Issue NO 7. March 2018
Play: X by Peter Nazareth
With a new introduction by the playwright
The Thing about Myron
By Roanna Gonsalves
A Dolphin in the Ganges
By Steve R. E. Pereira
By Savia Viegas
Two Poems: Going to the River/Benaulim
By Suneeta Peres da Costa
Legacies of the Racialised Body
Artist TextaQueen in conversation with
Dr Ruth D'Souza
Excursions to the South
A look at the race politics of South Africa
By Clifford Pereira
When Home is an Idea
Poet Rochelle D'Silva in conversation with
author Jessica Faleiro
The Bayingyi People of Burma
An insight into the Bayingyi community
By Yvonne Vaz Ezdani
The banner photo is of Kenya. A substantial migration of Goans to Kenya took place at the beginning of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of Selma Carvalho.
Goa and its worlds: A Literary Journey
Edited by Jessica Faleiro and R. Benedito Ferrão
In envisioning this special issue about diaspora, we invited writers of Goan origin to explore contours of belonging, or lack thereof. We defined the Goan diasporic writer as one having been born in or out of Goa, but having lived, or currently living, outside of Goa. In response, the pieces we received laid out a cartography of Goan lives beyond Goa’s borders, but at the same time an imaginary of movement not always dependent on connections to a pre-defined origin. These works take the shape of other locations, grapple with questions of identity, or speak to histories of displacement; yet, they are also invested in exploring what it means to be on lands that are not one’s own, even as these questions re/shape identity and belonging.
Savia Viegas’ story “Husain’s Double” takes us to mid-1980s Bombay, a city once itself part of the Portuguese empire, and historically the launching point for many Goan lives outside the state. We meet Goretti at a time when she is learning to negotiate the intricacies of a migrant’s life created by the shift from provincial living to urban sophistication while surrounded by the grit of a hard city. One sees the parallel between Viegas’ coming-of-age tale and Steve Pereira’s story, “A Dolphin in the Ganges”, which describes the return of a second-generation immigrant to Goa, as if from exile. The culture shock occurs at an unexpected level: the unrealistic expectations of extended family, curtailed freedoms, and powerful prejudices. In meeting “The Other” the protagonist faces the truth about himself. Also about exile, the personal gives way to the historical in Yvonne Ezdani’s narrative non-fiction. Her essay uncovers the rich stories behind the lesser known origins of the Bayingyi community of Burma, whose Portuguese roots are strongly linked to Goa through Filipe de Brito and his wife Luísa de Brito. In this, despite its seeming smallness, Goa’s reach is extended in its historical connections and networks, while also indicating how the past is never done with the present.
Rochelle D’Silva speaks in interview about her recently released poetry book When Home is an Idea (2017). Her poems reflect her travels across geographic boundaries, resulting in their blurring. That it is these blurred boundaries that themselves enter the poet’s lines bears witness to the form her craft takes as chronicle and analysis, tying movement to a sense of self. Ruth DeSouza’s interview with Australia-based TextaQueen elucidates the repression of the racism that migrants encounter and discusses how this accomplished visual artist seeks to exorcise the effects of being othered. Simultaneously, TextaQueen’s oeuvre interrogates settler colonial identity by putting histories of colonialism in, and immigration from, South Asia in conversation with Aboriginal resistance. As the interview suggests, the once-colonized may themselves participate in the disenfranchisement of others.
Cliff Pereira’s personal essay, “Excursions to the ‘South’”, recalls a racist encounter in his childhood that triggers a need to explore his own identity and sense of belonging. Histories of the personal and the political come together in his recollection of life and travel between Africa, Asia, and Europe. Palimpsests of place, as marked by oral and political histories, also feature in Suneeta Peres da Costa’s poems about the Goan landscape, introducing us to their modern-day contamination. They are a reminder of the migrant’s return to a place that memory makes, but whose trajectory is always unfolding, never the same.
The theme of the unknown imbues Roanna Gonsalves’ short story, “The Thing about Myron”, but the unfamiliar, here, is not the terrain of new lands encountered by the immigrant. Rather, it is the seemingly familiar scape of personal relations, the test for which is conventionality. Alienness shows up once more in the appropriately named X. Peter Nazareth’s radio play appears here with a new introduction by the playwright whose literary legacy is synonymous with Goan diasporic writing. The 1965 play returns us to the colonial metropole of England in the afterlife of African post-independence. But as the play enquires, has colonialism really ended if control takes forms other than foreign political dominion?
Together, these works are an atlas of the complex diasporic networks of Goan travels, histories, and displacements. They are an exploration of colonial and postcolonial identities at the intersection of multiple ways of being and becoming. These are the tales of a small place of many worlds.
R. Benedito Ferrão has lived and worked in Kuwait, Goa, the United States, England, and Australia. A writer and academic, he is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Asian & Pacific Islander American Studies at The College of William and Mary. He curated the art exhibition Goa/Portugal/Mozambique: The Many Lives of Vamona Navelcar (Fundação Oriente Gallery, Goa), and edited a book of the same title to accompany this retrospective of Navelcar’s art.
Jessica Faleiro is a novelist, travel writer and a poet. Her debut novel Afterlife (Rupa; 2012) is about a family from Goa and their ’ghostly’ encounters. Her poems, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Asia Literary Review, Indian Quarterly, Coldnoon, Mascara Literary Review, Muse India, IndiaCurrents, Times of India and in various anthologies. Jessica hosts talks on the writing life and runs creative writing workshops. She has an MA in creative writing from Kingston University, UK.
The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Joao Roque Literary Journal. They are here in the spirit of free speech to evoke discussion. You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to lodge a complaint.
© Joao Roque Literary Journal.