By MÁRIO CABRAL E SÁ
Come to my house, anytime any day you wish, but in your own interest warn me (to make sure I’ll be home to receive you) because I have every week appointments with my physicians, labs, surgeons for my never ending health problems – it is no pleasure, believe me, to age and have as many problems.
And I will be happy to show you my share of inheritance from my maternal great-grand-father Manu Martins.
They are six bottles, all of fired clay in which in his time gin used to be exported worldwide. Handmade, of fired clay, bit crude, but more or less of equal shape that will be all my three granddaughters, two by my daughter, one by my son, will inherit.
He was an exceptional man. He died at 37 after marrying three women – one at a time, make no mistake about it.
His palace has yielded place to rubble, but the progeny of his mundkars put it to good use building their own houses with it. The vast area, what of it has not been usurped by his neighbours, is a teakwood grove.
He was a man with a burlesque sense of humour. Close by was the splendid church of St Mathias. In his time, and even in my youth, the week proceeding Easter was spent in “visits” to all shrines of the village and those of nearby parishes. People prayed, offered penance, made vows. The penance could be severe. My dearest cousin Ismália – what a beauty! – had no children and every year she climbed the Divar hill on her bare knees as a vow. Once, her friend - who, I suspect, nursed a secret passion to her, Eduardo Abreu, accompanied her but after his trousers were reduced to rags and his knees to bleeding excoriations, offered her all his hopes and sympathy, but excused himself, never mind the wounded knees, his trousers were of the best cashmere and he could not afford a matching replacement.
There are 30 or more churches in Teeswadi, and of chapels and shrines, no one knows how many. For the villagers the “visits” were more of excursions, and pushed by the crowds that followed them they reached places they had never been to.
Manu Martins’ ancestral house was, it was said, bigger than the Sè Cathedral. His sense of fun was to light his house up with hundreds of candles of bee wax, and burn incense in hundred of thrills. The confused villagers mistook the house for a church and, naturally, visited it. There they found Manu Martins sitting on a throne smoking a long hooka, gifted to him by a descendent of Adil Shah.
Those were the days…
To my surprise, 20 years back, I received a notification from the executors of Manu Martins’ third and last wife. I had a share of 1/27th of his Chicalim property, for which her manager offered me Rs 14,000. What a welcome windfall!!
Well that is how the ‘Morgadas’ (the primogenital heirs), as Manu Martins was, spent their lives and squandered their fortunes.
He had a daughter by his first wife; he chose for her the name Marianinha. I computer-restored an old photograph and think she was no great beauty.
But fair, plump, and sixteen she had many suitors, love then was to watch the beau from the window and smile. One of Goa’s greatest mandos in the opinion of savant Dr José Pereira and composer Micael Martins was the one dedicated to her by a brilliant folk poet who was platonically in love with her “Vo sonsar char dissancho” (This world last but four day. And then we will meet in heaven). Hope they did…
Any good story has a sting in its tail. And Marianinha’s surely had it. Do-good Manuel Casimiro de Sá, most respected elder of the village had long realised that Manu Martins was not competent to manage his immense real estate. On the other hand, a prosaic man, he did not lay great store by folk poets without any substantial means of sustenance.
He was also the guardian of Luis António Xavier Cabral who had lost his mother when he was at her breast, a suckling baby who had earlier lost his father when he was born. True he was a grand-nephew of Canon Joaquim António do Rosário, the only Goan to become Vicar General of the Archdiocese.
Luis António was brilliant at studies and heir to much wealth. He studied medicine at the just opened Escola Médica de Goa, and, in course of time, he was the physician of Teeswadi. He was a man of firm principles, never accepted a penny from his patients, also never borrowed a dime, or loaned a dime to anyone.
Manual Casimiro de Sá arranged Marianinha’s marriage to Luis António.
In his time Luis António repaid his debt of gratitude by pledging his first born, Luciana Amália Lilia das Alores Martins Cabral to his that far, unmarried son, Joaquim Bernardo Marcos Damião de Sá, 18 years older than Luciana, but it was not a great difference of age, he thought.
And that is how their marriage produce five children, two of them girls, alas by now dead and the middle of their three boys was an ugly duckling, yours truly Mário Victor Orlando Pedro do Rosário Cabral e Sá.
A good story?
A Happy Easter to all my readers.