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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Teresa's Man and other stories from Goa - Book Review

There are many treasures of literature hidden in regional languages. I laud Teresa' Man and other stories from Goa for its effort to bring regional gems into the English language. Indeed had these stories not been translated from Konkani into English, I would have definitely missed a great deal.

Damodar Mauzo is a Sahitya Akademi winner. He writes in Konkani language. Xavier Cota has translated his stories into the English language. Teresa's man is compilation of stories written by him over a period of more than four decades.

There are fourteen stories in this compilation. The stories deal with a variety of subjects with human emotions at its core. In the land of humans, is a poignant tale of a starved, drought affected farmer who hankers to live a human life by migrating to the city. It exhibits the conflict between the farmers who are compelled to sell their cattle for they have nothing to feed them and the city bred animal activists. She's dead narrates how difficult it is to break the news of a woman's death to her husband who is keen to enjoy those little pleasures of life which his deceased wife would not have allowed him to. The Vignaharta is the story of a man waiting for a birth or death in his family so that he will not have to spend on Ganesh Chatuthi festivities. We find characters like Kustha, who bring only the news of death, illness and other misfortunes,  in our everyday lives.

Bandh is a dramatic story showing the effects of a bandh called in the name of language, on those who have hand to mouth existence. It portrays the motor-cycle taxi culture unique to Goa. Coinsanv's cattle displays man animal relationship. It is a sad story with a happy ending. Teresa's man is the story of a woman who has to work because her husband stays idle. His ego is hurt by the sneers and comments from the society. He does the only thing which he could – battering his wife. For death does not come is one of the most interesting stories in the book. Its protagonist is a water snake who has to live for death does not come.

The best story in the compilation comes at the fag end. A writer's tale is an intriguing narration of idiosyncrasies of a near nymphomaniac writer.

The narration is simple and crisp. You will enjoy reading these stories. They will sensitize today's software bred pizza-burger generation to the realities of life.

The title Teresa's Man and other stories from Goa is deceptive. All the stories are not from Goa. The first story in the book From the Mouths of Babes is a bit out of place. The line on page 159 “Shami and helps us,” makes no sense and is grammatically incorrect. The meanings of Kokani words used in the stories ought to have been given in the form of a glossary. Still these translations are not to be missed. They have definitely enriched the English literature.

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