Title: Ferry Crossing: Short Stories from Goa
Edited by: Manohar Shetty
ISBN-13 : 9780140278064
Published by: Penguin Books India
Available on Amazon and Flipkart
Mention Goa and the image that immediately comes to mind for most people is of a place with sun soaked beaches and the locals soaking in feni. Basically, a place where you descend to have a good time. And the demands of tourism, the biggest industry in Goa, ensure that this image is reinforced through advertising and coverage in the media.
Ferry Crossing is an attempt to present to the reader the ‘real’ Goa, inhabited by ‘real’ people living mundane lives, like people anywhere else in the world. As mentioned on the back cover, “the stories …. reveal a Goa infinitely more human and complex than the stereotypical image of an enormous beach resort.”
The book contains twenty seven stories, which were originally written in Konkani, Marathi, Portuguese and English. Whilst most of the stories have been set in Goa itself, three of the stories deal with the lives of the Goans who immigrated to East Africa, a part of the great Goan Diaspora and are set in Uganda and Kenya.
The subjects of the selection range from first love in ‘Innocence’ by Chandrakant Keni to sexual awakening in ‘Transgression’ by Mahabaleshwar Sail; from envy and jealously in ‘The Hour’s End’ by Laxmanrao Sardesai to sharp practices in ‘Tatoba’ by Vithal Thakur; from descriptions of the elite under Portuguese rule in ‘Senhor Eusebio Builds his Dream House’ by Victor Rangel-Riberio to the flights of grandeur of the emigre Goans in ‘At the Shrine of Mary of Angels’ by Hubert Rebeiro; from the exploitation of the poor in ‘The Sign of Ire’ by Orlando da Costa to domestic violence in ‘Theresa’s Man’ by Damodar Mauzo.
One of the most enjoyable stories is ‘The Hour’s End’, in which the main character is Rambhau, who filled with envy cannot bear to see others succeed. Rambhau is in his element when it came to ruining the lives of the young and the underprivileged. When he gets to know that the daughter of a relative Anantrao is to get married, he is determined to stop the marriage from taking place. How he is foiled by Yashwantrao Kosambi, a lawyer makes a an interesting and humorous read.
Another selection that brings out the gradual but steady decline of the elite from prosperity is the story of Uncle Peregrine in a story of the same name by Leslie de Noronha. The life that the elite of Goa lived during the time of the Portuguese rule, when they felt quite alien from the ordinary Goan is very well brought out when describing the upbringing of Peregrine.
Overall, the anthology that was first published in 1998 and has recently been introduced as a text book in schools in Goa is certainly recommended to Goans and non-Goans alike. The former will be able to identify with some of the characters and descriptions. The latter will get a new perspective of Goa which is quite different from what one reads in travelogues and articles about Goa, which seek to reinforce the stereotypical image of Goa as an ‘enormous beach resort’.
For both sets of readers, the introduction by Manohar Shetty, in which he attempts to correct the distorted picture of Goa by highlighting the political and cultural history of Goa, provides a lode of information that even I, as a Goan, was not aware of.
Today we’re on G of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.