By Pravin Sabnis
On Victor Hugo’s exit from the Christian Art Museum over differences with the museum directors, Russell Murray said “I cannot say for sure, but I think it was the anger that he channelled to pick himself up and throw himself into something new.” In the following piece, Pravin Sabnis enlightens us further as to how Victor redirected all his rage and transformed it into creative productivity.
I first met him during our college days. He was studying in the Goa College of Art and I was studying at the Goa College of Architecture. My first impression of him was that of an ‘angry young man’. Over the years, many things have changed but not that original impression of the personality of Victor Hugo Gomes. He was always engulfed in fury, speaking against injustice, against mediocrity and against hypocrites and pretenders. Initially, I thought him to be just a talker but over many interactions emerged more layers of his personality. His indignation was not at the surface. The roots of his rage arose out of great depth. It was an era of student rebellion and angry voices of a restless crowd. But Victor’s anger was more personal rather than arising from a collective synergy. His angst seemed to be of a lone ranger, but a loner he did not remain. He seemed to enjoy the company of similarly angry, restless persons but he would not easily trust anyone fully.
Victor was as sharp as he was sceptical. Despite detailed discussions and explanations by me, he refused to join our college strike. It was pertinent to note that he was not ready to be part of the herd, just because his friend was leading it. He had no quarrel about the cause; he just was not convinced about his deep doubts and apprehensions. He would not jump into something just because he agreed with the purpose or trusted the proposer. He wanted to be clear about everything. The ‘who’ and ‘how’ were as important to him as the ‘why’ of doing anything. His indignation, which seemed uncontrolled, was aligned to critical and deep thinking. His rage chose to be responsive, not reactive. The art student’s fury was intertwined with passion. I began to realise that he held the emotion of hope as well as the sentiment of restlessness. Many of our generation seemed consumed by a rebellious rage, and displayed great integrity and commitment to this unrest. Yet most were not able to sustain the fire like Victor did.
Many of the angry young men and women moved away from the path of unrest. They had their reason and justifications of pulling back…first earning to sustain, then to go up the ladder. But Victor’s passionate rage seemed to be like the embers that remain smouldering on, even when the flames have died down. Victor stuck to his ‘agneepath’, even at the cost of being forced out of his labour of love that he so painstakingly put together. His passion was not doused even at the prospect of losing out due to his stubborn integrity. Every dampener would further fuel his fire. And this confirmed that the angry young man’s rage had not retreated with age.
Victor’s emotional fury made him constantly step out of the confines of his boundaries. From putting together music shows to restoring and retrieving a losing heritage, Victor allowed his rage to fuel his progress towards transforming the negative situation. His anger at the callous and careless attitude towards a diminishing cultural heritage resulted in the impressive Goa Chitra, then Goa Chakra, and now Goa Cruti.
As he continues to stretch the footprints of his impressive legacy, Victor has learnt to spread the fire among his growing team. Now, he no longer walks alone. His partner Aldina seems to be the balance that ensures that his anger is no longer just flames, it is more like a torch that not only lights up the path but can also turn into a cutting edge. Every stimulus can trigger off a wide range of responses. One of the possible responses is anger. So often, the situation is such that the rage seems natural. We get disturbed by the provocation born of dismay, disgust or distress. So easily we respond with rage, but it is pertinent to ask whether our rage is responsive.
Indignation is definitely desirable over indifference and insensitivity. But mere fury is just hot air. However, if the hot air makes a huge balloon rise and takes people along to loftier actions, then the fury turns worthy. We need to be better at ensuring that our rage is not just a reaction… it must transform into a responsive action that can strive to overcome the very cause of that rage… like Victor Hugo Gomes has!
Pravin Sabnis is a corporate coach with a passion to connect people to their potential. Through his enterprise ‘Unlearning Unlimited’, he has conducted over 1900 workshops. He is known for innovative use of song, dance and experiential activities. Pravin writes the Monday Muse blog since the first Monday of 2004. He also expresses his creativity through poetry, theatre and oratory. Pravin has been active in the student movement, Citizens Initiative for Communal Harmony, Goa Bachao Abhiyan and the SEZ Virodhi Manch. He is proactively involved in JCI, Rotary Club, Goa Hiking Association, Samraat Club, Nisarg Nature Club, FilmBeam and YHAI.