The Goan literary tradition – what does the future hold? (by Selma Carvalho)


[BY SELMA CARVALHO] Reading the E-Seniors notebook, I am struck by how strong the literary tradition is, in Goa. The beautiful narratives transport us to a time most of us are unaware of and would be lost forever but for the eloquent words of these men and women.

It is amazing how a small state in India managed to produce so many great writers spanning four languages. The feat is akin to that of Ireland. It is said that the lush Irish green, its wet weather and a hoary Celtic imagination often fueled by myriad spirits is what brings out the writer and poet in the Irish.

Certainly we share the green, the wet and the spirit in its many forms, with the Irish. There is a wandering minstrel and poet in every Goan soul and it
stirs to life with pen and paper.

Much of Goa’s unpublished talent that came of age as the colonial era snaked to an end, doubtless received little encouragement to follow a life in the arts. Nevertheless the wandering mistral persevered amidst this reluctance. Some became professors at universities and took to writing only part-time.

The generations that followed fared much worse. The choice after secondary schooling was narrowed down to three streams of education, science, commerce or arts, of which arts was definitely looked upon with much disdain. Perhaps the quantum of those that followed their literary ambitions had diminished but certainly not the zeal and the talent, which is evident in the prolific writers of Goa today.

What does the future hold for the Goan literary tradition? It is for the literary luminaries of today to pave the way, to battle outmoded ideas that exist
surrounding a life involved in the arts and create opportunities for young writers to put their best pens forward. A society bankrupt of its artistic heritage and future is a society bereft of imagination, values, foresight and ultimately its soul.

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