by Ricardo Rodrigues
Mai with my Mom, Aunt and Brother
Before the Liberation somewhere in the year 1955 Custodio Fernandes of Savoi Verem was no more. My Grandmother Joaquina became a widow.
Present among the members of the family was a six month old grandson, me, and it's my pleasure today to remember my grandmother Joaquina whom we all, including myself, know and call "Mai".
Today she is no more with us but no one knows if she is truly gone, or gone to meet others who passed before her. Let me dedicate this poem to describe "Mai" by Henry Van Dyke.
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
Mai, my Grandmother was a loving, affectionate, and a very hardworking woman in the family well known to all of you.
Some of the memories which will be ever cherished are as follows.
1. I was probably 6 or 7 years old when she would send a worker to fetch me from Sonarbag. The way to Savoi Verem had a walking distance of around 10 km, consisting of crossing a river and going through mango groves and paddy fields over the hills to get there. She would ensure that I was carried all the way on the shoulders of the said worker. Some times there would be two of them who would take turns. And after reaching home she would question me and make sure I had no trouble.
2. Another incident was the journey I made with her to the ferry wharf when I was 8 years old and as we sat I became fascinated by the waves created by the propeller of the boat. I remember throwing one of my shoes into the churn and showing my great achievement to my Mai and she just murmured something, laughed a bit and hugged me.
3. I remember having an opportunity of watching a movie at Ponda theatre. Just the two of us.
4.I know Mai as a woman entrepreneur in my teenage days when she would get the work done using the available labor in those times. She had a good sense of management of the household chores including business, by using her Labor Management Skills. Being a single mother she managed the male labor force with ease. She ensured that her children were educated in good schools and employed labor to keep her business and household in tact. She believed in cleanliness and kept no stone unturned to achieve her goals. Her primary Goal was to Give. She was a giver.
5. I remember the hard work and excellence she would put in to earn that extra income just to ensure that she had enough to give it to those ones in need within her family and circle of friends. She was not interested in an expensive sari or luxury. She was a very simple person. She never wanted anybody to pity her being a single mother. In fact she is an idol of women's empowerment. Today all women should understand what it means to empower without taking their husbands into consideration. She never looked back or complained. She was most loving person I have seen.
Today I am happy that Mai will be reborn with new energy.
I take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for coming to pay their last homage to my "MAI".
Thank you and God Bless.