Let Me Tell You About Quinta by Savia Viegas
‘Let me tell you about Quinta’ is about Goa. Goa which is an intriguing place, on the face of it. It is the land of sun, sand, and sea. But scratch the surface and you find stories of its inherent culture. A culture that has undergone many changes with the traders who traded and invaded. Savia Viegas, a Goan herself traces the changes that Goa went through from the time it was colonized. Colonized by Portuguese and had church dominating the socio-religious lives of citizens. She traces it to the post-liberation of Goa that brought in democracy even at the panchayat level.
Savia Viegas goes back in time, telling the story of the family that lived in a villa called Quinta. Quinta was situated in the village of Carmona in South Goa. What amazes you is that despite being a coastal village the sea hardly features in their day-to-day lives. And as and when it makes an appearance it is always referring to the tourists who choose to live there. She talks about these two villages.
The Bhatkars and Mudakars which are often mixed. Though some people acknowledged it some not, while everyone knew about it. The story brings out the society of Goa as one that interacts with the outside world. But at the same time prefer to keep them as outsiders. This is something that you can feel even today. You can live in Goa but you cannot be a Goan unless you are born into one of the families here.
The overall feel of the book is very haunting as Savia Viegas talks about the miracles and even has a character called Miracle Aunty. She talks about dreams and even has a subplot on parasitic twin told in a way that it reveals a few secrets hidden inside it. Even the transactions and conversations between people have a haunting aura – as if they are communicating as much at a subtle level as on the surface.
At a social level, it traces the change from colonial rule to democracy and how people react to them, and how the new laws impact each of them. To author’s credit, she narrates without being judgmental. She also shows concern for the old houses which are in great demand by outsiders who want to live in these serene villages. And how the multiple owners who own them neglect them.
She brings out the lure of the Middle East among its younger generations. And having lived in Goa for good 10 months now, I am yet to figure out why they choose to do menial jobs in the Middle East? Why they work on ships when they have the blessing of a heaven that others can only dream of. There are strong women all along the story who hold the family and the family wealth intact. Whereas, men typically come out as useless, necessary evils in the story.
There is the generous use of Konkani and Portuguese words throughout the story. And I think that adds to the essence of the place. As we know the translation of some words in each language is impossible. The narratives sometimes get confusing, the names get all mixed up when it moves back and forth. I kept referring to the family chart at the beginning, every now and then to put the piece I was reading in the correct time and space in my mind.
Read Let Me Tell You About Quinta, to know a Goa that you would probably not get to know unless you were born here.