ROMI SOLDIER TURNS 75
By: Walter Menezes
Writer. Editor. Publisher. Doyen of the Konknni Movement.
Prabhakar Tendulkar will be felicitated at a public function organized by Dalgado Konknni Akademi and Omor Prokaxon at GCCI Hall, Panaji today. Kotha-ghons, his collection of short stories in Romi Konknni will also be released.
The young Editor
Prabhakar Tendulkar was born on June 4, seventy five summers ago. By the time he turned twenty, he was already shouldering the challenging responsibility as editor of the Konknni section of A Vanguarda, a popular Portuguese-Konknni weekly.
‘During those days, the Portuguese regime had banned entry of Marathi newspapers from Mumbai. In such a situation, even Hindus took to reading and writing Konknni in the Romi script,’ Tendulkar had reminisced of those days in a foreword to a book. ‘Tea bhair Kristanv bhav Romi Konknni fattlean aslech,’ he had added, speaking of a community which was always solidly behind Konknni in the Romi script.
A Vanguarda folded up three years after the Liberation of Goa but the ten-year stint (1954-1964) as editor of the weekly was long enough for Prabhakar Tendulkar to sketch in which direction his life would flow henceforth.
Dalesh Printers, his Mapusa-based printing-press, became an important hub of the Konknni movement and it was from here that countless writers in the Romi script had their first break and their first book published!
[June 18, 1980 issue of Gõykar]
Gõykar and Konknni Kendr (Goem)
A determined Prabhakar Tendulkar launched Gõykar, a weekly in the Romi script in 1979, to fight for Goa’s twin aspirations: statehood and recognition of Konknni as Goa’s official language. Konknni Kendr (Goem), a literary organization was also established by him in the same year.
In 1980, somewhere in the month of April or May, Agnelo Pires and I were invited by Konknni Kendr to read our literary works. The two of us were then young and ‘budding writers’, expressing our hearts out through kovita and kotha. I remember it was a Sunday and we had left early in the morning from Kepem. Three bus-rides over two major rivers later, we were finally in Mapusa.
My short-story, Omega was well received. It was, in fact, my first story. After the ‘reading session’ was over, Prabhakar Tendulkar came forward and shook my hand. It was a warm and affectionate hand-shake. ‘I liked the story,’ he said. Then, with a smile on his face, he added, ‘Give me the manuscript. I will publish it on Gõykar!’
True to his word, my story was carried in one of the subsequent issues of the weekly.
[Dec 31, 1956 issue of A Vanguarda]
Prabhakar Tendulkar releasing Camilo Menezes’ Noxibant Nirmilelem, a collection of short stories in Romi Konknni on 19.07.2008. Dr. Francisco Colaço and Tereza Travasso, then Chairperson of Quepem Municipal Council are also seen.
The writer ‘within’
While egging on and encouraging young writers like me to sharpen our literary skills, the editor never forgot the ‘writer within him’. Prabhakar Tendulkar wrote many books in Konknni on many a subject, notable among them being Rangmachi, Gulab, Tin Tiatr, Sat Prosn, Oso ho Sonvsar and Jinneche Rong.
Recipient of a number of awards and recognitions from Akhil Bharoti Konknni Lekhok Som'melon, Akhil Gomantak Nabhik Samaj, Lions Club of Mapusa City, Mapusa’s Sarvojanik Ganesh Mohatsav Mandal and Konknni Bhasha Mandal, Prabhakar Tendulkar also received the prestigious Pri. Antonio Pereira Puroskar instituted by Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr, Porvorim.
A year ago, when I had met Prabhakar Tendulkar at Dalesh Printers in connection with my late brother’s book of short-stories which had earlier appeared on A Vanguarda some fifty years ago when he was its editor, he was totally disgusted at the treatment meted out to Konknni in the Romi script. ‘This is not what we fought for,’ he said. Prabhakar Tendulkar was the one leading the battle of the Konknni Porjecho Avaz from Mapusa during the language agitation.
[NRI Commissioner Eduardo Faleiro re-launching Gõykar in July 2008. Also seen are Prabhakar Tendulkar, DKA President Premanand Lotlikar, then President of GKA, Pundalik Naik and Tomazinho Cardozo, editor.]
Attempts to kill Romi script
Writing in the inaugural issue (Voros I, Ank 1) after ‘gifting’ his Gõykar to Omor Prokaxon and now being edited by Tomazinho Cardozo, he minced no words when he said, ‘Konknniche apunn mhalgodde mhunntteleamni Romi lipintli Konknni marunk zaite proitn keleat ani azun kortat…’ (Those who pride themselves as being elders of the Konknni movement have made several attempts to kill Konknni in the Romi script. Even now they have not stopped these attempts…)
Prabhakar Tendulkar is equally vociferous when he speaks about the Sahitya Akademi Awards (Gõykar, Oct 2008 issue). ‘Sod’dea ji pod’dot asa ti apleach bhitor Award vanttun ghevpachi koxi dista. Elsewhere in the same article, he says: Romi lipientle Konknnint borim pustokam boroun aplem akhem jivit sarlelea Fr. Antonio Pereira sarkhilea boroupeak Sahitya Akademicho Award mellunk nam…’ (The present arrangement looks like they want to share the award amongst themselves… A writer like Fr. Antonio Pereira who spent his whole life writing quality Konknni books in the Romi script has not received the Sahitya Akademi Award…)
Calling a spade a spade has been Prabhakar Tendulkar’s hallmark. Even in the twilight years of his life, he continues to do just that!
Zolm-disachim porbim tumkam, Prabhakar-bab Tendulkar!
- Walter Menezes