Sunday, 6 April 2014

Water from the Sanctuary

- Brian Mendonça

One of the things I remember of our hunt for a home in Goa is the view I got of the Mandovi river meandering behind the churches of Old Goa. We were standing somewhat precariously on the top floor of a structure under construction at what is one of the hottest property locations in Goa today – the Kadamba plateau.  The flats overlooking the river were sold out.  

Developers make it a point to mention if the dwelling is sea-facing or river-facing in their ads. The Mandovi as well as the Zuari, not to forget the Arabian sea itself, have their votaries. But would you pay a crore to see a river flow by your balcao when it has always been there for your viewing pleasure 24X7? Some -- in fact, many -- think it’s a good idea.

‘The river is within us, the sea is all around us,’ wrote the poet T.S. Eliot. Does our body chime to the river and the sea in different ways? Are we drawn to the water inexorably because our body is made up of 70% water? Do the tides affect us in imperceptible ways like the moon does?

Hearing the 6 p.m. Konkani Mass at the Cathedral at Old Goa I was thinking the view of the Mandovi I had, must have been so for so many centuries! I was just a wayfarer of time who like the river would soon be on my way. This river, so pristine, so stately, renewed my being as only Goa does. It was pure living water. 

A reference to living water from the Bible was inscribed on our wedding invitation as a blessing for our future life together. We were astounded when we found that the Lenten reading for the day after our site visits last week was the same! And he said to me, “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.” (Ezekiel 47). This was reassurance enough. It was like a prophecy which was about to redeem itself.

In Goa one is spoilt for choice. Exquisite views, warm people, spiritual solace, an unhurried lifestyle, the pleasure of seeing your child grow up in Goa, a lavish palette of seasons – all make Goa an unmatched destination. I use the word destination, since at some point in life you have to drop anchor and return to your roots.

‘You are an insider, as well as an outsider,’ a friend of mine once told me. Insider because of my Goan identity: outsider because I see Goa with fresh eyes every time.  Liquid terms like water supply, ground water, bore wells, water bodies, swimming pools are all part of the spiel of the seller. But it is the promise of Ezekiel, without which nothing can come to pass. 
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez. Goa on Sunday, 6 April 2014; Photo of churches at World Heritage site, Old Goa with Mandovi river in the background - courtesy Rajan Parrikar

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