As delightful reads as all the abovementioned books may be, they all suffer from one primary problem. They are told from the standpoint of the upper-caste Goan Catholic. Even Chakravarti’s story is told from this standpoint, and the biases and blind spots are obvious. If one wants to escape this prism and gain the flavour of a cross-section of Goan life experiences, then the choice would undoubtedly be the two anthologies on Goa, both published by Penguin.
Short Stories from Goa, edited by Manohar Shetty, is the older of the two books and comprises a collection of 27 short stories from a wide gamut of literary Goans. The book’s USP is without doubt the fact that it has brought into English translation stories written in Goa’s many literary languages, besides English— Portuguese, Konkani and Marathi—and has as a result captured the inner rhythms of Goan life, which would perhaps be otherwise impossible. As captured in the blurb of the anthology, Ferry Crossing captures themes that vary from the touching naiveté of first love, a favourite trope of upper-caste writers in Konkani, as in Chandrakant Keni’s “Innocence”; to the humiliation of poverty, brought to the fore in Konkani by writers from Goa’s Bahujan Samaj, in this case represented by Pundalik Naik’s “The Turtle” and “When An Ass Mounts A Cow”; it frames the clash of egos among rural elite in a manner that Gip would have approved of, narrated here by Tivolem’s author Victor Rangel- Ribeiro in “Senhor Eusebio Builds His Dream House”; to a vignette in “Theresa’s Man” by that chronicler of South Goan catholic life, Damodar Mauzo.Reflected In Water