Margaret Mascarenhas
Margaret Mascarenhas

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Remembering Margaret

The weekend saw one of Goa’s premiere centres for the Arts, Sunaparanta hold a memorial service for the late author and poet Margaret Mascarenhas, who’d been its founding director.
By Malavika Sangghvi
UPDATED ON JUL 25, 2019 01:07 AM IST

The weekend saw one of Goa’s premiere centres for the Arts, Sunaparanta hold a memorial service for the late author and poet Margaret Mascarenhas, who’d been its founding director, and had passed away recently after an illness. “As founding director of Sunaparanta, Margaret’s vision contributed towards creating the blueprint of the Arts foundation,” said a spokesperson of Sunaparanta, enumerating the far reaching and progressive initiatives she had fostered such as public art, prison art, and imparting multi-disciplinary courses that included painting, performance art and writing/word art to prisoners serving life sentences at the Aguada Central jail. The service was attended by a large number of Goa’s literati and culturati, including Sunaparanta patrons Dipti and Dattaraj V Salgaocar, daughter Isheta Salgaocar, Milana and Fernanda, mother and sister of the late author and close relatives, friends and well-wishers. Salgaocar spoke about the multifaceted and creative person that Mascarenhas, the author of two novels (Skin and The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos) and a book of poems Triage had been; while others like Goa-based writers Maria Aurora Couto and Sudeep Chakravarti recounted her vivid personality and passion for the Arts. A video presentation of Margaret encapsulating her life and work at Sunaparanta was part of the memorial service.

WTSWTM:

What They Say

“I am unfazed by failure”

-Actress Sonakshi Sinha

What They Mean

“I guess because I’ve had practice.”

Tweet Talk

“Time for @narendramodi to offer to mediate between the US and Iran. Reciprocal sovereignty.”

-Tweeted by Madhavan Narayan on this week’s extraordinary turn of events

It Takes A Village

(From left) Mona Ambegaonkar, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Parmesh Shahani and Dolly Thakore.
(From left) Mona Ambegaonkar, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Parmesh Shahani and Dolly Thakore.

For all those who wonder what makes the Parsis such an exceptional community all round, this recent incident could serve as a clue. Thespian and activist Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, who employs her art and her platform to serve the greater good, has often used her Facebook timeline to highlight worthy causes. This week was no different. In a post titled: ‘Attention All Zoroastrians ‘, forwarded from a friend’s timeline, she shed light on the plight of a Parsi gent by the name of Mr Billimoria, who had been living in a home in Andheri, run by a community of dedicated Catholic nuns. “I was surprised to see this old Parsi man who must be in his early 90s. He can barely see and hear from one ear and is on a wheelchair. When I inquired with the sisters about him, they told me that he has no one and survives mostly on jam and bread. I requested them to allow me to talk to him privately so that I can try finding more details about him as he was admitted by some friend and they have no details. I tried speaking to him and with great difficulty I figured out the following details from him...” the post went on to say. What struck us is that the person who’d written the post, also a Parsi, had reached out to members of his community out of a sense of responsibility; even though the nonagenarian was doing well in his present location and the sisters were really taking good care of him, the Good Samaritan had still gone the extra mile to try and solve the mystery of who he was and why he’d landed at the home (not ruling out the possibility that perhaps he’d been tricked or abandoned). No sooner had this message been disseminated when a flood of responses came in, from concerned members of the community, some of them enquiring why the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, which is known to do yeoman service to care for its own, could not look after him. What was even more commendable is that in less than a day, the social media post had helped establish the identity of the gentleman, and the reasons he’d found himself in the home, and Kotwal duly posted this too: “The Zoroastrian gentleman who is in a home is…” her post went on to say, explaining how he had been in the care of an elderly relative, who herself had been in a bad situation, perhaps leading to his being accommodated in his present circumstance. The alacrity with which the community had rallied around the case and the effective use of social media in locating who the elderly gent was, struck us as a lesson in community service, humanity and altruism. Of course, Kotwal had the most practical and humane view of the whole matter. “From what I hear, the nuns are taking very good care of him, and since he is acclimatised and happy, there’s no need to move him to a Parsi-run charity,” she said, when we spoke yesterday, adding, “In fact, we should be taking care of people from all communities in such homes, what does religious or ethnic beliefs have to do with it?”

Indeed.

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