Sunday, 11 January 2015

Kenna Kenna Man Majhe

-Brian Mendonça

Kenna kenna man majhe
Pixe kashe bauvta vanyar
Kenna talyar, kenna malyar
Man mhaje ravna tharyar.

The opening verse of this beautiful poem by Sushmita Naik, is full of the cadence of Konkani poetry. The inversion of the syntax, the musicality, the tautness of phrase and the elegance of thought enable complete identification of the reader with the sentiments of the poet. An inadequate translation could be: Sometimes my mind /loses its senses and wanders like the wind / Sometimes by the lake, sometimes with the earth / my mind doesn’t stay in one place.

Those who understand the original are blessed indeed. They need no intermediaries. The poem was published in Devanagri in the Sunday edition of the Konkani daily Sunaprant (28 Dec. 2014).  Just below the poem was Dr. Rajay Pawar’s review of young Konkani poets titled ‘Yuva Kavita Apeksha Vadaita.’ Pawar, a colleague of mine, was one of the Konkani poets I spoke on at a recent talk I was invited to deliver in a college in Goa. His poem, ‘Computer Ek Upkar Kar’  on how the computer has displaced the old way of life in Goa is very popular and prescribed for college students in the volume titled Kavyafulam.  The Konkani poems of Nutan Shakardande, Pundalik Naik, Nagesh Karmali and Walter Menezes, were also read and discussed.

I titled my talk, ‘Glimpses of Contemporary Goan Poetry in English and Konkani.’ It is vital for the youth, I said, to bridge the schism between English and Konkani writing in Goa. Students of English literature and students of Konkani literature are stuck in their own silos blissfully unaware of writing in the other languages of their own state. While this focus may get them better marks it is cultural suicide for Goa.

In a memorable line at a culture conclave at Ninasam in Shimoga district, Karnataka, social scientist Shiv Vishwanathan pointed out, ‘To be an Indian you have to be illiterate.’ Only an illiterate in India, he argued, can speak five languages, thereby keeping cultural memories and stories alive.  English-speaking Goans must shed their shyness to speak, read and write Konkani.  After I had written about Yuvamahotsava  last year -- the annual inter-collegiate meet on Konkani language and literature, one remarked that Konkani needs more presence on the internet.

In a grim scenario Charlie, who is down from London, bumps into uncle Duming in Goa. Charlie wants to learn Konkani because he needs to communicate with his tenants who are refusing to vacate. Uncle Duming tells him, ‘Ti famil, ji tujea pai-n bhaddeak dovorli ti Madrasi famil, ani atam tim besbori Konkani uloitat, ani itli vorsam tim tumchea ghorant ravtat. Tim atam bhair soronk kotthinn re baba.’ A sadder but wiser Charlie returns to London vowing to learn Konkani and speak in Konkani to his children. Uncle Duming’s words ring in his ears, ‘Tujea bapain tujem Gõykarponn kaddun ghetlem. Tum atam Gõykar uronk nam. Tum Konkani ulounk noko zalear tum Gõykar mhunn koso sabit kortolo?*
*See ‘Gõykarponn?’ by Willy Goes in Gulab – a monthly published in Romi Konkani (XI.32 Nov. 2014); Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 11 January 2015. Pix source Venchille Khin- Collection of Konkani Essays  by Dinesh Manerker at Konkani Shoppe on ebay.

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