By IJ Saldanha Shet
Mangalore, Dec 5, 2011: "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader, it is said. It is not just paper, words, or collection of sentences that are found in the books. It could be a solution to a problem, recalling of history, events and different vistas of life," Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!
It is time that people get back to the reading culture, slow down and be more at peace and in good health! Yes, and resist ’Facebook Fatigue’. Call it co-incidence or destiny, all of a sudden some well versed and committed people of Mangalore (or who lived in Mangalore once upon a time) have started documenting their childhood memories as well as research the history of Mangalore. After ‘Blossom Showers’ (by Giselle Mehta), ‘Childhood Daze’ (by Savitri Babulkar) and ‘Louis Puchhekanna’ (by Sidney Pinto), now, well known author of ‘Saravati’s Children’ (19990 Alan Machado (Prabhu) is on the thresh hold of placing in the hands of the world ‘Shades within Shadows’ to be released in our own Kodial shortly.
ALAN MACHADO PRABHU, is a descendant of a branch of the Machado (Prabhu) family, ganvkars of the 12th vangod of Aldona, who emigrated to Mermajal circa 1680. The family was decimated by the Captivity with only one known survivor, João, who returned to the ancestral in circa 1799. An engineer by profession, Alan has worked in Australia and the UK. A passionate investigator of his community’s past and related history, his first book, Sarasvati’s Children, is a history of the community from pre-conversion times to immediately after the Captivity. Alan is currently working on a major historical work on the Captivity and its causes sourcing a wealth of information dating to those times, a work that promises incisive and new interpretations on this traumatic episode in the community’s history.
Alan presently lives in Bangalore with his wife Zina. Their three children, Akil, Zara and Alpa are all abroad. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes contact with people who are aware,concerned and interested.
The turbulence of the recent releases of exciting Mangalore oriented novels launched into the literary world with the resultant ethos and flavour of Kanara is definitely generating a series of sharp after shocks. Many Mangaloreans the world over are head over heels falling for the written word on their hoary history. IQs and EQs are taking news curves raising the HQs! Recently, Giselle Mehta’s master piece "Blossom Showers" is now gaining ground rapidly and then Late Sidney Pinto’s simple but high caliber novel "Louis:Puchhekanna" is a hot talking point not to leave out Savitri Babulkar’s charming ’Childhood Daze’! The buzzz word from the horse’s mouth is that ALAN MACHADO PRABHU who’s book ’Sarasvati’s Children’ has been a special historical reference of the community for the last ten years is all fired up to launch a path breaking novel set in the tangled roots of history of the Konkani speaking Catholics of Kanara. The very name of the book "SHADES WITHIN SHADOWS" inspires no end and the discerning reader from the older generation to the teenager will be captivated in different degrees and shades of involvement that will never be defined in terms of mere words!
SHADES OF THE BOOK:
This pre-view from a talk with him lifts me to a new high on the potential preservation of the past and culture of "Amcho monis ani amcho baas" that these new novels along with the older school of authors have given this unique community and culture group the world over! The basic cover revolves round a huge tree, which is the rallying point of every important Indian community - the Kalpa Vruksha - tree of life!!!
Perhaps that is the template the base of his exclusive dream. Indications are that he has more to follow in the near future. This dream has taken his lucid and dedicated mind deeply obsessed with the clarity of his commitment to project a community immemorial and keep it so in the minds and hearts of posterity. His ascendants who centuries ago were divinely driven down South of the Indian Peninsular (Dakshinapatha) caused by the disappearance of the major river of the Sind - the mythical Sarasvati. These extraordinary people known generally as Sarasvats settled and flourished in the vedic manner in present day Goa or Konkan. In circa 1500AD the Portuguese inquisition destabilized the generally called ’Pancha’ Gauda Sarasvat Brahmans (GSB) from Goa and brought many of them to Kanara and some them accepted Catholicism along with other local people and became rooted in the soil of their adoption to contribute in great ways to the prosperity of the land called South Kanara, embracing the present Uttara Kannada,Udupi,Dakshina Kanada and Kasargod.
The Author, Alan has shaped a ’psychospirtual’ effort using simple characters of the old world in name and action. It will attract and educate the virtual people that remember and recall the past historic roots of trees into historic giant trees to fascinate! Unending serious search of the aged as well as the young pleasure seeker out to widen his HQ - Happiness Quotient. With a fine tooth comb this dream writer’s untiring study and research combs the micro roots of a community to recreate personalities,circumstances and episodes that can thrill different ’Shades’ of the serious historian and casual lover of folk lore human and recognizable. Following ’Blossom Showers’ , ’Louis:Puchhekanna’ and ’Daze’, this historical data based luminous novel is set to take English language reading to a new plane. The generous and fitting use of Konkani names and words is a tribute to the finesse of this ancient language and will hopefully reinforce admiration from newer groups. Author Alan Machado Prabhu has made a heroic effort to document and preserve the distant and immediate past of the Mangalorean community for posterity without disturbing any shades of historical truth and fact even by a shadow. Amazing!
BOOKING THE VIEW:
The Novel has 21 chapters,about 300 pages and 80,000 words. The first chapter gives the facts that were the back drop till the times in Gomantak now Goa ( before 1500 AD). Many a cause with religion, economy and other vital matters are as responsible for the migration South. The novel, after the first chapter, breaks into a story of lives of two families in and around Mangalore, very skillfully woven with characters names that are commonly heared. The conditions,sitcom and environment is created from authentic data reconstructed from researched material collected from all over Kanara by the very sensitive author Alan Machado.
Hyder Ali came to power in 1763 and his son Tipu Sultan in 1783 - both rulers are considered very enlightened in their outlook. The Konkani Christians in Kanara, migrants from Goa at this point of time continued to maintain their pre-conversion past and were more ’Christians in faith alone, retaining most social rights of Hinduism’. The story and characters of the novel would grip the reader with wondrous details of the lives of the times. The Tuluva culture was closely twined with these early settlers going about their agrarian activities in the seven hills surrounding Mangalore or Kudla or Kodial. The community’s life in Tulunadu’s rich cultural world: the Huli Vesha; Aaati Kalenja; the Bhoothakola; Balis to Panjurli and Pilchandi (demigods), and so on are given weighted association with the characters in great care. A Catholic exorcism is narrated from eye witness accounts. Hindu and other local festivals are observed by the players giving deep insight to the reader, of old goings on. Interestingly, many Mangaloreans can closely identify and recall several typical characters in the novel with many incidents enlivening the tale: a haunting; encounters with the musth (female ghost); the friendship between Paulu and Chiku, the home-grown pig; Natalami’s possession and exorcism. The characters emerge alive and true to life: little Paulu and his fear of the ancient village banyan tree and what it might harbour; Foka, his hyperactive brother, their neighbour and friend Hannu; odd job man Bastaio with his fondness of liquor; the aged house hold help Natalami; naive Konngi, calculating Kukladi; Kunntto Pasku and Bokulbai. Many of their lives end prematurely on the road to exile or in the city of exile - Srirangapatna.
Christian observances like Monthi festh,Christmas and Kuswar, weddings,funerals and so on in their early forms are brought to light. It should be recalled that in the 18th century the clergy and so on were in small number and their interaction with the neophytes was quite rare and people were in awe and distant. Also literacy was very poor and Christianity not well understood by the new followers of the area. This book will serve as an invaluable means to preserve the ethos for posterity as they are all endangered with the new emerging amalgam of cultures. At least those interested can get a ’rear view mirror’ perspective any time in the future! Kudos to all our Kodial rooted authors!
I J Saldanha-Shet.