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.
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.”
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.”
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.

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