It was Filomena Rodrigues who broke the news at the Panjim fish market. She ran into her neighbor Maravilha da Gama, who was haggling over the price of a glassy-eyed mullet with a large fisherwoman bedecked in gold necklaces which rested in serpentine spirals on her hillocky bosom. “Did you know,” Filomena said in a breathless undertone, stuffing silver-black mackerels into a plastic bag, “Lancelot Gomes has married again?”
Maravilha almost dropped the mullet, and gasped, “What? Again?”
“You just won’t believe,” hissed Filomena, eyes coruscating like a cat’s. “It’s his own secretary this time and she’s only twenty-two. And he must be at least fifty plus! And just you guess what, and this will shock you, ooo, she’s a ’indu!”
Maravilha pressed her crucifix into her chest involuntarily. “Oh Lord,” she exclaimed. “A twenty-two-year-old ’indu girl? What is the world coming to? And to that senile old rake?”
After some more haggling by Maravilha, the two parted company, promising to “put their heads together” over the “scandalous business” later at home in Merces.
Maravilha posted a chain-letter and crossed herself at a wayside shrine as she trudged towards the bus-stand.
“What is the world coming to?” she repeated to her husband Mussolini da Gama that same afternoon. “This must be his third or fourth marriage and the girl is only twenty-one! And he must be at least fifty-five, the scoundrel!”
Mussolini, a tall, mongoose-faced schoolteacher, said, “It’s shameful. Shameful! We must do something. Morals have gone down the drain these days. This is bad for the children.”
“But what can we do?” said Maravilha, dropping a block of dried pig’s blood into the sorpotel simmering in a clay pot. “Everyone is so loose nowadays. Too many dances and carnivals! And see what shameful things they are showing on the TV these days. It is corrupting our youth!”
Montgomery, the youngest of her eight children, heard the entire conversation.
That evening, he met his friend Auduth Camotim at the “Tulxidas” taverna. After three stiff pegs, he said, “You know something, Camot—the old fellow who lives in the old bungalow near the church? He got married again, to a twenty-year-old dame, a Hindu chick.”
“Lucky bugger, that Lancelot Gomes. His first conquest was a Muslim broad, Ghulam Xec’s daughter, I think, from Vasco.”
“Yah, man,” Montgomery said expansively. “Whadda heck—variety is the spice of life. But why you not geddin’ married, man? Already you’re geddin’ grey hair.”
“What to do, Monty. Apply, apply, but no reply,” said Camotim, mournfully sipping his fourth Old Monk.
The following day Camotim met his bank office colleague Naguesh Vencatexa Naique at a football match between Pele’s XI and Eusebio’s XI at a shorn paddy field in Caranzalem. At the half-time break, in between gulps of canned beer, Camotim said, “Arre Naguesh, you know that old bugger Lancy Gomes?”
“The one who lives in the new bungalow near the post-office?”
“Correct, correct. He has tied the wedding knot yet again. For the third time. A Hindu dame this time, only nineteen years old, I have heard. The ceremony was top secret.”
“Third time? What stamina, man. More than even Eusebio’s center forward.”
“More than even Maradona. He must be sixty years old, a real budda.”
“What stamina he must be having,” Naguesh told his girlfriend Teresa, at a secret tryst with her at a hill-top cross in Dona Paula. “Must be like a marathon runner.”
Teresa, plump and giggly, said, “I saw his first wife once. Very fair she was. A Parsee, I think, from Bombay. I think he is doing some real estate business.”
“No, no. Not real estate. He is a printer, I think, printing visiting and greeting cards. I think his first wife was a Muslim from Vasco. Some Muslims are very fair. But what stamina!”
“Definitely not Muslim. Her name was Nilofer, I think. But I’ll ask my friend Belvinda tomorrow. She used to work for this Gomes. Made advances to her also, I think.”
“Three dames—bloody hat-trick.”
“You’re jealous or what! Don’t try any hattrick-fattrick with me!”
The following afternoon Teresa went with Belvinda to see a Hindi movie at the El Dorado theatre. After the movie, her eyes still puffed from the tear-jerker, Teresa said, “Nice movie, no. Life also is like a movie only. Do you remember your former boss, Lancelot Gomes? You know, you know, he got married again!”
“O gosh!” said Belvinda, “The creep! He must be at least sixty-two years old.”
“And you know, you know the girl is only eighteen and that too a Hindu!”
“What a scandal! His first wife was an Anglo, I think. Nellie something. From Bangalore.”
“You knew her, no?”
“Lid’lbit. But just last week I saw this girl in his car. She was wearing a red salwar khameez and I was wondering and wondering who she was. I thought she was his daughter.”
“She is good looking?”
“OK. Fair she is. Fast she must be to marry a zantto. I’ll phone up Maria tomorrow. She’s working in his office only.”
“But he’s filthy rich, no?”
“Pots and pots he has, men.” The next day, during a long and leisurely lunch break, Belvinda called up Maria.
“Hello, Maria,” she said. “You must be knowing why I’m phoning.”
“Oh, so you have heard the news? So fast it is spreading,” said Maria, interrupted from her pork chops.
“You can talk?”
“Yah men. Only Joe is here.”
“Joe men. The peon.”
“Oh. What about Lancy’s latest catch? Give us the juicy news. You know her?”
“Lid’lbit only. She worked in the other office mostly, in Margao. Quiet she is, like a mouse.”
“Mouse? Must be a big gold-digger. She is only eighteen?”
“Can’t say, Bel. Must be more.”
“Must be twenty-two, twenty-three. Rogue he is.”
“Yah. Just yesterday I saw her in his car. She was wearing a blue salwar khameez and I was wondering and wondering who she was. I thought she was his daughter.”
“She is Hindu, no? His PA?”
“I tinksomen. But sometimes she is wearing jeans and T-shirt.”
“Modern she is. So what. These days many Hindus are wearing hotpants. What’s her name?”
“Tahira Zahira something. Nice name.”
“Muslim name, no?”
“Yes men. But she’s Hindu. Dessai something.”
“This is third or fourth?”
“Fourth, I think.”
“Fourth! Horse he must be, no Maria?”
“Rabbit he is. Five six kids he must be having.”
“Must be more. Hockey team I think. What you eating for lunch?”
“You’ll get fat like me, men. I’m having small rice curry.”
“Coming to ‘Rock Round the Clock’?”
“Yah. With Subodh.”
“Why men? You know how people will gossip. Mad you are, Bel.”
“He’s ’indu, but nice. Good business also he has. So many people are marrying like that. Lancy also. She’s his PA?”
“Never. Who told to you? She’s doing some computers.”
“Where they are living now? Same bungalow where a lot of foreign people are staying? I can hear them talking every time.”
“No foreign people are there, Bel. You mus’ be hearing BCC TNT TV or something.”
“You can hear somebody breathing, Maria?”
“Somebody is breathing. Cross-connection I think.”
“OK. I’m putting the phone down.”
In Anjuna, Bismarck Monteiro, who had overhead the entire conversation, put down the receiver. He turned to his wife, Angela, and said, “I overheard a funny conversation.”
“Why do you listen to other people’s chatter?” said Angela. “As it is you’re already a little deaf.”
“I could not help it. It was a cross-connection. But just listen to what I heard. You remember Lancy Goes? The hotel owner?”
“Yes, yes. He made lots of money in Kuwait.”
“He got married again. For the fourth time.”
“What? I don’t believe you!”
“Believe you me, I heard it almost from the horse’s mouth. And this time he’s married a Hindu, only eighteen years old.”
“Only eighteen? But he must be sixty-five! He was in the Lyceum with my brother. What the menfolk are up to these days! It is all because of TV!”
“His first wife was Anjali Vaz, from Canada, I think.”
“No, no, not Canada—Australia. What happened to their daughter Monica?”
“She went to Bahrain. I heard she got divorced and lives with a married man in Bombay.”
“Shee. What people do these days! Broken families mean only disasters. All morals have been lost! Do you remember Father Hubert of Cansaulim? He left the priesthood and married a barmaid in Portugal. A sixty-year-old baldy marrying someone fit to be his grand-daughter! Shee. All morals have been lost!”
Maybe morals, Bismarck thought, but not Lancy’s libido. What a horny bugger he must be. He looked at his thin, angular wife who had reluctantly borne two children, sighed, and put on the TV to watch The Bold and the Beautiful, his favorite addiction.
The next morning, alone at home, Angela wrote a letter to her best friend, Fatima Vaz in Loutulim:
Thank you for the sausages you sent with Brother Theo. Fat and juicy they were, I always tell Bismarck that you make the best sausages in Goa. I have said a hundred times, why you don’t start your own small side-business? Make also some balchao and misquit and you can start Fatima Foods. All rubbish they sell in the cold storage. Look how Oslinda Botelho from Aldona has prospered. Her stuff, pickles and everything is selling like hot cakes. God has been kind to us—we do not need small business. But you have to think of your children and their needs are always growing and growing. What will you do after Alfred retires? He is a good human, but good people don’t prosper. What promotion they have given him in that deluxe hotel even after so many years of honest service? You only tell me.
As I have said before, nothing ventured, nothing gained. There’s corruption and corruption everywhere. All the ministers and leaders are making money. Lakhs and lakhs they are making from bribes from big builders and the mining people who have already destroyed Goa and destroying it even more while the government is turning a blind eye. Why? Because even the government, including the chief minister, is in their pockets.
My son Patrick has started a real-estate business. He’s doing very well now and knows all the tricks of the trade. What to say, money makes the world go round.
But look at the spiritual corruption. Morals have gone to the dogs. Just yesterday Bismarck was telling me of Lancelot Goes, the multi-rich departmental shop-owner. You may not know him, but the scoundrel has married for the fourth time! All hush, hush, and to boot a young Hindu girl! A chit of a girl and some are even whispering she’s a minor. A sixty-eight-year-old baldy marrying a minor—but you know how people in Goa gossip. Nothing to do, so they gossip and gossip. Bismarck was sounding envious when he was telling me. Men are like that—marrying four wives, like Mohammedans. How is your Alfredo? And the little ones Zelia and Zelima—what pretty pretty names! I hope you will all come for my birthday next month (September 10). Even if it rains, you all must come. Lots of people are coming from Cansaulim. I will write to you if I need some nice patties and samosas from Margao. I will send a message with Brother Theo, what a humble gem of a man.
Bismarck sends his love.
P.S. You left your red umbrella in my house. It is safe and sound with me.
Fatima was a pious woman, the mother of eight children. The church bell sounded the angelus as she read through Angela Monteiro’s letter. Her eyebrows shot up in lopsided tweezered parentheses as she thought: “Who she think she is, criticizing my Alfredo? Just because she is rich, she thinks she can say anything! Does she know what people in Cansaulim are saying about that corrupt sarpanch Bismarck? But the Lord will show him no Mercy.”
After Mass the next morning, she wrote in an aerogramme to her sister Matilda in Safat, Kuwait:
I hope you are in the pink of health. We are as well as can be. My youngest, Mathew, had fever few days ago. Now he is better. Dr. Lotlikar was very nice, though he is Hindu. Mark and John are doing well in college. Mark is serious and not chasing the village girls, and wasting money on dances. Luke is in Bombay to do paper work to come to Kuwait. God bless you and Wilfredo for taking him there. He is sincere and honest like his father. My back is hurting from all the housework, which is even more now as both Martha and Mary are working in the office in Margao.
Few days back our neighbor Hector organized the village dance. (So noisy it was, whole night I could not sleep a wink.) But he suffered a big loss because Clemox Mendes, the big pop singer, charged Rs 80,000 for one hour of his nonsense din. He is singing holier-than-thou rubbish about drugs and corruption, but making pots and pots of money on TV and other shows. Even for close friends like Hector he is not giving any discount. He’s so Holier-than-Thou that now they’re calling him the “Pope” star! Part of the funds was for the orphanage also. Still this cheap monkey did not cut his price! What to say, this is how the world goes round. And do you know that big Bombay man Max Camoes who is writing all goody goody things about Goa in the papers and all? Alfredo confided in me that he owns twenty—20!—taxis in the super deluxe hotel in false names. I have warned Mary and Martha there are wolves and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Royal hypocrites people are.
Angela wrote to me yesterday. Foolish she is, with a wagging tongue, even insulting my poor Alfredo. She thinks I have all the time in the world to start a business of pickle and prawn balchao! Can you imagine? But you know how she is throwing her weight since she moved into the new big house built on the foundation of cheated villagers. You know what I am talking about. She wrote also of Lancy Goes who I think owns a fishing trawler. You may not be knowing of him, but he has married again for the umpteenth time to a Hindu girl! Some are saying she is a minor and police may take action! What a scandal!
All morals have gone to the pits in Goa. Do you remember your college classmate Monica? She was in Bahrain and now she is living in sin with a married man in Bombay. I heard her first marriage is not yet annulled. Even the priests are affected. It was so sad to hear about Fr Ignatius who was defrocked. I only blame that evil woman Gracinda, who led him away from his rightful path. What to say, even the Church is falling prey to scandal. That is one good priest less in Goa.
How is your Wilfredo? And the little one, Ralvin—what a nice name! I hope Milagrinha is looking after him—servants are so costly even here now. Now they make demands for Christmas presents even. We had a small birthday party for Mathew. Martha put an advertisement in the paper, “U R 2 Today” with his photograph. So cute it was. So chubby chubby he is.
Convey my love to Willy and smacking kisses to Ralvin.
Your loving sister,
P.S. Do you remember Gwendolina, Dr. Azavedo’s youngest? She got married in the village church to that nice man from Mazagaon, Seby Pinto. They put a cute ad in the paper—“U 2 R 1.” Sweet, no?
Matilda Costa, tired, overworked, and irritable after extricating herself from the usual passes made at her by her Arab boss, saw Fatima’s letter and sighed. “Another gloom and doom message from Goa,” she thought. She had a bath and put on the video player to watch a Hindi movie. After a microwave supper with her husband and son, just before retiring to bed, she read Fatima’s letter.
The next afternoon, a Friday, she wrote in her schoolgirlish handwriting a letter to her friend in Bombay:
How are you? I am well and happy here. It’s so hot here but we have AC, even in the car. I saw Madhuri yesterday—so groovy she is in Hum Apke Hai Kaun! And fantastic songs! Have you seen it on the big screen in Bombay? We get all the latest videos here.
Fatima wrote to me, as usual full of gloom and doom. Do you remember our classmate Monica Carvalho? Guess what, she’s living with a married man in Bombay. And her divorce is not even finished! Real chalu she has become. Who would have predicted in college—such a bookworm she was! And do you remember that short dark fellow Lancy Goes who was always ogling the girls like a wolf, on the beach? Guess what—he has married for the fourth or fifth time! A young innocent girl, it seems, and a Hindu, your own jaatwallah! Such scandals are happening in Goa! It seems even the police are suspicious because she’s underage, only seventeen, I think. Lancy must be thinking “the more the merrier”!
How is your hubby? And the kids Ashok and Rita? Ralvin is fine, quite a handful he is. Plump and cute he is.
Willy is fine and is slogging his heart out day in and day out.
I will meet you before Christmas this year. Give me more news about Bad Bombay and Bollywood. Have you seen Bombay?
Monisha is really cute, but the songs sound really constipated!
Lots of love,
P.S. We are building a new house in Colva named WILMARAL—for WILfred, MAtilda and RALvin. You remember that politician Eddie Mascarenhas? He also has a new house close to us—EDANFRESH—for EDdie, ANgela, and their kids Frank and Esther. It’s a nice big house, but smaller than our house.
Bharati received Matilda’s letter on her thirtieth birthday. Amidst the noisy celebrations, she read the letter hastily. Balloons popped as the phone rang in her flat in Santacruz. It was her brother Dutta calling from New Jersey, U.S.A. The clamor of cooking and shrieking children almost drowned out his voice.
“Hello, Bharati, happy birthday! So, how are things cooking out there?” he said.
Radiant, Bharati gushed, “Lots of cooking still to be done—everyone’s here! Thanks awfully so much for calling, Dutta. It must be prime time there?”
Dutta laughed. “What’s prime time when I’m calling my little sis on her thirtieth birthday? How’s mum, is she there?”
“No, she’s fine but couldn’t stay. She’s gone back to Mapusa.”
“Oh, what a pity. So what other news back home?”
“Nothing much . . . Oh yes, just today I got a letter from Matilda in Kuwait. You remember her?”
“Remember her? Of course? She was my first date. Bloody nervous I was!”
Bharati laughed. “Yeah, you could never dance! You remember Lancy Goes, the creepy ogler?”
The din around Bharati rose.
“Who?” said Dutta.
“Lancy Goes . . . It’s really noisy here!”
“Oh yah, ‘Pansy’ Goel. I remember him well. Who doesn’t remember him? Settled down in Goa, didn’t he?”
Distracted by the mounting noise around her, Bharati said, “Yeah, well, it seems he’s married again! For the fourth time! To a minor. It seems the police are after him.”
“Jeezuz! What the heck’s going on in good old Goa! I remember the first and second but you don’t know them, Amrita—‘Ambrosia Amrita’ we used to call her—and of course, that Portuguese mix-breed, Carmelina. But who’s the latest?”
The noise rose to a deafening level. The phone crackled, and at that moment Bharati’s five-year-old daughter began to tug at her saree, crying and complaining about her brother, Ashok.
“Rita!” Bharati shouted in exasperation. “Just wait a moment, will you?”
“Rita?” said Dutta. “The same one from Merces? Dr. D’Silva’s daughter?”
Bharati, pacifying her daughter, said, “There’s so much noise here, Dutta! I can hardly hear you.”
“Anyway, let’s not spend dollars on idle gossip. All the best to you and mom and the rest of the gang. ’Bye and keep in touch.” Dutta rang off.
In his twenty-first floor apartment Dutta Virgincar, MD, tall, cadaverous and grey-eyed, son of a pig-iron tycoon, pondered over the news about “Pansy” Goel. “Sonofabitch,” he thought. “Always scoring with the chicks! And a bloody outsider too—all the way from Rourkela or some such one-horse town. The bugger even learned Portuguese.”
The same night, back from the hospital where he worked, Virgincar wrote to his friend Remington Quadros in Mississauga, Canada:
Hi there Remy!
How’s life treating you there, pal? Freezing, I reckon, like me. But I’m putting in solid work and sweating it out for my moolah. And these days I’ve got someone to keep me warm, a nurse, a true-blue Yank from Philadelphia. Cold from the outside but like fire underneath! Not for marriage, of course. These Yanks, if they find someone more loaded, they drop you like a hot brick. Somebody else we both know, though, has entered into “holy” matrimony again. You remember “Pansy” Goel in college? I got the news straight from my sis in Bombay—the gringo’s married again! For the fourth goddamn time! And guess who the prized catch is this time? You just won’t swallow this—remember “Lovely Rita Meter Maid”—of course you do, you were crazy about her. That’s the one he’s caught in his net (bed!) this time. She’s definitely not a minor—that’s what Bharati thinks. Must be around 26, right! We last saw her six years ago, remember, at Viren’s birthday bash in Calangute. Great looker. I hope you’re not broken-hearted pal. (Anyone keeping your bed warm out there?) You’ll always be the Born Bachelor. By the way, I may not be a Bachelor Boy much longer. Mom’s lining up a few girls—all Brahmins of course, though you know I don’t believe in all that caste stuff—for me to check out next year. May be it’s time I settled down in Goa—before one catches AIDS! You should see the Negro patients I have to treat. I’m not a racist, of course, but these guys from the shanties are bloody ungrateful for everything that’s done for them. You should see the gunshot and knife wounds. You’ll flip. You’re lucky, man, with that cosy job in the post-office. Anyway, “Pansy” Goel has thrown egg at our faces. We should have called him “Randy” Goel! But maybe the “pansy” tag got to him and he set out to prove us all wrong? And talk of secularism! And, by the way, wasn’t there something fishy about his divorce from that mestico, Carmelina?
Anyway, bye for now and why don’t you try your luck in the US of A? Think about it.
All the best—
PS. Why don’t you write something about it in SOS. These damned outsiders are taking over both our land and now our gals!
Remington Quadros, editor of the newsletter SOS (Sons of the Soil), cold and lonely in his bleak two-room tenement in Mississauga, fumed as he read Dutta’s letter.
“Fucker thinks I’m lucky!” he raged. “That Bamon Richie Rich, always calling me to the States, but doesn’t lift a finger to help. That son of a Portuguese bootlicker! And wasn’t he crazy about Carmelina—only, his pop intervened and shunted him off to the States. And that fucker Nitin ‘Pansy’ Goel—he hadn’t even divorced his second wife, a minor. And he’s gone on to his fourth! Bastard bigamist! Bloody Indian bigamy laws—with so many problems, what do they care about bigamy? And poor, sweet Rita . . .” His fierce eyes clouded over when he thought about her.
Later that week, he editorialized in the new edition of SOS:
GOA—Going, Going, Gone . . .
It is well-known that the degeneration of Goa has steadily gone downhill—now it is accelerating at breakneck speed, like a tourist Sumo taxi on Anmod Ghat. A jungle of five-star hotels, financed by self-serving Capitalist Outsiders, have mangled Mother Goa’s coastline, making an utter mockery of environmental laws. Politicians from the Left, Right and Center have been bribed left, right and center, leaving the common man high and dry, adrift in the (few remaining) sands of time. Truly the Mammon-hungry builders have left their footprints on the Sands of Time! The lot of the common man has gone from bad to worse to desperate since the “Liberation” of Goa in 1961.
Despite the loudspeaker-type announcements (a la our tiatrist tempos) of liberalization of the economy from the Corridors of Power, rampant unemployment is the order of the day. Even though the powerful builders and hotel industry lobby promises jobs to our youth, it is well-known that only lowly menial jobs such as waiters and bell-boys are given to our youth on a meagre pittance. All the topmost posts are reserved (a la Indian Reservation Policy) for Outsiders. The Powers-that-Be promise the earth to our people and it is the earth that they deliver, viz. dirt, mud, muck and potholes. (And, to boot, Grand Canyon–type ravines in the exploited-to-death mining belts of Bicholim and Pale—which rugged majesty no tourist gets to behold.) But all is not lost, SOS pledges its support to its namesake, namely Sons of the Soil of Goa. We will continue to strive courageously to preserve the Goenkar’s unique Cultural Identity. Victory to our Sons of the Soil! Salt of the Earth!
While drugs are there to stay to corrupt our Youth forever, a new dastardly menace has invaded our pristine shores. It is an unspeakable crime—but speak up we must, or forever bear the burden of guilt.
Yes, it is Child Prostitution, catering to the sick minds of the Wild White West. Along with AIDS, drugs, massage-prostitution, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, this is our latest “Import.” The rot has truly sunk into Goa’s Golden Sands! The authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the physical, and now moral, decay of Goa, the “Rome of the East.” Before the next century heralds in a new age, Goa is doomed to become the “Tomb of the East”!
And now yet another evil, nay, heinous crime against society looms large in “The Paradise That Was Goa”! Reliable sources continue to provide information to SOS on the degeneracy of Goa. It is not just Kashmiri terrorists and smugglers who have found a safe haven in Goa. Now a new species have crept into our beloved land—the Immoral Bigamist!! The law enforcers appear to be least concerned over these tragic crimes. The incompetent police, too busy with taking bribes from foreign tourists for petty traffic offenses, are ignorant of the extent of Bigamy prevalent in Goa!
The tip of the iceberg was detected by an intrepid scribe who reported to SOS that a well-known, unscrupulous businessman, an Outsider who has sucked the blood dry of our Golden Goa for over ten years, has recently lured into his clutches a young innocent RC from Merces. Although he has not freed himself from the bonds of matrimony in his previous marriage to a minor, he has, disregarding all norms of society, shamelessly hitched himself for the fourth time to another “holy” wedlock. Can SOS remain silent over this Unholy Alliance?!
While no one questions this Rabid Romeo’s virility one must question his Rabbit Immorality. SOS is bound hand and foot by the laws of this our adopted land, but yet not to speak out would be the act of a coward! It is the paramount duty of SOS to our brothers and sisters in Golden Goa to expose the Dark Deeds of the Dastardly Bigamist—the Outsider culprit “NPG” and the poor, innocent victim, “RD” of Merces!! May Justice Prevail! “Truth Will OUT!” be Ever Our Motto!
God bless our Beautiful Land! Goa for Goans!!
Dev Borem Korum.
Your ever Vigilant Editor and Keeper of Goa’s Moral Fiber,
REMINGTON BENHUR QUADROS
Quadros published a hundred-odd copies of the four-page newsletter every six months or so (Balance Sheet permitting). Besides the fulminating editorials (under the heading “Bird’s Eye View”), the pages contained news about weddings, births, dances, intervillage football tournaments staged by Goans in the U.K. and Canada, a matrimonial column titled “Cinderella’s Golden Sandal,” and an obituary column. This column, called “R.I.P” with “A Tearful Adieu” in brackets, was the most avidly read. Some copies were sent off as complimentaries to people in Goa, Uganda, the U.S., and the U.K. by Quadros. This particular issue, denouncing the “Dastardly Bigamist,” reached the house of Vincent Braganza in Sutton, Surrey.
Braganza, a retired railway official, had settled in the U.K. in the sixties. After a breakfast of kippers and marmite, he told his English wife, Elizabeth, “This man, Quadros, he seems to be going over the edge. Here, just read this.”
Elizabeth read the editorial and laughed, “It’ll probably cause a storm in Goa!”
“No, I don’t think so. Nobody takes this junk seriously. Jolly bad show though. But I wonder who this NPG with his four wives is?”
“Why don’t you ask Oscar Menezes? He’s from Merces, isn’t he?”
The following Sunday Braganza met Menezes at a GAA (Goa Abroad Association) meeting. The meeting, as usual, had deteriorated into a wordy war between members. They could not decide on the referees for a football match between Anjuna XI and Benaulim Boys. Finally, the members opted for an English referee as he would be “fair and neutral.” The menu for the St. Xavier’s Feast day also provoked much acrimony with one group of women championing sorpotel with pig’s blood and the other believing it tasted just as good and was more “refined” without it. A fiery debate also followed on whether to use “deseeded green chillies” or the “original red hot Salcete variety” for the chicken cafreal. The meeting was adjourned with the decision on the ingredients of the sorpotel and chicken cafreal deferred till the next “Get together on the gala occasion of the Ex-President of GAA Caetano Pimenta and his Ever Loving wife Anastasia’s Golden Jubilee Wedding Anniversary Celebration.” On their way out, Braganza, who had steered clear of the controversy, asked Oscar Menezes about the initials NPG and RD. Menezes thought for a while and said, “Could it be Naresh ‘Pixie’ Ghorpade?”
Braganza said, “That’s impossible. He died six years ago.”
Menezes shrugged, “Can’t think of anyone else. Some playboy he must be! Haven’t been to Goa for a few years now. The divorce rate there will soon match Britain’s. And RD? Could it be Rosy Dourado? Anyway, I have a cousin in Merces. I’ll post this to her. She’s a first-class gossip. She would know for sure.”
Two weeks later the newsletter arrived at Filomena Rodrigues’s old bungalow in Merces. She shivered with pleasure when she read the editorial and the initials of the “culprit” and the “victim.”
It was she, later that evening, who broke the news to her neighbor Maravilha da Gama, at the Panjim fish market. Maravilha was haggling over the price of a glassy-eyed mullet with a large fisherwoman bedecked in gold necklaces which rested in serpentine spirals on her hillocky bosom. “Did you know,” Filomena said in a breathless undertone, stuffing silver-black mackerels into a plastic bag, “Nikhil ‘Pinky’ Gole has married again?”
Maravilha almost dropped the mullet and gasped, “What? Again?”
“You just won’t believe,” hissed Filomena, eyes coruscating like a cat’s. “It’s his own secretary this time and she’s over forty plus! And he must be only twenty-six! And just you guess what, and this will shock you, ooo, she’s a Catholic!”
Maravilha pressed her crucifix into her chest involuntarily. “Oh, Lord,” she exclaimed. “A forty-plus Catholic woman? What is the world coming to? And to that young rake!”
After some more haggling by Maravilha, the two parted company, promising to “put their heads together” over the “scandalous business” later at home in Merces.
Maravilha posted a chain-letter and crossed herself at a wayside shrine as she trudged towards the bus-stand.