In the interests of transparency, I have to disclose that I first met Jose Lourenco, a young civil-engineer and writer from Goa, in the maelstrom of Goan cyber-space and under the darkened cloak of anonymity, we glimpsed into each other’s lives. There, along with Roland Francis and another licentious, liberal who shall go unnamed, we were dubbed an unflattering sobriquet which alluded to our licentious, liberal nature by more conservative forces who hoped to reign us in; but we remained unpurged of our malaise to think freely, to shout freely and to live freely. That was almost twelve years ago, and since then, Jose, Roland and I have made several forays into the world of writing with some success.
So when my copy of Inside/Out, an anthology showcasing the fecundity of Goa’s new writing talent and some older more ripened names, finally arrived at my doorsteps, delivered by an English postman wearing what in my college days were called culottes, I knew immediately I would flee to Jose Lourenco’s offering like a meal-searching mendicant.
“When Somoni Desai,” begins the short story Fever by Jose, “felt that the heat in his lower body was getting too much, he went to Doctor Shivram. The doctor tucked up his puddvem and peered at Somoni’s tongue. He asked him to cough as he studied Somoni’s balls and watched them rise and fall.
Then, he stood him in the sunlight streaming through the window of oyster shells and stared at the floor.
“It’s a fever,” he said. “Your shadow has a fever.”
Not only are the characters, fulsome but Goa itself becomes a character in the story. The mark of good fiction is an underlying cultural truth, a human malady told with the guile of a child.
Jose Lourenco flies like a maddened Icarus, furiously flapping his wax wings with all the hubris of a young literary talent who knows his worth and yet he carries the burden of his potential like a sanyashi with the knowledge that gifts inherited from fickle Gods bear the responsibility of humility.
I hope Jose Lourenco continues to write; I hope stories spill from his pen like so many wild oats and germinate on the white pages of novellas and novels. His is the type of Goan fiction, which will mature like grapes on a languid vine, ripened to perfection by a benevolent sun beaming in exquisite adoration. He reminds me of Nobel prize-winner Garcia Marquez, whose simple stories of pious, Church-going Andalusians and exiled Chilean Presidentes bring to us the Latin world in all its indolent misery and betrayed lusts, with rays of painful hope filtering through here and there. They are stories divinely and deliciously crafted, mad with words so thick and juicy that I could luxuriate in a bathful of them.
An array of books, including Inside/Out will be sold at the Goan Festival London July 2011. To order Inside/Out from Goa, click here:
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fn-goa/5393494538/