My Father, my Son & I

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
29 December 2011 20:26 IST

Let me confess that I am a huge, unabashed unadulterated fan of Amitabh Bachchan. I grew up with him, for Pete’s sake. Watching his movies in dingy theatres, imitating his swagger and booming voice, trying  to live his angry young man image myself, he remains my all time icon.

So, one day, I sat with my 12 year old son and decided to “educate”  him and ‘hardsell” my icons, to enhance his knowledge about them. Big B, Kapil Dev and that immortal 1983 triumph, Michael Jackson and his mind blowing music, Che Guevara and his heroic revolution, I instructed him about the glorious beauty of our generation and how he and his pals were wasting their time on Harry Potters and Rick Riordans and the Black Eyed Peas (for god’s sake the only peas we knew were the ones my grandmother put in her pulao) And Steve Jobs, of course, the genius of the Apple but destroyer of human communication. “Touch” another human being, I advised my son. Don’t “Touch” another I pad !!

My, composed, supremely observant and certainly well balanced son ( all qualities he’s inherited from his mother) blew his fuse on hearing this puerile   balderdash I was dishing out to him. His ears turned red (he’s inherited that from me) and his voice was quavering with palpable rage.

“Papa” (or “Don”) he said in that soft Michael Corleone voice “Don’t you dare mock my icons” Have you ever seen the bell bottoms your Amitabh wore in the 70’s. You guys were from a bizarre, alien planet !!!

As  the war of words continued, my wife arched her eye brows, looked at us from the book she was reading and with an economy of words but with mounds of infinite wisdom said this to the two warring men in her life.

“Stop arguing Oscar. You will defend your heroes. He will defend his”. Neither of you is ever ever going to betray the power, the sheer glory, the unbridled joy  and the eternal hope of your YOUTH”!!!

Our YOUTH !! That is what ultimately  shapes, guides, and eventually defines us. No other relationships, or icons or agendas in our later life can ever change the powerful innocence and wide eyed beauty of our youth. And it is our icons  who we cling to as we grow older and falter into middle age.

And then, Boom,  as if  a Thunderclap, it hit me like a nuclear bomb. The truth was always there, staring me in my face.

These were the same discussions I used to have with my Dad in the balcao, when I was a kid.

I used to always look at him quizzically and never quite partake of the joy when he discussed  the mellifluous voice of Amalia Rodrigues and her fado, or connect with the stories of how he used to perform “silly” antics like serenade young girls with his friends at midnight and get stoned by the girls parents or   why he used to go misty eyed  when he recounted the  exploits  of footballers of Benfica or Sporting or of his mischief days at the Lyceu at  Altinho.

I always suspected him of being a pro Portuguese apologist.

But now I realize that the Portuguese cultural emblems  of his time were only the excuse. My father was clinging to the magical moments of his youthful days, memories that still sustain him as he looks romantically into my mother’s eyes in fading sunset, by the beach.

And so, too I understand the angst, the rage and the bitterness of two men, I know  well Nagesh Karmali and Prabhakar Sinari who fought against the repressive Portuguese rule.

I may be wrong, but my guess is that freedom fighters are so deeply hurt, primarily because the prime of their youth was spent in jails in jungles and in jeopardy thanks to the erstwhile regime and today we the beneficiaries of that freedom they sacrificed so much for - have all the liberty to mock and ridicule them. But then would it help if they looked back with forgiveness instead of anger to ease their pain.

How much more serene and truly contented our Goan existence would be, if across communities, We as a people could connect with another through a simple HUMAN bond. A bond of youth and spring; of love and romance; of conversation and humor; of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Instead we constantly chatter among ourselves through the “Political” Idiom. The language of triumphalism and betrayal; of retribution and unforgiving; of annexation and invasion; of bitterness and winter.

Whatever it is, we need to get this fact straight into the hard drives of our consciousness on this our 50th Birthday. WE ARE NO LONGER PORTUGUESE GOA. This Goa is ours; This garbage is ours; These miners and real estate sharks and politicians are ours; These hills and fields are ours;   These challenges are ours; This destiny and fate and future is collectively OURS.


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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Dr, this was a refreshing read, nice blog!

- Andrea Noronha, Melbourne, Australia | 06 th March 2012 12:43


Oscar it is well known that

"By the time a man realizes that his father was right, he has a son old enough to tell him that he is wrong."

Your post merely proves that.

- Rahul Kakodkar, New Delhi | 31 st January 2012 13:04


very beautifully written sir. "The Days of our youth are the days of our glory."

I am still young at 30's but i have seen goa turning from the good to bad to ugly. specially in politics. i remember before the PDF Govt. was formed in 80's people of Goa were as innocent as me as a kid at that age. How from 1994 election onwards people started selling their votes. how genuine and not so genuine but relatively harmless leaders were fazed out by the currupt and criminal, and how goa is slowly dying.

At the rate the destruction is going on i give goa max 5 years. a goa which as a kid i used to draw in only two water colours, blue for sky and water and green for land will be a brown and black slum surrounded by mountains of garbage whose main businesses will be prostitution, drug trade and gambling.

And we all are responsible for it either for being involved in it or for being indifferent or buisy fighting with each others while some criminals are working hard to turn their plan of Goa 2021 into a reality.

I wonder what i am going to tell my children and whether they are going to believe my fairy tales of golden goa.

no regards on regret,

Shriniwas Khalap

- shriniwas khalap, New Delhi | 08 th January 2012 17:59


Here's a thought. What if a few of us took it upon ourselves to market honest skilled work as cool? For example : baking bread for a living? Totally cool and absolutely necessary too; growing vegetables and crops of all sorts, ecologically ofcourse, taking care of trees and land, looking after the aging and sick and differently abled, building our own homes and furniture ourselves, again ecologically and ethically, making a whole lot more of our clothing ourselves, rehabilitating 'messed up' natural(and built-up)public areas as intelligently planned community programmes, musical/theatrical 'jam sessions' like those from my childhood that encouraged musical and artistic ability in a pleasantly laid-back yet effective manner, get the picture. The list goes on...

The point is, if it's not seen as respectful and rather neat you're not gonna get anyone to do it as is the current state of things which has to led to, well, the current state of things... For the record, I am a Goan, born and bred but no longer tethered to its shores. I visit often to walk in the hills and fields and climb our glorious trees that I miss all the time while living in a union of the most open, accountable, effective and representative governments in the world but which are clearly far from perfect yet better than anyone else out there.

And I am rather fond of pointy collars and pre mid 1990s popular culture albeit that which is mostly appreciated in a 'western' mindset.

- Mark, Southern Europe | 08 th January 2012 04:34


Okay Dotor, so 40 percent migrants, pann eating and burping belching belong to us rest of Goans. Great Dotor, but remember, Mathematics and Medicine are poles apart. Another five years the migrants will be 60 per cent.

So you glorify the Hindu practices and accuse others of being pro Portuguese.

Do not writ "unhappened things" as articles to serve you purpose. Draw a line between pure and only oure facts, and wishfull "c oulld be the case" articles, just because you have the knack to write.

Even so 40 percent of Migrants care a damn for waht you write. Their pulse, only "dotor" and "fator" , Oscar and Churchill respectively knows.

- Antonio Alvares, Sinquetim Navelim | 04 th January 2012 01:02


Well reminds me of a quote by the very famous Aristotle....“Youth is easily deceived, because it is quick to hope.”....... it holds even true now......

Well talking about the issues which you put forth in the tail of the article.....definitely has several others which needs ANNAtion too....


Caste-ism .....Class-ism (with the frequently hot question asked - TU BAAMAN ???? certainly more discussed than SUNNY LEON, ANNA HAZAARE and RAKHI SAWANT put together).....

PORTUGUESE ORIGIN-ism (never knew that it existed till i felt it in rooted in Panjim)........

and Russian-ISM (engulfing Goenkars.....thanks to the Russian Boards everywhere.....and the gorgeous.......OLGAs every where.....).....

and the list is definitely not as short as Vidya balan's tops.....

All the above are just part of Goa's DIRTY PICTURE ........Picture abhi bahut baaki hai.................

- Kapil Usgaokar, Vasco-da-gama | 30 th December 2011 22:46


Absolutely, only we can fix it....the insidious fundamentalism, the cultural terrorism, the graft, the civic indiscipline and irresponsibility. But we've come to a point where we dont even notice the ills around us, leave alone wanting to do something about it and about the land our ancestors sacrificed to preserve and hand down the generations to us! We are a sad lot...

- Armenia, Sharjah | 30 th December 2011 21:35


I wish we Goans have a leader like your thinking power , skills and of course educated. I think Goa will die without doctos like you.

- John W D Souza, Margoa | 30 th December 2011 19:27


Agree with you Senhor Dotorzinho. We need to fix these problems. It appears however that the disease has gone beyond the realm of medicine onto the domain of surgery. It needs a drastic change of heart and mind. Our brethren should not take a grand week-end off on the 3rd and 4th of MARCH 2012. They should go and vote in the upcoming election. It does matter. No point cribbing later.

- Irineu A.Pereira, Porvorim | 29 th December 2011 23:10


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