It was around 1956 that Pascoal took his family home to Goa
on long leave. This time due to the political situation, the journey
took on a slight deviation. The struggle for Goa's freedom from rule
had reached a fever pitch. This agitation was being spearheaded from
Bombay where a vast number of emigrant Goans resided. For almost a
century, Portugal had virtually ignored the flood of Goan emigration
provoked by the lack of facilities to procure a
After India attained independence from the British in 1947,
it was hoped that Portugal would gracefully relinquish her hold on
Indian territory, just as France had done; but on the contrary,
despite appeals Portugal tightened her grip on what she declared
were her overseas provinces. However, due to political diplomacy,
the Indian Government did not fully support the resistance movement.
Hence, Goans in Bombay participated in "satyagiris" or
peaceful protests along the Goa border. When the Portuguese
authorities reacted with force, public opinion was aroused. It began
to draw attention from Goans abroad. But Goans in Kenya, most of
them in the British Administration, were indifferent. To them
discretion seemed the better part of valour.
Shortly after, a
small section of freedom-fighters took drastic action and crossed
into a tiny Portuguese enclave; this led to a fracas at the Hague.
Goans abroad had been alerted and now the whole world was watching.
The Indian Government imposed an economic blockade hoping to thus
compel a change in the status quo.
Meanwhile demands for an end to colonialism the world over
was gaining momentum. In 1955 it found expression in the Afro-Asian
Solidarity movement which tried to break the deadlock in
negotiations. However, matters kept smouldering.
Down memory lane
Hence, in 1957 because the Government of India had sealed
the border, the de Mellos chose to sail via Karachi. From there they
had to take a ship to Goa. But during the short spell they spent in
Karachi they came to know Pascoal's relatives, the Monteiros.
The Monteiro family still lived on Somerset Street - busy and
buzzing with traffic from dusk to dawn! The children all had names
starting with "A": Agnes, Annie, Alvi, Alana, and Anthony!
It was a nostalgic trip for Pascoal, full of past memories.
He reminded his children of how his cousin had been his faithful
guardian during his school days. Pascoal also made it a point to
take his sons to his alma mater, St. Patrick's High School, to
revive his old associations. One of his teachers, named Vaz, spoke
of the prizes and medals Pascoal had received in his time.
Pascoal met his mentors, the Jesuit Fathers - strict
disciplinarians whose training had left an indelible mark on his
character, for which he felt so grateful! "It did not matter if your
clothes were torn, but they had to be clean!" - he
To Goa again
The sea voyage from Karachi to Goa was another new
experience for the de Mello children. As they did not care to drink
water on the ship, quenching their thirst proved expensive as Canada
Dry Ginger Ale was priced even higher than beer. After berthing at
Murmagao harbour, they had to pass through formalities of the
Portuguese Customs before they got home.
Pascoal was determined that the two older boys who, by then,
were in senior classes at school should not miss out academically.
He therefore lost no time and arranged for Paul Lobo, a young man
living at Vagator with his mother, to come almost every after-noon
and coach them in Maths. The mornings were reserved for the curate
Fr. Carvalho's tuition in Latin. By this rigourous time-table the
boys were not only able to catch up with the class on their return,
but even maintained their school grades.
Pascoal indulged himself occasionally, going to Mapuca and
enjoying a good draught of St. Pauli Girl beer at the bar. He was
ever mindful of the sad economic plight of his fellow-countrymen and
used his growing influence to recruit several young applicants for
the British Civil Service in Kenya.
These young men were eternally grateful to him for giving
them a good start in life. One of them was Paul Lobo, the Maths
tutor, who became an intimate part of the family and a most trusted
Tim remembers their next trip to Goa, in 1961, immediately
after the Liberation of Goa. The Indian Government itself refrained
for a long time from taking decisive action on account of its
professed stance on international peaceful co-existence.
Agitation for Goa's freedom reached a stalemate; ultimately
it was the Third National Conference of Afro-Asian Solidarity held
in Bombay early in December 1961 that changed the status quo. It
prepared the ground which finally forced Prime Minister Nehru's
hands and led to military intervention for the liberation of Goa.
Under "Operation Vijaya" a three-pronged attack was
simultaenously launched by the Indian Armed Forces on 18th December
1961. It was a bloodless coup which brought about an immediate and
peaceful surrender. Goa was liberated.
Tim provides some details of that memorable trip to Goa. Joe
was absent as he had just gone to pursue his medical studies to
England. They passed through Bombay, stopping with Pascoal's younger
sister Luizinha and her husband until they could safely proceed to
Arriving just in the wake of Liberation, the de Mellos had
quite a journey. The normal road, rail and sea connections were not
usable as the Portuguese had destroyed bridges and mined the ports
on their withdrawal from Goa. The travellers had to take a steamer
from Bombay to Karwar in the adjacent territory of Karnataka. They
continued the rest of the journey by road. Where bridges were
damaged, they had to physically descend to the river, cross it and
ascend to the road on the other side.
Fortunately there were porters to carry their luggage. Buses
too were waiting for them on the other side. The whole area was
densely forested and it appeared that there had been a skirmish on
the southern border. They noticed abandoned jeeps and tanks.
At one point they saw a heavily bandaged Indian soldier. In
heavy contrast, during the course of their holiday they saw about
200 Sikh soldiers relaxing on the beach at Baga. These "outsiders"
did not seem to quite fit into the Goa scene.
Besides long holidays in distant Goa, the de Mello family
spent very enjoyable short vacations in Kenya itself. Pascoal was
also entitled to annual local leave. Invariably this took them to
the coast for a change from the higher altitude of Nairobi. An
overnight train trip to Mombasa, then onwards by bus to the ancient
seaside town of Malindi. This historic Arab trading post was where
the famous Portuguese naval Commander Vasco da Gama landed in 1498
and left a massive monument by the ocean. It also sports relics of
the presence of St. Francis Xavier's missionary venture to the East
Pascoal was more intent on perfect relaxation. Waking up
early in the morning he went for a long walk along the beach. After
breakfast the family headed for the local market to buy fish and
fruit which were plentiful. To the adolescent boys the sight of
bare-breasted Giriama tribal women, freely walking about without
being ogled by the locals, was most surprising. A quick dip in the
ocean, then a bee-line to the beach cottage was the daily noon
ritual. Iced beer for Pascoal, and "madafu" - Swahili for tender
coconut water- for the lads. This was followed by a hearty lunch, an
afternoon nap, then tea and local Arab "halwa". Another evening
stroll, while dinner was being prepared. After dinner, they sat in
the veranda with friends, joining together in a singsong, and so to