What better day to write about this book than one where the sun is shining through my window and reminding me of a place that I have wonderful memories of – Goa! Family vacations, good food and sunshine. ‘Teresa’s Man & Other Stories’ by Damodar Mauzo was originally written in Konkani and has been translated into English by Xavier Cota. When I became aware of this, I was thrilled to say the least as Konkani is my mother tongue and is spoken only by a minority of the Indian populace. The translator’s note at the very end of the book is very insightful as it gives you a few facts about the book e.g. that it was written across 4 decades.
The flavour of the book is humble as its stories narrate the lives of Goans. One is often reminded of the idyllic way of life and at the same time one inevitably takes notice of the fact that although Goa is a vacation spot for many, for Goans it still remains a place where they have to earn a livelihood and face life in all its hues. The stories do a good job of providing a glimpse into the customs and lifestyle of Goa’s 2 dominant religious communities – Christianity and Hinduism.
The book cover is very attractive as it depicts a sketch of a Goan village and makes one want to instantly find out what lies within. The characters come briskly to life in the various stories and I found a couple of characters so endearing that I reread that story! I won’t reveal which one as I don’t want to create a bias before you even start reading.
There are 14 stories in total and my most favourite ones are ‘The Vighnaharta’ as it spoke of the Ganesh Chaturhi festival which has great significance to me and my family and ‘Electoral Empowerment’ which beautifully narrates how the simple act of casting a vote can lead to women empowerment in a patriarchal society. To be fair, I have to say that of all the stories, I didn’t like the one mentioned in the title of the book ‘Teresa’s Man’ as according to me it serves to fan the proverbial patriarchal furnace that Indian society often is.
I enjoyed reading this book and it has definitely made it to my list of favourites. Credit here goes to translators like Xavier Cota that create awareness about the rich body of literature that exists in India’s many regional languages. This book is a great find and is truly a gem! I have well and truly been initiated into translated work and look forward to seeking out many more such books.