By Colin Coelho
Uncouth, rude, untrustworthy, violent, cheater… Everyone in the crowd, everyone we call society, used these ‘expletives’ to describe one man. He was more known as a junk collector, a man who collected tattered pantleo and broken koderam. But the person I knew since school days did not seem to match the description, because he came across to me as creative: the one with a ‘go-getter’ attitude and was ruthless while he moved to achieve this.
It was probably way back in 1984 that I sat on the same bench as Victor Hugo Gomes. In the few days that our class-teacher allowed us to be bench-partners, I learnt a lot about Victor. Was he crazy? Indeed yes. Crazy like there was no tomorrow. Was he kind? Yes. Kind like a human being should be.
Then I met Victor at the then ‘Arlem Festival’. It was the first edition of the festival and I was pleasantly surprised to know that he was the event coordinator. The show at BPS Club, Margao was organized with great pomp. I recall meeting Victor, along with my sister, after the show and offering him a few ideas, which he listened to and took them as good suggestions.
As years went by, we were hardly in touch. But a purchase of a computer from me by Victor put us on the friendship track again. And as I spent time at Victor’s Margao office trying to put together the computer to suit his requirement, I watched as he auditioned an Indian classical music band to perform at some hotels around Goa. His questions were precise and musically probing. What impressed me no end was the way he conducted the session. How he was particular and meticulous in getting to the actual requirement and how he guided the group into getting there.
One morning, I was on my lunch break and made my way to the market. As I strolled around Farmacia Menezes at Margao, I heard my name being called. As I looked up I saw Victor who was all excited and seemed on top of the world. I went across the road to meet him and he had this to say, exhilarating voice hitting an ecstatic pitch: “I’m getting married.” It did not end there, before I could even congratulate him or say something he continued: “I told you I would decide suddenly. These are crazy decisions I make!” Whoever heard of making a ‘crazy’ decision about a marriage? Only Victor can, I later realized. When I asked him who the ‘crazy’ girl is, he told me of a name I knew from a few years ago since she and I had attended a Youth Leadership programme together. Aldina Braganza was no ‘crazy’ girl from what I knew her! But there seemed to be something unique about this match. Unfortunately I could not attend their wedding, but really was happy for them both.
Again Victor and I lost touch. I began my writing on music and Victor was not to be seen much. Later I got to know from the horse’s mouth so to speak, that this lull had Victor plotting and planning, in fact conniving, with Goa’s culture to do something that was not heard of. A few friends told me about how Victor visited their place and wanted to buy all their old things. But will he pay? This was the question that seemed the chorus in town. But building up a collection he did. And there are no more murmurs from around the crowd.
A few years later I met Victor at a restaurant. This was a memorable visit. He came up to me and said bluntly: “Stop writing about music.” I knew Victor as the pioneer of the Great Music Revival concerts held at various venues around Goa. But I never expected a good friend to be so blunt. Of course I did not listen to him and continued on my passion… writing about music and musicians. In one article I remember having the opportunity of giving the ‘devil’ his due. I spoke of how Victor promoted the jazz scene and gave it a high pedestal in Goa and was one of the first to do it. This certainly brought Victor and me close together again. A recognition for each other’s talents and achievements.
Involving myself in writing about some articles on events at Goa Chitra has also been a source of great joy. It was in one interview that the passionate man expressed how he and Aldina decided they would have no kids. He decided he wanted to nurture and allow his creativity in Goa Chitra to bloom. A difficult decision that may be a shocker to many, but a source of joy to them.
The emotion and passion in the man makes him more and more likeable and admirable. Yes he has his flaws. But more importantly he has his strengths – his unrestricted creativity and his indomitable passion.
Colin Coelho is a columnist and freelance writer. He writes music reviews, previews and profiles for various newspapers, magazines and publications, and is an active member of GOA-YMCA Toastmasters Club.