of not doing much as a writer. I believe that a writer should remain dissatisfied”, says the 70-year-old Damodar Mauzo.
As a writer Mauzo has a special gift; he does not go have to seek out inspiration, instead stories grab him and remain with him. “Many a time stories remain in my head. I start working on them only when the climax of the story comes to me. I don’t write every day, only when I really feel like writing something for that is when the urge leaves me restless till I have penned everything down. Writer Victor Rangel Ribeiro during a workshop on writing happened to tell me that he sometimes rewrites his copy more than ten times. For me that was an amazing discovery. You see I write my stories in one go. When I shared this fact with him he told me that I have a copy-editor within me”, shares the Sahitya Akademi awardee, who has recently returned from Frankfurt, where he had gone to attend the international release of his book ‘Teresa’s Man’. The book is a compilation of short stories written by Mauzo over a period of time and has been translated into English by Xavier Cota. The Goa release of the book will happen on October 24.
TRANSLATION IS THE KEY
On the topic of his book being translated into English Mauzo shares that this is not his first literary offering to be translated further maintaining that his most popular books came to be well read mainly because they were translated. He is also of the firm belief that books in regional languages need to be translated into English and Hindi too because this affords them a wider reach. “Languages have their own boundaries. Once translated it becomes easier to access a wider readership. Additionally, Hindi affords the books easier translation into other regional languages. That’s how my novel ‘Karmelin’ was translated into Oriya, Sindhi and even Maithili”, says Mauzo.
Speaking further he cites the example of Goa’s finest Konkani writer, Ravindra Kelekar, who got nominated for the Gyanpith Award only after his works were translated. “There are many such examples. Take for example Pundalik Naik’s plays, which have still not been translated, or for that matter Mahabaleshwar Sail’s novel ‘Yug Sanvar’. This is the reason people are still unaware about these Goan works of Konkani literature.”
TAPPING ON SHORT STORIES
Predominantly a short story writer Mauzo mentions that Goa is a mine of short story writers and we need to tap the source in the best possible way. “Writer Jose Lourenco once counted the number of short stories written in Devnagri Konkani in dailies, weeklies and annual magazines”, he shares.
“The count came to around 500 to 600 stories a year. But, sadly, we are not cashing on this. We have the Goa Doordarshan channel, which is not producing any quality matter except for news in Konkani. It is actually a centre, but it has been reduced to just a programme generating facility. There are no Konkani serials when we have so much of material on hand. We need at least 12 hours of broadcast time on Doordarshan”, he observes.
Mauzo is of the opinion that every writer has the freedom to choose his/her script. “You can write in any script you want. As a writer one should able to bind people first. This is most important. The writer should also speak Konkani”, he says.
Taking a cue from history in order to settle this row he says, “In the year 1939 a Konkani Parishad was held in Karwar, Karnataka to which Konkani writers of different scripts were invited. At this Parishad it was decided that Konkani should have one script and they nominated Devnagri Konkani as it is best suited for the language and it also belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages. This decision was taken in 1939. We should not go on changing policies at the drop of a hat.”
Recalling another anecdote from Goa’s history, he says, “In the year 1963-64, Manohar Rai Sardesai had written the first text book in Konkani and when doing so he had used both scripts – Devnagri and Romi. But, at that time the priest community of Goa raised objection as in their opinion such as act would divide the community and the idea of dual scripts was dropped.”
BEING PART OF GALF
Mauzo is the one of the co-founders of the Goa Art and Literary Fest (GALF), which will be held in the month of December. He says, “We have been successful in establishing intimacy between writers and readers. Recently, I received an email from poet Keki Daruwalla, who had just returned from the Bangalore Literary Fest. He mentioned that the Goa Art and Literary Fest was the best and that we please keep it like that.”
During the GALF the translation of Mauzo’s book ‘Rumadful’ (a compilation of five long stories) will be released.
On a concluding note when asked to comment on the dearth of second generation Goan writers, he says, “They are now busy with other mediums like television and internet. There is not much emphasis on reading and therefore, in turn, writing. But, I believe that this is a transitory phase and people will have to come back to the written word.”
Courtesy: Navhind Times October 23, 2014.
The Rainy Day
Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the forest.
O child, do not go out!
The palm trees in a row by the lake are smiting their heads
against the dismal sky; the crows with their dragged wings are
silent on the tamarind branches, and the eastern bank of the river
is haunted by a deepening gloom.
Our cow is lowing loud, ties at the fence.
O child, wait here till I bring her into the stall.
Men have crowded into the flooded field to catch the fishes
as they escape from the overflowing ponds; the rain-water is
running in rills through the narrow lanes like a laughing boy who
has run away from his mother to tease her.
Listen, someone is shouting for the boatman at the ford.
O child, the daylight is dim, and the crossing at the ferry
The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly rushing rain;
the water in the river is loud and impatient; women have hastened home early from the Ganges
with their filled pitchers.
The evening lamps must be made ready.
O child, do not go out!
The road to the market is desolate, the lane to the river is slippery.
The wind is roaring and struggling among the bamboo branches
like a wild beast tangled in a net.