THE BHATIKARS ARE FIRST COUPLE OF KONKANI!

A KONKANI LITERARY EVENING…at the Hotel Delmon hall on the sixth floor on January 15, 2024. Aravind Bhatikar and Lata Bhatikar book releases…Fomento chairperson Auduth Timblo did the honours and on the dais are Aravind and Snehalata Bhatikar, guest of honour Odiya writer Gayatri Saraf, Devidas Kadam, Uday Bhembre, Anju Sakardande, Urjita Bhobe, Dinesh Mankekar and other Konkani mogi.

THE world of Konkani literature is becoming exciting and Snehalata and Aravind Bhatikar are an amazing couple who manage to pack quite a bit of work writing in Konkani, that is if Snehalata or Lata is not translating short stories from the Indian regional languages into Konkani. The translation of short stories is catching fire amongst readers and writers in Konkani, namely translating from the original Indian languages into Konakani and why not!
That’s one way to become sensitive to one’s own mother literature and perhaps understand better our mythological history which has stayed alive over hundreds of years. This is to say after a long time I found myself attending a Konkani mogi literary evening on January 15, 2024 which was to present the new books of Aravind and Lata Bhatikar. Aravind bab told me over the phone to come at 5 pm if I wanted tea (which came with some delectable snacks of veggie cutlets and the season’s gajar halva), or half-an-hour later if I wanted to just attend the release function and listen to the speeches!
It was a rather charming evening renewing hellos with familiar and less familiar stalwarts of the Konkani literature movement in Goa, most from down south Goa. From the sound of it the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns gave quite a fillip to many down south Goa taking to writing it all down, fiction or non-fiction or translating from other Indian writing.
Aravind already has several books to his credit, his new book “Sangharsh” (Konkani) adds to his other books “Vovalam” and “The Rudderless Democracy” (English) which are well reviewed). The new release is “Lokshay Hai Hai” (a collection of essays on politics and governance) and was released by Fomento chairperson Auduth Timblo and was he who described the Bhatikars as the “first couple of Konkani storytelling.” Aravind, he said, is “85 years young and he is growing, growing, it is the growth of the mind!” He is both social writer, journalist and activist…on the subject of governance or “rajkaran” Timblo opined that the “king has changed but the thinking has not!”
LATA decided to be adventurous and translated some of Sahitya Akademi winner Oriya writer Gayatri Saraf stories into Konkani. It was challenging because she thinks nobody has yet translated anything from Oriya or Odiya to Konkani; Saraf’s “Burning Mountains” is made up of 14 stories and has been translated into English. She is indeed a very well read writer in her native Orissa.
The books release function took place at the Hotel Delmon’s rather spacious hall on the sixth floor in Panaji and present amongst the distinguished audience were several eminent Konkani writers from Uday Bhembre with his very gracious wife Lakshmi, Uday bab’s new book “Vhadlem Ghar” in English, Kannada and Telugu was out recently), there was also Dr Kiran Budkuley, Damodar Mauzo with wife Shaila, Nutan and Arun Sakardande, Mahabaleshwar Sail, Vijaya Sheldekar, Devidas Kadam, former RSS chief Subhash Velingkar with wife Mina. And there were Dr Pradeep Borkar and Dinesh Manerkar of Sanjana Publications and some more.
From what I know Lata has always said Goans must change their self-centered attitude! And Aravind bab we know is Goa’s first IAS officer, of the Tamil Nadu cadres, he has seen life in Tamilnadu and elsewhere in the country on postings and back in Goa he was chairperson of the Mormugoa Port Trust for ten years; he is afflicted with vision degeneration but is ever a gallant spokesperson for the right causes of Goa.
Both he and feisty wife Lata (a trained counsellor) have been active players in the Konkani movement in Goa. His book “Karmanne… Kaal, Aaj, Falyan” (2011) is about his life as a IAS officer of Goan origin and “A Rudderless Democracy”(in English) is on mining issue and the Shah Commission Report). Ask Lata and she will say she doubles, trebles as wife, secretary, adviser, trouble-shooter and some more. A more devoted couple would be hard to find if one may say so and we hear he shifted base to Goa only to help Lata resolve some of her legal cases to do with family discrimination (must ask her about this some time!).
Guest of honor for the evening was none other than Gayatri Saraf, the eminent Oriya writer herself. She spoke little but it was with heartfelt gratitude that she accepted that her writing is now worthy of being translated in Konkani, Goa’s language. Lata said she had thoroughly enjoyed reading Gayatari Saraf in English translation (from the original Odiya), and decided to translate her short stories into Konkani for Konkani readers. Saraf has some powerful short stories to tell and we must remember that, “Women are a powerful section of society and society must realize it.”
All this and much more. Uday Bhembre in his long analytic talk expressed his disillusionment by the manner in which as Goa’s mother language is being neglected in governance. I’m afraid my Konkani is terribly rudimentary and much of what Uday bab said went over my head, forgive me! But I have listened often enough to Marathi in Mumbai and enough Konkani in Goa to feel that from the sound of it Konkani is more eloquent, more romantic…just listen to poet Manoharrai Sardessai’s poem “Bebeanchem Kazar” and you will realize this! It’s a most splendid poem and every Goan kid should read it! Nothing makes the monsoon rain come alive as much as this poem, for me at least it makes Goa come alive.
ON that note here’s a toast in solkodi to more translations from the Indian languages into Konkani! It’s avjo, selamat datang, poite verem, au revoir, arrivedecci, hasta la vista and vachun yeta here for now!

—Mme Butterfly

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