Five decades ago, to be precise exactly 51 years ago a person who visited Panjim recalls how the green fields of Panjim have now transformed into brown fields as development marches on. Even though it is necessary with the growth of population and buildings have to be made for the living but still the sweet memories, which set-in about 51 years ago, cannot be erased. VIKANT SAHAY met with Luiz Guilherme F.S. de Mello from Sao Paulo, Brazil who has deep family roots in Goa, to be transcended to beauty and glory of Goa in yesteryears
Nostalgic Mr Luiz Guilherme F.S. de Mello reminiscences his childhood when he clicked pictures from Altinho and remembers vividly that even though the pictures taken were in black and white, the backdrop was of the “green field” as Goa then was very rich in agriculture.
Despite those 51 years gap, apart from the landscape there is not much change in Altinho felt Mr Luiz de Mello. “The peace and tranquility which is there in Altinho is very similar to those which prevailed in 1967. I took picture from my father’s house in Altinho and I could see many rice fields during those days, now replaced by buildings. Now Panjim is much more a busy city and similar is the case with Benaulim. However, this is a part of the evolution that a city has to go through,” said Mr Luiz de Mello to Herald.
Mr de Mello was on a short visit to Goa to deliver a lecture organized by Goa college of Engineering. “I am here for a special event sponsored by College of Engineering in Goa, but I am also here due to the links that my family has with Goa. My father and his five siblings were born here in Panjim (Villa da Monchi at Altinho which is now a students’ hostel near the Archbishop Church) and my grandfather was born in Benaulim and I met my relatives there. My grandfather, Dr Indalencio Pascoal Froilano de Mello was a doctor and Mayor of Panjim. He not only contributed a lot as a doctor but was also Mayor of Panjim during 1938-45,” said Mr Luiz de Mello to Herald.
Dr Indalencio Pascoal Froilano de Mello was born in Benaulim on May 17, 1887 and passed away at Sau Paulo in Brazil on January 9, 1955. He was a Goan-Portuguese microbiologist, medical scientist, professor, author and an independent MP in the Portuguese Parliament. Dr de Mello's academic career started in 1910 and at the age of 23 he was appointed as a professor at the prestigious Goa Medical College. He worked passionately to eradicate tuberculosis in Goa and malaria from Goa Velha. This helped him establish two important institutions -- the first leprosarium in Asia at Macasẚna in Salcette in 1934, today known as Leprosaria Froilano de Mello and Dispensario Virgem Peregrina at St. Inez, Panjim. He also established the TB sanitarium in Margao in 1928 and opened a ward for those suffering from leprosy in Daman.
In 1926, Dr de Mello with the help of one of his pupils, Dr. Luís Bras de Sa, meticulously mapped the site of Old Goa and recognised more than 4,800 wells in the area which were breeding grounds of anopheles mosquitoes. This led to the filling up of these wells, and in turn, led to the reduction of the mosquito breeding sites. This factor played a significant role in curbing the malaria epidemic in Goa in the 1920s.
Interestingly, apart from his medical career, Dr de Mello also authored a book in 1946 on the Bengali Noble laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore entitled O Cantico da Vida na Poesia Tagoreana which means “The song of life in the poetry of Tagore”.
Dr de Mello was promoted to the post of director of the Goa Medical College's Bacteriological institute, a small shed in Campal which would then serve as the center of his scientific research from 1914–1945.
Dr de Mello’s son Victor de Mello and father of Mr Luiz de Mello played a major role in engineering. “My father Victor de Mello was awarded “Ranking Lecture” at London, which is almost an equivalent to a Nobel prize. When he passed away, the Brazilian and the Portuguese Society created a lecture in his honour and in a similar form the Goa College of Engineering also did the same. Since I work in the same specialization as my father, I was invited here in Goa to deliver a lecture. In fact I am thrilled to be here to honour my father and grandfather in a state and city where they were born. I last visited Goa in 1967 when my father brought the whole family and we stayed in Mandovi Hotel which during our stay became a rendezvous for our relatives and friends from Goa,” added Mr Luiz de Mello.