Personal Tributes
to Pascoal

Family Trees

About the Author



Political Agitation

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 livelihood.

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 recalled.

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 friend.

After Liberation

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 Goa.

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.

Local leave

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 Indies.

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 bed....

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