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Vignettes of Goa

Anthony de Sa’s latest book ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ is a collection of quaint short stories that paint a picture of an idyllic Goan lifestyle that is fast vanishing today. NT BUZZ delves in

CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ

A village mermaid. A secret chest. A willow pattern platter. Indeed, Anthony de Sa’s (or Tino de Sa as he goes by) latest offering ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ consists of many such intriguing tales that will draw you in and keep you turning page after page in anticipation. Indeed, told with wit and subtle humour, each tale has an interesting twist at the end. What makes the stories even more charming is that the author uses the popular rhyme, ‘One for sorrow, two for joy’ as an anchor, with each story, in turn, reflecting the emotions or objects referred to in successive lines of the rhyme.

“I wrote three stories first. Then it occurred to me that they could be linked by this rhyme. The basic ideas for the other stories were already in my mind, but the lines of the rhyme helped me flesh them out and indicate how they could best unfold,” says de Sa, who admits that he was also intrigued by Agatha Christie books that use a line from a rhyme as a title. “I felt that it would be interesting to link a set of short stories in this way,” he says.

Based out of Madhya Pradesh where he is currently the chairman of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority of Madhya Pradesh, and having previously been in the Indian Administrative Services, de Sa belongs to Piedade, Divar. Although he grew up in the little central Indian railway town of Bhusaval in Maharashtra, de Sa has fond memories as a child of spending his summer holidays in the ancestral house in Divar.

“With no electricity and plumbing, we’d use ‘pontis’ and bathe at the well, and we’d love it. Those were idyllic days. Some of those experiences are reflected in the stories of this book. In fact one reason for writing this book was to record the life and times of a Goa that is fast vanishing,” he says, adding that although all the tales are set in Goa, he has taken care to ensure that the language and themes are such that they are able to speak to a more universal audience.

De Sa’s love for writing began quite early in life and he would often write letters to the editor for newspaper dailies and later wrote articles for magazines. But “the tipping point”, he says, happened when he won the Times of India National Short Story Competition two years ago. “That’s when I felt confident enough to have my work published,” he says. De Sa went on to win the first prize at the competition again in 2019. Following this, he published ‘The Disrobing of Draupadi and Other Stories’, two months ago. ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ is his second book.

But getting the books out was a challenge as it wasn’t easy to find a publisher, says de Sa. “For some reason publishers seem to prefer novels to short stories. I find this odd, because actually I have noticed that among the public there is a great hunger for and appreciation of short stories. But winning the national competition was a great boost. When that happened, publishers began to sit up and take notice,” he says.

‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy’ was formally released on January 10 at the Bhopal Lit Fest by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, and politician and writer Shashi Tharoor. “Lit fests are a great thing. The more the better. I do realise that they are not all of the same quality but they give new authors a chance to interact with more established ones, and also provide a great platform for the discerning public to be exposed to a wide variety of current literature,” he says.

And de Sa is already hard at work on his next writing projects. “I’m working on  another collection of short stories, a novel for older children, and – most interesting – a history of Goa!” he says.

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