by Brian Mendonca
And I missed you
aunty and uncle
in the Mapusa market,
amid the chillies
the gud, the tamarind
and the vinegar.
whispering over my shoulder
as I stumbled onward
Cancer claimed you
when you were feeble
flattened by chemo,
baldness, a witness to your pain.
I miss your loving smile
Your gestures of welcome
The way you used to say 'Let it be!'
When baba used to romp around your house.
You perhaps knew she was sinking, uncle
In your whimsical way you remained
stoic yet unstable.
When you left, ailing for Mumbai
at your only daughter's call
You perhaps knew you would not return.
You 87 and aunty 86
What more could life offer you?
A good job in L and T
an officer's post at Mantralaya
You both lived
and worked in Mumbai.
Goa seemed an interlude
for the Fall years.
You used to proudly show me the visiting cards
of your sons
-- in Borivili, Australia and New Zealand--
as though they were sitting in your living room.
Once you had cradled them
Now they have cradles of their own.
So now we cannot look forward
to spending the day with you
when we drive in from Vasco
to taste the breezes of Corjuem
sitting on the steps towards the river
where the trucks from Assnora lie unmoving.
Your lives bridged Mumbai and Mapusa
Like the cable-stayed bridges of Worli and Aldona.
fended for life alone
in an old Goan house
sprawling with memories.
Now interred in a cemetery
in far away Kandivili.
No local papers announced your death
as a last salute to an exemplary life.
You were a fan of my articles.
We used to discuss Krishnamurti
Now the hall is silentWaiting to be sold.
So take away the Moira bananas
Put away the new brooms
Hide the fragrant mogra flower.
Wrap those ropes for the fields.
No more salt fish are needed for this house.
The sausages can wait for another day.
The Bombay ducks seem out of joint
and I'll say no to the tendli pickle.
There is a void in my being today
our ancestors have gone to their rest.
a piece of Goa has died.
The market is in mourning.
(Mapusa Market, Goa, 17 November 2015)
Written in loving memory of Anthony D'Mello and Victoria D'Mello from Corjuem, Aldona, Goa who passed away this year. Pix of aunty and uncle with family outside their home taken on 12 May 2013. Pix of Corjuem bridge Aldona and of seller at Mapusa market courtesy joegoaUk. This poem was presented by the poet at Kavya Mahotsav, on the occasion of National Book Week celebrations organized by Institute Menezes Braganza, Panaji Goa on Saturday 21 November 2015.