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Remembering the mother of Goan Nightingale Lorna

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Today is the tenth death anniversary of Cecilia Cordeiro, mother of Lorna — the nightingale of Goa – from the village of Saligao. Cecilia’s other children are Elvino, Albert, Jean, Oscar, Salvador and Clementine, and her husband was Teofilo Cordeiro.

At the time of her death in Dhobi Talao, Mumbai, on 4th March 2002, Cecilia’s daughter Lorna was at her side. Lorna was the only one of the children staying in Mumbai then, and she looked after her mother for several years before that. Cecilia had celebrated her 89th birthday on 4th February 2002 and died exactly a month later, of old age.

Cecilia Cordeiro, as I remember her, was a mother who inculcated a love for the Konkani language in the hearts of her children. Every year when the family came home for the holidays in May to their ancestral house in Tabravaddo, Saligao, I, their immediate neighbour, was impressed very much by their singing Konkani hymns after the night Rosary. The mother led the family in the daily Rosary prayer, concluding it with the singing of the litany. Their harmonious voices echoed through the ward and we stood at our windows listening to the melodious singing and softly participated too from a distance. Cecilia encouraged her musical children, and ignited a joyous spark in our otherwise sleepy ward during their holidays in Saligao. And she always spoke with her children in Konkani.

Today, whenever Lorna sings, her words in Konkani are crystal clear. Why so? It was Lorna’s mother Cecilia Cordeiro who ensured that Lorna’s diction was perfect and the words in Konkani well pronounced. Of course all her daughters had good, musical voices and the boys did not lag far behind. Though Lorna and Jean were crooners with different bands in Bombay, in Saligao it was the mother and the father who led the singing at the evening fiesta. For the month of May, after their supper each day, it was a treat to hear this family singing different songs in English and Konkani and always ending them with a mando-dulpod sequence.

Lorna’s mother was a soft-spoken lady and took household chores very seriously. She also saw to it that her children got a good education, were groomed in social graces, and well disciplined too. As they grew up and married, some moved to different parts of Mumbai and others overseas. Ultimately, it was left to Lorna to take care of her mother. But sometimes the singer daughter found it difficult to leave her mother in other people’s hands when she went on singing tours. Nevertheless, she was at her mother’s side when the end came.

Lorna’s grandfather was Salu Cordeiro, and in fact their house in Saligao is generally known as “Salu Cordeiro’s house”. There was a small school for girls housed therein, during the early 1930s. With classes up to standard three, it was a branch of the Costa’s School that functioned in the adjoining ward of Mollembhatt in Saligao.

Cecilia Cordeiro and her husband Teofilo instilled into the hearts of their children genuine love and consideration for their neighbours. It was a treat to meet them when they returned home, as they were visibly and immensely pleased to be in the company of their neighbours and others from the village. We of Saligao are all proud that Mr. and Mrs. Cordeiro gave to the Konkani musical world their daughter Lorna, who is rightly called the Goan Nightingale. On this day I pray in a special way for the soul of Lorna’s mother Cecilia Cordeiro, being fully confident that she has received her just reward in full measure in the Heavenly Kingdom.

13 comments on Remembering the mother of Goan Nightingale Lorna

  • melba mergulhao antao

    Nice……..now i know Lorna’s roots. Always thought she was

    from south Goa. Informative piece.

  • Jacinta D'Souza

    Fr. Nascimento,

    Thank you for enlightening us on the roots of Lorna and most of all who her parents and other siblings were, their lifestyle, where they lived and what they did.

    Yes I know Lorna as the nightingale of Goa and was not sure where she was from. At times I heard that she was from Sangolda. I feel proud when I refer to Lorna as a Saligaokar and many other well known people I have known who hailed from Saligao and of course not forgetting those I have personally encountered during the beautiful years I lived in Saligao. A village, that cannot be compared to another.

  • Dear Jacinta,
    Greetings from Goa.
    I thank you very much for your comments. May God bless you
    Lorna’s father is from Saligao and her mother is from Sangolda and they were both my neighbours in Saligao You are from which vaddo of Saligao and at present where are you ? My prayers are with you.
    fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • Caroline cordeiro e pinto

    Thank you Fr Nacimento. It was lovely reading what you wrote here. Read your book about Saligao and was amazed at the wealth of information you have shared. Such a lovely tribute . I did meet you ages ago when I was a part of a choir that was singing for Ivan and Majorie’s wedding . From Donvaddo.
    Take care and keep well.

  • Fernandes

    Yes i am also a big fan of her. I met her last year in 2012 one of the Hotel in South Goa. She has a very kind Heart.
    Planned to introduce & bring her voice in my Friends Hindi Bollywood Film in 2014. Hope her song will be reached all over the world.

  • Kadhim

    I need to know about Jean Cordeiro. Where is she now a days ?
    I used to visit their home in Dhobi Talao Bombay and meet her folks.
    I remember the name of the building was ‘Gazdar House’
    Dear Jean
    If we happen to meet in life, you must sing my favourite song
    ” Till ” which you used to always sing for me during your dsys
    in Venice.Do you remember me ?

  • Sharon

    Cecilia Cordeiro was my grandmother. A very nice article which I happened to find by fluke. She never had a son called Salvador. My father was called Oscar and my great grand father was called Salvador. Either way it would be great if I could get in touch with you as you are our neighbor in saligao and I am very interested in knowing more about my other distant relatives (Salvador’s other children).
    My aunt Jean lives in Croatia.

  • Joan Azariah (Trinidade)

    Dear Fr. Nascimento,

    Wonderful to read your articles on Saligao. My mother Ida Trinidade (Dias) daughter of Sebastiao & Emeliana Dias too came from Tabravaddo. She had 2 brothers Geoffrey and Luis Dias. I used to visit my grandmother’s house every summer vacation in May. The Cordeiro family was also well known to us as their house was just behind ours. Met Lorna sometime last year when she performed at Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana. I have beautiful memories of Saligao and its majestic Mae De Deus Church. My parents are now very old. I think you used to visit my grandmother as you lived nearby and was a young priest then.
    Warm Regards, Joan

  • Gerard Oscar Vaz

    Dear Fr.N.Mascarenhas,

    I am from Donvaddo, Saligao. I was born and raised in Nairobi Kenya, and am now residing in Mississauga On. Canada.
    Recently a friend from Saligao and now residing in Calgary, Canada emailed the Saligao Serenade to us.
    I read your article on Lorna and in one of the comments I read about you having written a book on Saligao. Please let me know how best to obtain a copy.
    May God bless you and all your wonderful work.
    Best wishes, Gerard.

    saligao

    serenade

  • A. D'Mello

    Dear Fr. Mascarenhas.

    My name is A. D’Mello and I used to be the neighbour of Lorna at Gazdar house in B’bay. This was what was told to me when I was older, although I was a little younger to Lorna…another interesting fact is that when my dad a famous box guitarist in hindi movies as a background musician it seems he would always say that this child (lorna) will one day be a well known personality in music. and today she has be come known as the nighting gale of Goa.
    Your write up on her mother is really good and I loved reading it.
    Cheers!

  • Nolasco De Sousa

    I’m trying to make a donation to The Mae de Deus Home for the Aged but can’t find their street number, plot number or house number that my bank are requesting in order to transfer the money from Canada. I would appreciate this information if anyone can help.

    What I do have is..
    Mae de Deus Home for the Aged (Ladies)
    Saligao – Cottula Bardez
    Goa 403511, India

  • PARTHA CHANDA

    Dear Fr. Mascarenhas ,

    I too was a fan of Jean when she was a crooner at Venice Restaurant in Bombay in the late sixties and was immensely impressed by her singing .

    Now I have settled down in Goa and would like to know where Jean is at present and if it is possible to meet her .

    Thank you .

  • lloyd rodrigues

    hey father it will be a great help to me
    can u please send me the picture of lornas house as im doing my english project on her

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