Teresa’s Man & other Stories from Goa by Damodar Mauzo
Damodar Mauzo is a Sahitya Akademi award winning Konkani author. People also know him as Bhai in Goa. I have had the chance to meet him on many occasions in various literary forums in Goa. Teresa’s Man is the first of his books that I got to read, wonder why I did not read him earlier.
This collection of 14 very short stories by Damodar Mauzo is a simple delight to read. They are simplest possible stories from this state of rather simple people and their simpler lives. Many stories even belong to the simpler times of a few decades back. They all rip apart all the layers that we as humans wear. And also showcase the basic human emotions, the challenges & dilemmas that they face every day. The way they either live with or learn to deal with them. At the end of the book, I admired the simplicity of thought that the author has and his ability to cut through the chaos and bring out a precise point through each of his stories.
While most stories focus on human relationships and their ever-changing nature, there is one story that talks about the relationship between a woman from a poor family and her cattle. In a heart-wrenching portrayal, the author tells us how the woman wants to keep and sell the cattle at the same time. She is bound to be sad in either situation. Even if the reasons are going to be entirely different.
A couple of stories deal with death, one where a family is preparing itself to meet death and the other where a tree is waiting for death, for it has to live until death decides to come. Some stories just come from an incident like how to inform someone that his loved one has passed away and what goes through the mind of someone who has to pass the bad news while others are inspired from incidents that we sometimes get to see in public spaces.
There are stories which explore human nature. Like a story where parents of a special child want to celebrate the birthday of their son but do not want him to be humiliated by the guests. And how they prepare the house to look like it belongs to a normal child. Another explores the revolt of a woman. Whose husband and mother-in-law confine her as per their wishes. I loved the story where a man with a practical view of life breaks down when he is alone while maintaining an outward façade – tells me to what extent we humans can go to wear our chosen masks.
Language is extremely simple just like the stories. Don’t know which one of author Damodar Mauzo or translator Xavier Cota deserves more credit for it. Teresa’s Man is the first Konkani book that I read. Even in translation, and I am keen to explore some more now. The cover of the book is beautiful – it captures the essence of Goa so well. Kudos to the cover designer…