By Radharao Gracias
Radharo Gracias’s portrait of Victor Hugo Gomes and his journey of building Goa Chitra from the ground up is an uplifting piece about hope, the transformative power of dreams, and the importance of madness to be successful.
Do you know Victor was the question hurled at me. Of course, I do was my answer. And, then came the challenge. Write what you know about Victor. And so, I got to writing what you are about to read.
Do I know Victor? And this time the answer was a huge no. Does anyone know Victor? And the answer is no. Does Victor know himself? And the answer again is no. Strange but true.
I have actually “known” Victor for decades. I have often gone and sat with him, on the innocuous patch of land his family owned, not far from his ancestral house. And he would explain his plans for it which appeared to me to be unrealistic. But then, Victor is an artist. And every artist has a right to dream and to convert the dream into reality. Every subsequent visit, I was left wondering whether it is the same place I had visited a few months earlier. Dramatic changes were taking place. Sometimes I wondered is Victor a thief? Has he managed to get hold of P.C.Sorkar’s magic wand?
At other times, looking at Victor, I thought maybe he is the first successful alchemist. The innocuous property is now a wonderland where you can see the entire past at a glance. He has certainly managed to change base metal into bronze. And is well on his way to turn it into silver and gold!
And Victor has achieved all this with no help from any government authority or rather, despite obstacles by all powers that be. I have seen him struggle trying to secure access to his property. I have seen him struggle trying to overcome nightmares induced by officials, and achieve his dream. Nothing could daunt him.
How did Victor reach this far? I have no answer. But sometimes I wonder, has it something to do with his native village. As we know, Benaulim is known for the quality of its coconuts. And its nuts too. I remember in my younger days, when I was a little mischievous with my siblings, which was quite frequently, my mother would castigate me. And one day out of anger she shouted, is my son going mad? And my immediate answer was, may be. After all, I said, my grandmother (her mother) is from Benaulim. And she had a good laugh.
I believe that sometimes to achieve success one must have a little madness; the capacity to look beyond the ordinary. A little madness can do to you much more than full sobriety can. I have never seen Victor mad but did the Benaulim effect have any role to play in such a stupendous success? My guess is as good as yours.
And there is the old adage which goes, behind the success of every man…Victor’s wife has proved the adage meaningless and outdated. I have known Aldina for long. She is always by Victor’s side and not infrequently in front. And rarely behind. So, for those of you, who believe in the old saying, just forget it.
Now, I do not know how to conclude this bit of an essay. In fact, you cannot conclude anything about Victor at all. So you can be assured that as we go along, this blog will grow with Victor.
Radharao Gracias is an eminent lawyer, social activist, politician, and ornithologist. He was the former president of South Goa Advocates Association and a former independent MLA. He is a regular columnist and a history lover.