Mangalore, Sept. 24, 2012: “Poetry is not just about pleasure, it is about moving the heart, which is the seat of all emotions. My poems are all about relationships between people, they also underline religious and social hypocrisy”
This was how one of the eminent and finest Konkani poet, John Baptist Sequeira, popularly known as J.B.Sequeira, used to describe his poetry. This name which had left an indelible mark in Konkani literature and poetry, has faded into history. The demise of this eminent poet who had an aura of a special warmth and charm around him, has left a void that is hard to be filled. Sequeira passed away on September 6, at Australia leaving behind his wife, two children , grand children and innumerous admirers, at the age of 75.
Sequeira was a poet who displayed remarkable zest and verve which could inspire anyone. His writings had a rustic flavor with a universal appeal for the common man that brought him closer to the masses.
Born in Mumbai, but brought up in the jasmine town of Shankerpura near Udupi, Sequeira had his schooling at St John’s Higher Primary School, Shankerpura and SVS High School Katapady. He later moved to Mumbai where he set up the Khar Battery Service, an automobile battery dealership and service outlet.
Sequeira’s literary pursuit had begun right since his school days when his write-ups used to regularly appear in Konkani journals in Mumbai and Mangalore. His first major work was the novel “Solvonint Jik(Triumph in Defeat) in the year 1957. His concern for the society motivated him to compile and edit The Bombay Canara Catholics Directory in 1964.
He seriously took up to poetry in the ‘80s and had several anthologies to his credit. Some of his popular works are “Kallzache Umalle (Outpourings of the Heart), “ Sapann Adhurem”( A Dream Unfulfilled ) , “Chikollin” and “Satam Khatam” published both in Devanagari and Kannada scripts.
One of his pioneering works was “Mukhavaram Movallam”- in three volumes, a unique and massive collection of about 25000 Konkani colloquialisms, idioms, proverbs, sayings, innuendoes and popular quotes, to commemorate the first World Konkani Convention held in Mangalore in 1995. All the three volumes were published in Kannada, Devanagari and Roman scripts.
A few other books authored by him include, ‘Doth Kithli’,‘Vavraddeancho Tallo’, ‘Kallzache Umalle’, ‘Ek Sopann Adhurem’ , ‘Oxim Ailim Lharam’, ‘Sotam Khotam’, ‘Avalle Dhuvalle’and ‘Ami Konglish Uloitanv’-Vol I (April 2004). His latest work was the second volume of ‘Ami Konglish Uloitanv.’ Some of his works have also been translated to English and Tulu.
Sequeira’s love for his mother tongue and social concern had driven him towards involving in a number of Konkani related activities. He was the past vice-president of Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Mumbai and had presided over the 18th All-India Konkani Sahitya Sammelan held at Curchorem in Madgaon, Goa in 2007.
A number of awards had also come Sequeira’s way. Some of them include the Sahitya Academy Award (1988), The Dr TMA Pai Foundation Award (1989) and Sandesha Konkani Best Literature Award (2003). He had also been conferred the title ‘Kaviraj’ by Kalasagar, Mumbai.
Offering his tributes to Sequeira, Basti Vaman Shenoy, President of Vishwa Konkani Kendra said “J B Sequeira was a true Konkani activist and worked hard to unite Konkani speaking people and bringing them to the fore of Konkani movement.”
“ JB Sequeira is a poet of the soil and the soul. His heart is stirred and his soul is restless as he sees inequality, poverty and injustice,” these words from Santan Rodrigues, Editor of former poetry quarterly Kavi India in his foreword to JB Sequeira’s anthology of poems “Heart’s Outpourings,” best describes the greatness and the uniqueness of the poet in the Late Sequeira.
J. B. Sequeira was a regular contributor to Mangalore Today Magazine. His poems and articles were highly appreciated by our readers. We miss him. May his soul rest in peace.