Centenarians are hard to come by and many get known when they hit that triple figure. Lambert Mascarenhas’ fame lies not in living to celebrate 100 birthdays, but in his achievements during those 100 years
PANJIM: ‘Sublime’ is how American Scholar described Sorrowing Lies My Land, by Lambert Mascarenhas. Illustrated Weekly said the book was ‘an extremely readable tale of Goa’, while Free Press Bulletin said it told ‘the truth about Goa’. It is 60 years since Sorrowing Lies My Land was first published, its author is now 100 years old and he has just been selected for the Padma Shri for literature.
When the family received the call Sunday from the Chief Secretary regarding the award, Mascarenhas’ response was a simple, “I’m honoured”. After that came the conversation of whether the centenarian would be willing to travel to New Delhi to receive the award, to which he said “I’ll see.”
“He thinks he can do it,” his wife Dr Jolly told Herald. Those who know Mascarenhas, are quite certain that he will go to New Delhi to accept the Padma Shri, for whatever he has set forth to do he had done.
To many people Mascarenhas is many things. A journalist first and always, that is how he is known as in Goa and Mumbai and across the Goan diaspora. And it was for his dispatches as a journalist that he was arrested by the Portuguese in Goa in 1949.
Back in Bombay, and having been witness of the situation in Goa and its victim, he wrote Sorrowing Lies My Land, which received rave reviews. He had earlier written the book The First City. Besides a collection of short stories he also has a play The Greater Tragedy. In 1998, at the age of 93, Mascarenhas published Heartbreak Passage, a novel set in British India.
Long years ago, Mascarenhas in his acclaimed book wrote, “The sight of European and Negro troops parading the streets in battle dress frightened our people indeed, and made them lose heart. Thus, helpless and sorrowing, lay my land.”
He returned to Goa after Liberation, not alone, but bringing with him his new spouse. Mascarenhas had vowed not to marry until Goa was free. He kept the vow and days after Liberation he tied the knot with Dr Jolly, who he had met during his activities in the Liberation movement in Bombay.
In the land that was sorrowing no longer, Mascarenhas made his home once again, as a journalist, husband, father, grandfather, friend and mentor.