A house that lacked, a mistress and master, its doors and windows once probably shut by the household staff, but today, nothing ever but wind closes it. the floor is littered with rat-poop, glass from broken bottle of vagrant drunks who squatted there. it still tries to maintain its dignity with the roses blooming on the old fashioned rose bushes that have gone wild. Goa is filled with dying houses like this.
Each time as we drive there these houses and I wonder who the owner is, each time I voice it, Mr.D pretends not to hear, but this time round I must have really got on his nerves, he said, ask the rose bush.
When we reached the house of old Victor Tavora, his son was lying listless on the bed. The maid Kounsa lead us into the lounge of the old Portuguese house. The Tavora house was few of the surviving portugese house interestingly it was Navelim, where there were fewer Portuguese family. The Tavora’s still spoke Portuguese, their children schooled partly in Margao, then Dharwad and finally Lisbon.
“He has been like this for the past two years doctor, can you really help?”
“I do not know Mr. Gomes ” I had to answer honestly, ”These work only when the person is ready to let go.”
“Is there no other way?”
“well we could surrogate, but lets see what Valerio has to say, he might also be wanting to come out of this.”
Since I worked with the case of the Masceranhas, lot of old Portuguese families came, with the secrets that they buried in their closets, the stories that were not told, the memories that stayed behind as ghosts slowly asking to be acknowledged. most of these memories were those of sadness, and loneliness. Some wistful yearning for a land that they could never see again. The Portuguese in Goa suddenly had become homeless.
Valerio had been to the warehouse in the town
Fortunately for me Valerio wanted out too. he seemed quite clear that he was holding on because the energy demanded the right release.
“Valero take a deep breathe, and as I count you from five to zero, just keep focusing on your breathe.”
“Five-four-three-two-one, Valero, can you tell me what is it that you see?”
“a huge collage of colours”
“The colour that you wan to reach out is”
“Focus on the colour red, what comes to your mind?”
Yes, a coat that is red and black pants…
Where are you Valerio?
“I am running, ”
“Not from…running to”
“a warehouse, ” and where is the ware house,
“It was, now it is abandoned. ”
Okay, where is this?
Where is Gurpura?
“I do not know the only thing that is coming to me, is Gurupura and this ware house is on the river bank. I had to run to tell the Ballal’s men to hide before Tippu Sultan’s men came”
“Yes, the butcher from Mysore, “ okay tell me what you see next?
“Bittideva Ballala, is waiting at the warehouse, “
Slowly and clearly Valerio narrated the story of Mallanna Ballala, the brother to Bittideva Ballala of Gurupura, the settlement in on the banks of river Gurupura where it meets the Arabian sea. The Tuluvas, Konkana’s, Catholics, Muslims and Hindu’s living quite peacefully, the settlement rather abundant since the people were enterprising, it was a port town and merchants came.
With the merchants came the priests, with their Bible and their school of thought and education which gently merged with the existing culture. The settlement had its trade ties with Mysore and Kodagu. Everything was fine until Haider Ali dethroned the Wodeyars, Haider was fine too, until the ambitious Tippu came along.
Tippu knew the only hurdle to his ambition was the British who backed the Wodeyars. Tippu also need man power and finance for his army. Though Bhatkal was richer, it was predominantly Muslim, he could only tax them but raiding them would antagonize the clergy and the powerful muslim chiefs in his army. So he took the next wealthy port, Mangaluru, or rather Ullala.
Tippu had targeted the Christian community of Mangaluru, calling them English Nazarene, this gave him the backing of the French. Just like he had destroyed the Kodavas, he destroyed the Tuluvas. No historian has bothered to tell their tale or account their horror, simply because it did not fit into the later day rulers agenda.
The warehouse which was visible from the Gurupura towers dungeon, bore witness to the men who died. For a butcher it was a war for survival, it was a war of independence but the invader was different.
With this story being told Mallana passed to the light, and a week later Victor Gomes called to say that there was great improvement in Valerio. The life and memory of Mallana triggered by the abandoned warehouse.
Strange isn’t it the living are haunted by the dead, and the dead are haunted by their own mistakes. If only we could forgive what has been done to us, we can forgive what we’ve done to others, if we could leave our stories behind our being villains or victims, until then we still sit here waiting to be saved.