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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Openness to See the Goodness in Others: My Saintly Aunt Karmin


Often relatives do make a great impact on our lives. When our close relatives who have made a difference in our lives, leave this world we notice the difference. Karmin - Konkani version of Carmel - (Veigas) Mascarenhas (1927-2018) is one of them. She lived her life to the full. She lived good 91 years; a year more than her dad Kaitan Veigas. In Konkani dad’s/father’s sisters are called “Akai”. As a thumb rule in our Konkani culture we never address our elders or seniors with their names, so Karmin Akai was always called or referred Odli Akai or permudachi Akai!

Among all of my relatives I found in Karmin Akai something different and unique. She was a woman of great faith and patience, a lady with kind words, affectionate and impeccable in diligence, in other words, a lady with a good nurtured holy soul. A woman who loved her relatives, neighbours and strangers alike. She bore 10 children and of whom three consecrated themselves to the religious life - two Nuns and a Carmelite priest. 

As growing up in our home in Kallyaradda in Badyar, I would see Karmin Akai at least once a month who would come down to meet her ageing parents - my grand parents - who also were blessed with a long and healthy life.  (Being our home an ancestral house, grand parents lived in the same house.) She also brought along with her Estel Akai, her younger sister who lived in close proximity to her home in Permuda, under the Venur Catholic parish with her husband and children. Karmin Akai‘s arrival brought to us a lot of joy, not only her graciousness which filled our home and surrounding, but also made our teeth happy with cookies and sweets she carried along for us. My grand parents too would be extremely happy, as their eldest daughter whom they loved so much would bring them also two bottles of distilled water, while my dad now and then would bring prohibition or he himself would make a vow to stop his childhood hobby but allowed the generousity of his eldest sister without any restrictions as he too respected and loved his Odle Bai. 

Karmin Akai, also, was very dear to us because she was a matchmaker of my parents. Thus, she introduced my mom to my dad, which she often would tell us proudly. In fact, my mom came from her place, two kilometers from her residence . In fact, Karmin Akai liked the perfectionism and hard working nature of my mom and Akai  noticed this when my mom worked in her rice field . In other words, Akai felt an extra responsibility towards my parents in encouraging them in their life together as couples. 

Karmin Akai was also a woman of great faith. She had an immense fervour for spiritual things and would recite prayers with great diligence and rhythm. A few years ago, I did a recording of her description about our ancestral history and how she along with her siblings migrated to our present location Kallyar in Badyar from Madanthyar in 1950. She was 23 years old then. 

Whenever Karmin Akai came down to see her parents she also made a point to visit her 7 brothers with a brisk visit. She would encourage many of them to stop getting into alcoholism because of their over enthusiasm in brass band which her brothers owned and made them popular from Bantwal to Chickmagalur and nevertheless, brought in a lot financial credit.

I wish and pray that this saintly lady who touched me in so many ways by her gentle and affectionate nature may enjoy the heavenly bliss with that compassionate Lord and Master of us all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lenten reflections: The Mystery is Ever Before Us

Painting by Paul C Salins
We are in the Season of Lent, where we delve deeper into the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.  Just like that Samaritan woman we will also be opening up our emptiness of human frailty before the great mystery of life and death, solace and suffering.  Perhaps we could ask ourselves whether we are ready to forgo just like that Samaritan woman our sense of guilt and helplessness before our sinful nature?  Can we be people of caring and ready to help those people who are in most need of us to quench their either physical or spiritual thirst or hunger?

Lent is a time to forgo something that would enhance either our life in the spirit or our human life in general.  Could we think about intensifying or enhancing our life by forgoing those attachments or things which do not allow us to live in the Spirit or with one another?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Mortality is ever present before us


Existential questions leave us perplexed. Human mortality is one of them. Anxiety is part and condition of our existence. The question of mortality makes aware that we are just visitors or pilgrims in this world. Our life is short and uncertain. The time that we have passed is perhaps longer than what we have for the future. Strangely we do not know what comes next and when would be our last moment, last word, last meal or last conversation with our beloved. But one thing is certain that end comes and unfortunately none of us may delay or prevent it. When a person suffers for a long time with a disease which is chronic, and curable medicine is still far from being invented the thought of mortality becomes ever more active and forefront in front of the suffering. In such desperate situations one has to learn to live ones life to the fullest. If there is moment to laugh one has to laugh, if there is moment to weep at the pain or suffer you someone, one has to be ready to shed ones tears of comfort and suffocate. Nothing that should allow us to lose the moment of our life. Every moment becomes precious in such situations of our volatile life.