AVATAR: Damodar Mauzo has changed from a shy diffident writer to a bold courageous rebel committed to secular values and fighting the separation and division of freedom.

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Damodar bab Mauzo was awarded the 57th Jnanpth Award 2022. For a Saturday following the week when the miserable state of education in Gujarat came up for all to see. For a Saturday following the week when a 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death in an open space in Delhi by her jilted lover. For a Saturday following the week when even automobile dealers are refusing to accept any Rs2,000 currency notes.
AND a few stray thoughts on niz Goankar Konkani writer, novelist and short story writer Damodar bab Mauzo getting prestigious Jnanpith award. I have known Damodar bab for over 30 years at least. Ever since the Konkani Projeche Awaz agitation to make Konkani the official language of the state. Mauzo was a member of the Goa Bachao Abhiyan and even took a few lathi blows during a police charge on a rally at the Azad Maidan in Panaji. The “Herald” was an active participant in the battle for making Konkani the official language of Goa. While Mauzo’s writing reflects his non-compromising commitment to secular values, he himself came across as a diffident, reticent person steering cldear from any confrontations. The unique thing about Mauzo is that he is a Goan Hindu Konkani writer who wrote extensively about the Catholic minority community. Mauzo’s family owned a mini-supermarket at Majorda, a Catholic- dominated village.
Mauzo did his writing late at night after the groceries and sundry goods shop had closed for business. His short stories have been compared to being on par with many prominent writers. Personally, I believe that he comes closest to a comparison with RK Narayan, who like Mauzo wrote in simple language about the common people of their local environment. Mauzo’s novel characters were conscious about ordinary Goans and the troubles and hardships which they encountered. As a writer he stood firm about not compromising on his secular values. There is a sense of humor in his writing. One of his most interesting stories is called the “The Chastity Belt.” It focuses on the concern of a Catholic “shipee” who married a very beautiful girl. The new groom worried that during his ten-month absence at sea his wife may be tempted to seek other company in bed. Mauzo has a simple solution. He suggested to his shipee friend that every time he comes back from a voyage he should get his wife pregnant. This would prevent her from straying.
Over the years Mauzo’s writing has become bolder and more political in the larger sense of the word. Mauzo’s confidence got a boost when he was awarded the Sahitya Kala Academy award. Undoubtedly, it is a Xavier Cotta who translated most of Mauzo’s book from the original Konkani and made his writings accessible to readers in English in the country and abroad. A usual problem with Konkani writing is that it has a limited readership, as the total Konkani speaking and reading population does not exceed 25 lakh by one estimate. Indeed, the Sahitya Kala Academy has insisted that Konkani books should be translated into English to be considered for its awards.
And in the last 30 years I have seen a transformation in the meek and mild and diffident personality of Damodar Mauzo. The Jnanpith Award citation projects him as a rebel writer. Mauzo is amongst the writers of Goa who has been threatened by Hindu right-wing organizations. It is heartening to see the Goa government giving him police protection. A significant aspect of the recent the recent function was that no politicians including the chief minister were invited. The presentation was done by eminent Hindi poet and writer Gulzar. Mauzo insisted that the function was open to the public and even though it is held in the Raj Bhavan those who wanted to attempt were permitted without any security check. Felicidade commemorates Damodar Mauzo on the richly deserve Jnanipith award which apart from the trophy carries the cash prize of Rs11 lakhs.
AND a few stray thoughts on when the miserable state of education in Gujarat. While many states including those in the northeast boast of 90-100% past percentage in the 10th and the 12th standards, Gujarat is an exception. In as many 150 schools in Gujarat, all the students failed to pass the SSC and HSSC exam. Either the education authorities in Gujarat are very honest or the state of education is pathetic. Maybe the students are distracted by being forced to listen maan ki baat. There is of course another state in which students failed to pass their SSC and HSSC exams. But this is the rare case where 100% of the students in 150 schools fail to pass the exam. I am talking about SSC exam the student and parents depending on their economic status have multiple choices. Besides the government-organized HSSC exam, there are exams organized by the central government through the Kendriya Vidhaliyas. Those who are snobs can opt for private unaided education institutions which claim affiliation to Cambridge. Private corporate schools have mushroomed in Goa with Sunshine school and the Zee schools which offer luxurious facilities. Mohan Gera has been advertising his international school in the Kadamba Pleatue but finds it difficult to set it up and manage it. The school has now handed over to the Sharda Mandir for management.
AND a few stray thoughts on when a 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death in an open space in Delhi by her jilted lover. We thought that murders in public of young people have stopped with Nirbhaya. Apparently not because in broad daylight a 16-year-old was stabbed over 15 times. The 20-year-old boy who claimed that he had a relationship with her smashed her head with a stone. The provocation for the attack was apparently the girl breaking off relations with him. Young people are very obsessive about their relationships with their girlfriends. They are looking for slaves and not for companions. Unfortunately a lot of young women who are lonely and do not have support at home fall for this possessive young man. The situation is compounded by the dozens of dating sites. This facilitate meeting between two shy people who cannot find a relationship among their friends. This results in a blind date where you do not know the character or the background of the person you are dating. In any case, a large number of these teen affairs particularly in the lower middle class are nataks. The girl pretends to be the daughter of a rich builder actually her father is the driver. The boy of course claims he is very rich. If you go by the videos on Youtube and Facebook it would look as though the ultimate symbol of true love is for the boy to present the girl with the iPhone which cost around Rs1.5 lakh.
AND a few stray thoughts on when even automobile dealers were refusing to accept the Rs2,000 note. In the beginning jewellers and petrol pumps were readily accepting Rs2,000 notes. The big restaurants and night club including those in Goa are inviting people to bring their Rs2000 notes instead of standing in long queues to exchange their Rs2000 notes. There are no long queues in the bank though the reserve bank claims that over 300 thousand crores of Rs2000 notes have been returned to banks. Banks are still reluctant to exchange Rs2000 notes without any proof of identity. Individuals are reluctant to go to banks because they do not want to disclose their identity. A lot of the Rs2000 note have been received as bribes by politicians and their party workers. It would appear that cancellation of Rs2000 note is primarily an attempt at targeting black money. Meanwhile the Prime mInister Narendra Modi has announced the introduction of a 75 paise coin to commemorate Independence Day. It is a cheap gesture as surely as 75 years of independence is worth more the 75 paise. The only consolation is that 50% of the 75 paise coins will be of silver.
AND a last stray thought on when Goa successfully harvested the organs of a brain-dead young 19-year-old boy who died in an accident. The kidney of the young boy gave a fresh lease of life to Goans who were waiting for a kidney transplant. There are many patients on the waiting list for kidney transplants in Goa. The rules are very strict that kidneys can be transplanted only from brain-dead people or from donors who are close relatives. The heart and the liver of the 19-year-old were sent outside the state. Transport of organs is a very delegated affair they have to be packed in refrigerated boxes and reach to the needy person within a fixed time. Dr Tiwari who is the head of the department of Nephrology has been the pioneer in kidney transplants. Teaming up with urologist Dr Madhumohan of Healthway, Dr Tripathi has conducted more than a 100 transplant. DR Tripathi has now been directed by the health minister to undertake liver transplant also in the GMC. The GMC also offers facilities for Dialasys. The kidneys are the washing machines of the body. They clean the dirty blood and pump fresh blood. You can live with one kidney and donate your healthy kidney to the close family member like you mother father or sister and live a trouble free life. The kidney transplant is a very dramatic procedure. In two separate beds the donor of the kidney and the person who is to receive them are admitted in adjoining rooms. The procedure is conducted symontenously where kidney is removed from the donor and transplanted into the person who requires the kidney transplant.

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