We reproduce this heartfelt, perceptive insight into the life and times of Goa’s most famous singer Lorna, written with warm, lyrical passion, by a devout Lorna fan in remembrance… Editor
By Dr Swapnil Shekhar Salkar
SOME music you are born listening to. The lub-dub of a heartbeat, the splashing waves in liqueur, a gasp of air inflating the lungs…the list can go on. Such primal sounds are reflected in a person’s lifelong music. Lorna is the owner of one such primal sound in my life.
Lorna reminds me of long drives in the countryside with daddy, mamma and a recent born Sonal. When Lorna sang, “Devaan mhaaka ujwadachi ponti dili/Athra varsa opurbaay tuji keli…,” my daddy sang along with moistened eyes. He looked proudly at mom and his lil ponti. He saw her growing years, her antics, her successes and failures. He stopped and wept at the moment Lorna sang about ponti (lamp in Konkani) finally taken away to her husband’s abode.
Lorna is etched in my toddler conscience as the sound that soothed me when my tears welled up seeing my parents crying. Without knowing the words, or understanding the complexity of a father-daughter relationship in changing times, I felt the first pang of jealousy along with this proud welling in my chest filled with new found love towards the cute little lump which cried a lot and slept the rest of the time. Too complex for a guy with hardly five years on this planet. Lorna’s voice was my ark in this flood of emotions.
Lorna never sang political songs. She sang social songs. She sang about a guy gone mad because of a love affair gone rogue in Piso with equal relish as she chided her reluctant lover in Amerikak Pauxi luring him with car rides and posh life as her toy. In Lisboa, she pined for her lover in Portugal, crooning like a forlorn fairy. Her ferocious vocal solos in Maria provided perfect counterfoil to the sugar sweet voice of Mohammad Rafi wooing impeccably even in a foreign tongue. But the most scathing song which Lorna sang was as a victim of a drunkard husband in Bebdo. Along with Chris Perry, Lorna sung gold. She sang with love. A star-crossed love.
Lorna and her voice can’t be separated from the trumpets and eccentricity of Chris Perry. An observant songster, an expressive musician, a lover, a drunkard and in Lorna’s own words, a guru. He carved Lorna out of a giggling schoolgirl. Together they spent nine years of passion and songs and fights and pain. Towards the end of their relationship, they would fight incessantly and then record heart-wrenching ballads like Adeus and Sorgar Rajeant.
Perry castigated himself with sharp words and Lorna sang them like a string on the verge of snapping. He was a man with the responsibility to take care of his wife, parents and kids. He couldn’t marry her. He couldn’t leave her. When love reared its ugly possessive avatar, he tied her to a contract. Lorna accepted it and spent 20 years of her youth being a typist, a boozard, a receptionist. Everything but the crooner that she was. She loved Perry more than her talent. Present day existentialists will call her naïve and un-learned. But there’s something in the dignity with which she spent her 20-year “vanvaas” which gives a certain sheen to her songs.
The Upanishads recognize a type of soul… superior to human, called Kinnara. These are the souls who bring joy and happiness to the world around them while their personal life is filled with pain. Lorna and Perry fed on this pain and created a blanket of songs to soothe mere mortals like me. The star-crossed lovers stamped their existence across the whole length of Goa and beyond.
Lorna Cordeiro isn’t a much searched word on Google but once we scratch over the aspect of fame and recognition, especially international, off an artist, we begin to discover a different dimension of the music that fills our ears. Lorna pervades the soul of all Goans who think in Konkani. Nightingale of Goa seems too much of a spin-off, but it would be the sound of Goa I would remember in my fading hours of twilight.