Over four decades after his death, Lucio Rodrigues is remembered by those who knew him back in the early 1970s in Goa.
Nandini Cardoso commented in cyberspace: “I have read Prof Lucio Rodrigues’s book of Soil and Soul and Konkani folk tales as a child. and after that I have not seen this book in print again.”
One could still find some in their sixties saying that Prof Lucio was their professor at the Dhempe College. More often than not, they also point to some toppers from their class, who went on to prominently wield the English language in those times when Goa was just transitioning from its earlier avatar as a centuries-old Portuguese colony.
Canada-based Tony Fernandes narrates how after his SSC exam results he met up with the “remarkable, impressive and extraordinary personality” some five decades ago. Prof. Lucio was then a lecturer at Elphinstone College.
“I went to see him during my holidays to Goa. His study and library was massive. He was constantly busy with Konkani folklore music and literary research, and literally surrounded by books and literature of all kinds,” Fernandes recalls.
US-based writer Victor Rangel-Ribeiro mentions that Lucio was several years older than him. Lucio belonged to a literary circle that included Rangel-Ribeiro’s brother Oscar, his sister Lyra, the poet George Coelho, another poet nicknamed ‘Castelo Branco’ after a Portuguese writer of the same name, and the writer Joao da Veiga Coutinho.
Rangel-Ribeiro commented: “Together they dreamed up a literary magazine called Furrows, which was typed and then mimeographed with Oscar’s illustrations. I have a copy with me, perhaps the only surviving one. Lucio and George have passed on; all the others are in their late nineties.”
Littérateur Dr Maria Aurora Couto, whose book has been short-listed for this year’s Crosswords awards, speaks of her “admiration for Prof Rodrigues, as we called him, as a 14 year old school girl.”
She added: “I have also quoted Lucio at length in my last book published last year. I have known him closely — sung as a school girl in Madrigal Singers, which he directed, and then been his colleague at Dhempe College.”
Says his neice, Esme Abedin: “Uncle Lucio was a dynamic, charismatic and much loved teacher, writer and musician. To me, as a child, he was just very entertaining and would spend hours telling me some of the folktales. (Reading his work brought back) indelible memories of my Uncle.”
Prof Lucio was himself a man of many roles.
A professor of English in quite a few prestigious colleges (Ruia’s in Matunga, Siddharth College and Sophia’s in Bombay, the Karnatak College in Dharwar, and Elphinstone also in Bombay), he was Head at the Department of English Literature at Dhempe College, Panjim, at the time of his death in 1973.
He started The Skyline as a medium for young writers to express their creative energies and literary abilities. Lucio also contributed to The Goan Tribune, The Navhind Times, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Goa Today. Besides, he also featured on All India Radio and Radio Goa with his talks in English and Konkani.
Lucio Rodrigues played a notable role in the Goa freedom struggle and was passionately interested in Goan folklore and folksong. His book, published posthumously, was called Soil and soul and Konkani folk tales.
On his 100th birth anniversary, the Xavier Centre of Historical Research will hold a special meeting to pay tribute to this prominent Goan, on April 15, 2015 at 5.30 pm. Members of the public are welcome.