A happy en famille picture… (r to l) Dr Colaço with daughters Elaine, Anabelle and wife Fernandas
by TARA NARAYAN
IT was December 11, 2018, and a lot of folk in Goa (and out of Goa) were wishing Goa’s favourite and most visible doctor, Dr Francisco Colaço, a very happy 75th birthday! Facebook was flooded with greetings. Friends of Dr Colaço had formed a felicitation committee to celebrate his birthday, first at the Govind Ramnath Kare Auditorium at Gomant Vidya Niketan and then later on a birthday party at the hotel called The Venue in Margao.
Who does not know Dr Colaco! A niz Goenkar, his is the ever-caring face of Catholic Goa, a pioneering echo cardiologist, an evergreen good Samaritan. It was indeed in the fitness of things for a Citizens Committee led by businessman, author and
philanthropist Datta Damodar Naik, joint convener advocate Cleofato Almeida Coutinho, to felicitate the good doctor ceremoniously. Various speakers from chief guest Dr Ganesh Devy to Fr Aleixo Menezes, Damodar Mauzo and Dr Oscar Rebello spoke on the occasion, showering many tributes on the good doctor for having his heart in the right place, for speaking up when someone needed to speak up, and in general being an exemplary friend, doctor, husband and father — not to forget that he is Goa’s singing doctor and loves to spend his evenings singing his heart out at his favourite venues down south Goa.
Needless to say a visibly moved Dr Colaço accepted everyone’s birthday greetings with an eloquent acknowledgement of his own. In fact his acknowledgement is so good that we must quote it here at length and more or less in toto.
Said Dr Francisco Colaco, “Living through three-quarters of a century is definitely a reason to celebrate and I thank the guests for their good wishes. I thank the members for the Organizing Committee especially Mr Datta Naik and advocate Cleo. I did my level best to dissuade them from holding any felicitation ceremony but they would not take no for an answer. As I reminisce, I confess, I may not be able to tell you precisely what the world was like, when this now 75-year old person that I am was born.
“But you will all agree that a lot has happened in the span of three quarters of a century. Major historical events have taken place in Goa. From the Portuguese regime we went on towards Liberation and now we find ourselves as if in a struggle for a second Liberation. From an atmosphere of communal harmony we find increasingly the seeds of communal dissension being sowed here and there. Sometimes it looks like we are almost going through a period of political anarchy and chaos. It is heartening though to note that we are all fighting together to save democracy and the right to dissent in this India that is ours, which we love so much. And for that we must pat ourselves on the back.
“When friends pass comments about me, some are found saying I look young for 75, while others vouch that I look too old for my age. One thing is true. Like Lucille Ball I believe that “the secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and …lie about one’s age.” I also remember the pointed saying by Jack Benny who said, “Isn’t age strictly a case of mind over matter? Well, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t really matter.”
“Life is indeed a journey; it may be a walk down a tree-lined drive or an uphill ride. It may be a run through a field of grain, or a dance, cheek to cheek, in the rain; it may be a slide down a rugged mountains side or…a struggle with pain and no gain. It could also be a tour of miles that brings sometimes tears, sometimes smiles. But that doesn’t really matter even if we at times sulk.
“In this life we are bound to experience loss, grief, but luckily we have each other for comfort and solace. As far as I am concerned I have tried my best to use my faith to work through any plight. I amply cherish your abundant love. A love that you
have prodigally bestowed on me through all types of weather. Life truly is a journey and I thank you for helping me to make it together.
“As hope springs eternal in the human breast we move on in life convinced that every dawn has a new beginning; every day is heaven’s blessing, a wonderful opportunity to amend some past mistake. Every day we live with hopes that we will begin something anew, no matter the fare that was yesterday on our plate. Every day we await patiently a new aurora, to be added to the wishes we wished and patiently waited for.
“On balance I don’t how much I achieved all these years, but to remain alive till 75 is in itself an achievement. I profusely thank Goa, family and friends. I thank God for helping me through my career. If I have been successful to some measure I feel it is because perhaps as a physician I always thought my job was not only to find the right treatment but, what is more, to help the patient find an inner reason for living, resolving conflicts and harnessing free healing energy. I thank God he gave me a lovely spouse and most wonderful children. That I had a great marriage. My wife went through many sacrifices. God gave us three petals, but took one. We were five, now we are four. Someday in eternity we believe we will be five once again.
“Friends, life is what we make it, even though the beauty of days is ours for free. Each one must plough our separate furrow. For every tongue there’s a different litany. Nothing loved is ever truly lost. The slow descent of evening’s mellow bars strengthens courage and renews belief that every path leads upward to the stars!
If happiness keeps us sweet,
Trials keep us strong!
Sorrows keep us human!
Failures keep us humble!
Success keeps us glowing!
But only faith keeps us going!
“Life is a journey that must be travelled no matter how bad the road and the bend. Provided we keep in mind that one day our journey will come to an end.”
Needless to say many in the audience were moved to tears listening to Dr Francisco Colaco’s straight-from-the- heart words! And then there it was time to move on to the birthday party venue, cut the cake, pose for many pictures, have a drink, dance a
little to the music belted out by Lulu’s Rhythm & Blues band…hug and say hello to more friends not seen for a long time and share common thoughts and aspirations for better days in Goa, achhe din will come and very soon now. Happy birthday once again dear Dr Colaco, this was a birthday to remember.
— Tara Narayan