Musings about Goa

Poet Ramesh Ghadi reminisces about Goa of old and the decline of human values in his first poetry book ‘Avoi Zalea Zaanti’. He shares more with
NT BUZZ

CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ

When Ramesh Ghadi went to work in Abu Dhabi in 1990, he quickly began missing his Goa. “Within a month I started missing my home, my fields, my green village,” says the Saligao-based poet, who used to work there as a gym instructor in a health club, while also simultaneously helping out in taking care of the pool.

This pool, he recalls, had a big lawn around it, while behind the club were horse stables. Ghadi also enjoyed spending time helping the gardener and sometimes would go sit with the stable boys too. The people who looked after the garden and the stable boys were from Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively, and the others with them used to tease him about his easy relationship with these people from Pakistan and Bangladesh. “I told them that when I go around the garden, it reminds me of the smell of the grass of my home. Similarly, the smell of the horse stables reminded me of my cow sheds. All this made me feel like I’m at home,” says Ghadi. His colleagues then jokingly told him that he should ask his mother to send some soil from his village in the mail. “And that was the inspiration for my first poem which I penned in a diary I had started keeping,” says Ghadi.

This poem, he then read to some of his fellow Goans there and it was well received. “At that time I was only writing small verses of four lines. Owing to my job, I could not give much attention to poetry writing. But when I came back to Goa in 2006, I joined a multilingual poetry group and became more consistent in my writing,” he says.

Soon his poems began getting published in different publications like Bimb, Jaag, Gulab, Sunaparant, etc. He was also invited to recite his poems at events like the All India Konkani Sahitya Sammelan, Sahitya Academy poetry meet at Goa in 2017, Kavya Hotra in 2015 and 2016, Dakshinayan Abhiyan at Margao 2016, etc. He also organised poetry workshops for higher secondary students and presented programmes on All India Radio, Doordarshan, RDX channel, and won the All Goa poetry writing competition twice. His writings also found a good following on social media as people connected with the rustic themes that abounded in his poetry.

And now, Ghadi has come out with his first poetry book ‘Avoi Zalea Zaanti’ (Mum has grown old).

The 146-page book of verse contains 90 poems and his themes focus on the rustic, a decline in values and human hypocrisy, our treatment of elders, emigration, the travails of the farmer and other toilers, among
others.

Some of his poems include ‘Render’ (the toddy-tapper), and ‘Mhaka Kai Farak Podcho Na’ (It won’t make any difference to me), where he explains why showing affection after a loved one or family member has already departed is totally meaningless.

In ‘Jenna bhata Vikun Sopli’, Ghadi ponders on what happens when we have sold our land, while in ‘Puta, tukavui hich vaat’, he reminds children that they will get the same treatment they mete out to their parents. In ‘Ganv Bhettech Sobith Urona’, he writes that there’s a price to be paid for keeping your village beautiful.

There is a sense of loss amidst the development and change taking place, as Ghadi looks at the lifestyles we have lost. Indeed, while development may be unavoidable, Ghadi believes that there is a need to strike a balance and keep our heritage alive. “We have to realise that farming is important too. When we have so much fertile land, if we don’t make use of this, it won’t be nice. What happens if agricultural products from across the borders are stopped?” he asks. Goa after all, he adds is known for its green landscapes. “People come to Goa for this green beauty and unspoilt beaches and not for those where there are villas on the beach or to see the buildings,” he says.

The cover page of his book has been designed by artist-politician Sanjay Harmalkar, and is quite significant.

“I approached Sanjay who is a close friend of mine eight months ago, and told him that I would send him a photograph of an old lady to paint for the cover. It was then that he suggested that we should paint my mother. And we went ahead with that. However, before the painting could be completed, my mother, who was a huge inspiration for my works, passed away. Thus for me, ‘avoi’ in the title refers both to Mother Earth as well as my own mother. I think it was destiny that she should appear on the cover page of my first book,” he says. By saying that mother has grown old, he says, he is referring to both – the fact that Goa of old is being destroyed due to development, and also to the fact that old parents today are being shifted to old age homes, while the children are abroad.

Published by Goa, 1556, ‘Avoi Zalea Zaanti’ was launched online by Museum of Goa on July 1. Copies will be made available online and will also be available at old leading book stores in Goa, says Ghadi, who also runs a fitness centre in his village, a dream of his mother, that he realised. “My mother used to tell me to do something for the village and so I decided to start this centre. It is not a commercial set up but for the benefit of society,” he says.