Friday, June 09, 2006

The apple never falls far from the tree

This is something my folks and Nana told me... I have no recollection of any of these events.

The year was either 1983 or 84 and the Delhi section of the clan had carted themselves down to Goa in the blissfully searing heat of May.
This was the first time I was going to Goa, or specifically the family home.
To get to the village - Divar - you have to drive east from Panjim down to Old Goa and take the ferry across the road from the Bom Jesu Cathedral.

After you cross the river, you have to drive about a kilometre through paddy fields till you get to the fork in the road. We were all packed into two Ambassadors and self, sister and the folks were in the lead car with cousins, aunt and Nana bringing up the rear.

According to my folks, even though my father was foggy on the directions, I led the taxi driver right till the house, unerringly through winding village lanes.
When we got to the house, I'm supposed to have jumped out, run to the balcaon (the porch in every Goan home) and said, "At last I'm home," in Portuguese.
I can't speak, read or write Portuguese .. except for maybe a few gaalis.

Later that evening, the villagers put together a little fiesta for us (everyone's related to everyone on the island) and some of the older gents had rigged out an impromtu gig with a sax, tuba, couple of horns and a guitar.

One Mr Mascarenhas was playing the saxophone and I'm supposed to have gone up to him, sat down next to him and stared at him shamelessly for half an hour before pointing to the sax and saying, "Give that back, that's mine."

Mr Mascarenhas apparantly got up in indignation at the little brat and asked who I belonged to.
My grandfather's name was Bernard. He took the aerial route before I saw daylight, but I was named after him.
When someone shouted, "That's Bernard's grandson," Mr Mascarenhas allegedly turned white, said, "Well, this is Bernard's saxophone," and fainted.

A few days later, there was some argument over visiting relatives and hitting the beach between Nana and Dad, and I'm, again, supposed to have walked into the room and, in Portuguese, chided my grandmother for yelling at my father, and told everyone to pack the picnic baskets and head to Calangute.
This episode apparantly had everyone psyched out. Divar is typically superstitous rural India, so within a matter of hours, the wailing women had turned up with chillies and amulets to ward off the 'evil spirit'.
My family never did know what to make of it, but there's still ancient Flavia Esmeralda Coutinho who still calls me 'the strange little boy'. Except, this past time when I went visiting, the hair, the beard and the tattoos were too much for her.

I have absolutely no recollection of the trips to Goa with my folks (in 1983, 84 and 85), although I do have hazy memories of concurrent events.
The following year, when Mr and Mrs Mascarenhas came to Delhi to get their visas for America, they refused to stay in the house with the boy with the 'evil eye'.

Wierd shit still happens occasionally when I'm in Goa, though never frequently. It's never anything tangible although it's always reassuring somehow...
Forgotten scents, nostalgic bylanes, snippets of fleeting overheard conversation by familiar strangers, and the music... always the music...

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