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Cotula walk – III

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

As my friend Salvador Mascarenhas and I continued to walk through the vaddo (ward) of Cotula in Saligao, we found ourselves at the house of the late Sebastian Pinto. He was an Africander, a social worker, and always smiling. Opposite is Amanda Lopes e Souza’s residence—she is now in Portugal. She was a good pianist and a very amiable character. She was senior to us at Mater Dei, and we were also acquainted with her brother Jerry, and Gloria.

At this point is the road that leads to Saligao church and beyond. Being tired, we took a break under the shelter of the house of our friend Dominic Andrade. I informed them that besides Lourdes Convent, Cotula had several schools teaching Latin and Portuguese in olden times. The first school to be set up in this ward was that of Padre Mesre André Soares from Salém, Salvador do Mundo.  He was authorized to teach by a provision dated 26-08-1751. He was a master in Latin. There was a boys’ school, teaching Portuguese and ‘latinidade’ conducted by Fr. Lazaro de Souza. It was fondly known as Pe. Ladru’s school. It was one of the four Government Public Schools. It owed its existence to Mr. José da Gama, who generously offered free plots on which a large building was erected in Cotula. This building has since been demolished and private houses have come up on the premises. In an annexe, primary classes in Portuguese used to be conducted by Antoninho Cordeiro, around the beginning of the twentieth century. Another Latin and Portuguese school in this ward was that of Father Caetano Maria Anacleto Rodrigues.

There was also a Music School where José Luis Rodrigues conducted music classes. Another school in Cotula was the Anglo-Portuguese School founded in 1894 by Francisco Xavier de Mendonça and Diogo Miguel de Sousa, assisted by Leopoldina Pinto. Saligao had some other schools in other wards too. The present Lourdes Convent High School was started in Cotula in 1946 by the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King (FMCK). Mother Bridget Sequeira, who founded the FMCK Order in Karachi was a native of Sonarbhatt in Saligao. She sailed from Karachi with three sisters at the request of a gentleman from Saligao and arrived in Goa on 13 May 1946. They arrived at a house in Cotula which would be called the Lourdes Convent in future. It was in the residence of an elderly lady and her two daughters where they started an English school with 30 pupils. It was a large private mansion from where later on the school was shifted to other private residences in Arrarim. The nuns now have their own modern one-storied imposing structure amidst pleasant surroundings on a hillock of Donvaddo in the proximity of Sonarbhatt. This convent cum school was built in three stages and finally completed in 1968.

 While resting outside Dominic Andrade’s house we glanced at the western side of the ward and noticed a school conducting classes in English by the “Believers”. Nearby, there was the house of Servulo whom we affectionately called Sevo and who is no more.

 Earlier, there was a “domestic arts” school at this spot. Girls so inclined could learn needlework, embroidery, dressmaking, dancing and music. Gender roles were obviously very well-defined in those days! In these schools, elements of reading and writing were also taught, but the emphasis was on domestic arts.   Eslinda de Souza, who conducted combined classes for dress-making and painting, lived in this part of Cotula.

 Next we saw the house of Archibald Serrao. He was our Maths teacher at Mater Dei Institute. Later on he taught the same subjects at Lourdes Convent.   He was also famous for arranging football matches in the village as well as at Mater Dei. He took utmost care of the football players, and always encouraged them.

 At the far end of this part of Cotula is the house of late Damasceno Dantas, who used to conduct the daily rosary in the church, and always seemed to be cheerful and happy. His brother, Pascoal João (Paul) Dantas, was a leader at Mater Dei School.  He now lives in the US, but does visit Saligao – I remember that Pascoal and his wife were once presidents of the Saligao feast.

 The former house of the Gama Rose family is also in Cotula. The famous journalist of yesteryear, Leopoldo da Gama was born in that house. He received his first education in one of the Portuguese schools in Cotula. He contributed his writings in Portuguese to a number of journals and newspapers in Goa and was the editor of some of them. Here is an interesting incident in his life:

“Provocation came on a sweltering day in May. Under a blazing noonday sun, a young man was stripped to the waist and publicly flogged half to death for ‘raising his hand’ at a Portuguese official. On the following Sunday, Leopoldo da Gama’s column was titled ‘A Call to Arms’.  It was an impassioned plea for violent revolution. The same night four of the most powerful men in Goa met in the imposing palace on the cliffs of Dona Paula: the Governor, the Public Prosecutor, the Chief of Constabulary and the Commander of the Panjim garrison. The Governor sought the legal view.  ‘Treason’ said the Public Prosecutor succinctly.  Leopoldo da Gama is to be arrested tomorrow. A mundkar brought the news early in the morning to Dona Carlota da Gama that her son Leopoldo would be arrested that morning.  Leopoldo da Gama saved himself from a fate worse than death by hiding beneath his mother’s skirt. The Captain arrived at Dona Carlota’s house and gave her the message ‘I have a warrant for the arrest of Leopoldo da Gama, on a charge of high treason with written permission from the Chief of Constables to search your house. ‘My son’ Dona Carlota said, lying with great conviction, ‘left yesterday morning for Margao,’ and remained unfazed in the porch without moving. The Captain and the rest of his men began to hunt for Leopoldo.  They peered into cupboards, looked under beds and tables, went up to the loft, in frustration attacked the haystack with unnecessary violence.  They searched even the chapel and also the well and the wash-room. But they did not find Leopoldo anywhere. They left the house, the mundkars rushed to announce that the troops had already reached the Porvorim hill. ‘You can come out now…’  Leopoldo emerged.  His expression made it clear that he had begun to appreciate the hazards of crusading journalism. They made Leopoldo strip, smeared him from top to toe with coconut oil, over which they rubbed in black kitchen soot. Unrecognizable, he was given trousers and shirts, a blanket, a staff and a packet of food and some money. There were tearful farewells. He could never return to Goa. Then, living off the land he walked all the way to Bombay, four hundred miles to the north, there to become the popular General Manager of the very British Royal Yacht Club.” 

After many years he did return to Goa at Penha de França where he died on 28 April, 1929 and his mortal remains lay buried in the parish cemetery. He was the son of Luis António da Gama from Saligao, a top judge, and of Carlota Joaquina Gonsalves (Penha de França). Their house in Saligao has since been bought by some rich gentleman.

6 comments on Cotula walk – III

  • Jules Fausto M de Sa

    Dear Fr Nascimento,
    These anecdotes and stories give us such a lovely inkling of village lives which has almost disappeared. I still recall my first ever visit to Goa in 1976 when people used to sit and chat on the balcao with their neighbours who used to come around. In those days many villages did not even have electricity by the camaraderie was wonderful. This has sadly disappeared with neighbours arguing about few centimetres of land.
    Well, Fr. Nascimento, I watched your interview on You Tube and would very much like to obtain copies of the three books you have written. Can you tell me where they are available? I could then ask my brother-law to pick it for me. Also, you had another book written on the 100th or 150th Anniversary of Dr Claudio Gama Pinto. I would also like to have that one as well!
    And another thing, You have mentioned here a story of Luis Antonio da Gama married to Carlota Joaquina Gonsalves. Was his son also called Luis Antonio da Gama married to Martha Cordeiro (daughter of Dr Jeronimo Caetano Cordeiro of Mapusa).
    Fr Nascimento, I would prefer to send you emails asking for information through a more direct approach. My email address is faustodesa69@hotmail.com.
    Regards
    Fausto

  • Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

    Dear Mr. Fausto,
    I thank you very much for your comments. God bless you and yours. Stocks of all my books are exhausted.
    I do not know if Luis Antonio da Gama married to Martha Cordeiro (daughter of Dr. Jeronimo Caetano Cordeiro from Mapuca) has any connections with Luis Antonio da Gama who married Carlota Joaquina Gonsalves. Unfortunately, it is too taxing for me on account of ill health and old age to find out the details at the moment. I am very sorry. Thank you for your e-mail address. My Gmail id is najoma8. With Prayers, Fr. nascimento mascarenhas.

  • Cheryl D'Sa (Dantas)

    Dear Fr Nascimento

    Thank you for your comments of my Late dad Damaceno Dantas. He lived his life in Saligao and always at the feet of Mae De Dues to serve the chuch he loved. He often spoke highly of the priests of Saligao and your name was mentioned in our house. I will be visiting Goa next week with my 2 sisters to attend the feast of Mae De Dues. Wish you good health.

    Cheryl

  • fr.nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear Cheryl,
    Thank yoy very much for your wonderful comments . Very glad to know that you the daughter of my dear friend Mr. Damasceano Dantas from Cotula, Saligao. Though he is not with us, he has left in our hearts an imprint of his great love to Saligao and especial devotion of Mae de Deus, our Patroness whose feast this year in been celebrated on 8th May He served dearly our Saligao parishioners for many years bringing us specially together, the early risers , to the church and conducting the Rosary every morning before the Holy Mass Very happy to know that you will be attending the feast along with your sisters. What are their names ? Do kindly pray for all of us at saligaosernade , However I regret very mich that i will not be able to meet you at the feast as I am very busy at the Holy Spirit Church, Margao on 8th. May. I will pray for all Saligaokars at home and in diaspora. Boas Festas !
    fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • Cheryl D'Sa

    Dear Fr Nacimento

    Just back from our trip to Goa with my sisters Maureen Lobo (married to Raymond Lobo) and Francisca Dantas. The feast day was very grand, all memories came rushing back. We were pleased to meet Fr Almir at church, he remembered us three sisters. Fr Almir came to my aid in 2000 when the then parish priest of Saligao refused to give our daughter Lauren first holy communion as she did not live in Saligao. Fr Almir celebrated mass at the feet of St Francis Xavier in Old Goa on Easter Sunday and we came away feeling priviledged and blessed. My son Aaron received his first Holy Communion at Mae De Dues church in Saligao in 1996. Saligao is blessed having such devoted priests such as yourself, Fr Almir and many others in the village who care about its people. Your documentation of the past and its people will leave a trail for future generations. You all are always in my prayers.

    Wish you good health
    Cheryl

  • fr.nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear Cheryl,
    Greetings from Margao.
    My prayers are with you and with your dear sisters. I was happy to learn that this trip of yours to Goa brought you happy memories of your past days especially in Saligao. Were you and your sisters ever part of the various ” serenatas” we had in our native village ? These serenades with lit colourful lentersn in hand and singing joyful songs gave us much happiness . Hence we entitled our blog as Saligaoserenade. I wish you a happy month of June. Sant Antoni bhogta , ochariam tujim tera. Choddavem kori bhogta , Amam papianchea ghara !!! Do you remember this hymn ?
    It is raining cats and dogs in this commercial city of Goa ( Margao) but Saligao is still dry. May Our Lady of Mae de Deus shower on you and yours showers of blessings. Please keep in touch. fr. nascimento mascarenhas.

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