Edwin D’Souza has been chosen for the prestigious Central Sahitya Akademi Award for 2016 for his Konkani novel Kallem Bhangaar (Black Gold), an award he will receive towards the end of this month.
D’Souza, elated after winning the Kendra SahityaAkademi award said “There could not be a better award when given at the right time and without lobbying. What is more important is to get an award when you feel that you deserve it. In my case all these three factors played their role.”
Edwin Joseph Francis D’Souza is a well-known Konkani litterateur. He is also the executive director of the Konkani Institute and also the editor of research journal ‘Amar Konkani’, at St. Aloysius College, Mangaluru.
Edwin D’Souza was born in Valencia, Mangaluru in June 1948 and studied in St Aloysius (Autonomous) College, Mangaluru. He holds a degree in commerce, a postgraduate diploma in Konkani and five online diplomas from the Bible School, US, in Christian Theology.
I spoke to him about his life, his award and contribution to Konkani literature…
You have written thirty-three novels and other short stories in Konkani and yours is a major contribution to Konkani Literature. What was the main source of inspiration?
The Main source is my contact, my reading of literature, other than Konkani,viz, Kannada and mostly English. I grew up in an atmosphere, where everybody was literate, and read newspapers, periodicals and utilized most of the free time when available, to read. So the challenge for me was,if there are such beautiful things written in the English language, why don’t we have the same, or better in Konkani? That’s how and that is why I started writing.
Your novels and short stories are unique in itself. Can you highlight the importance of uniqueness in your works?
The simple answer is, I wanted to provide the Konkani reader with something different. Not the run of the mill stories of daughter in law, mother in law, father in law that hitherto peppered Konkani Literature. I wanted to give to Konkani literature something unique - for Konkani it could be unique, but these are things commonly happening in the society. That is how, my literature is unique. Issues of society are common but their reflection in Konkani is unique.
You are a member of the general council of SahityaAkedemi, executive director of Konkani Institute at St. Aloysius Institute and editor of research journal Amar Konkani. How do you manage to devote time for your creativity?
I am one of the few people, perhaps,who never say I don’t havethe time. Everybody has time if we they prioritize and allocate time for the duties assigned society or by nature.
Your articles appear in Konkani regional magazines and other magazines too. What is the role of Konkani literature in Indian Literature from your perspective?
When you say Indian Literature, it is a very very vast field. For example, there are twenty four approved languages in the eighth schedule of SahityaAkedemi, so you can imagine the quantum of literature generated annually. When you compare Konkani, at the moment, you can say that Konkani has reached a juncture where it is on par with the other twenty-four approved languages so much so that it and it could be chosen for an award. Once this award was announced, the award which I am going to receive at the end of this month questions have already come up about the language. Everybody is curious…. What is Konkani? Where is it spoken? What are its origins? What is the literature generated till now?Then the question of transliterations came up. I have already had enquiries to have Kale Bhangar translated into Hindi, English and I don’t know, which other language’slitterateurs may be interested in taking Konkani literature to their readers.
In your collection of short stories entitled “Chocolates”, how is Mangaluru depicted ?
Here one should be very clear to what a short story is! Short stories are not written on a particular place. A short story is depicts a slice of life. So, you can’t go searching for Mangalore culture in the short story collection. There could be one or two for example Bannakaddi which I wrote, which has been translated to Nagarias well as English. There perhaps we could see a picture of Mangaluru. Similarly, other stories may not depict Mangaluru. Each short story has got its own uniqueness. It is a capsule, which will take time for the readers mind to interpret the writer’s thoughts even as he / she gets involved with the character.
What more do you plan for Konkani literature?
The only thing I can say is I will just keep on writing that’s all. The thing is, literature means so many things. It covers drama, poetry, folklore. It is a very vast world for any language. So, I can’t have any plans for Konkani. The only thing that I can do, as you are asking other questions of uniqueness in my writing, I can just continue doing the same.
You have travelled a lot visiting Greece, Italy, Germany and many other countries, how different is the Indian culture and tradition from theirs ?
The question itself gives you an answer. When you say, Indian culture, you have already segregated the other countries. It’s a simple answer. Every country has got its own culture. Culture is not literature. Literature is the diary of a culture of any particular country. Why am I saying diary? The basic unit of any society or country is its human beings, be it Germany, Italy or France. The emotions that we have, the pain we have, the frustrations we have, they are all universal. For an example, if lady is going to give birth to a child, one cannot say the pain of delivery is much less or more in Russia or France, it varies in degrees, butthe basic word pain remains the same. You cannot say, their culture is good, mine is not good or mine is good theirs is not good. No, that is not going to help literature at all. But as you read literature, any literature, not necessarily only Konkaniyou are taken by hand by the writer, through a thought process, just like a diary does. If you read Shakespeare, the stories and tragedies of Shakespeare can happen in India also. The story of Romeo Juliet can definitely fit in among the youngsters here, you don’t need Shakespeare here to write Romeo and Juliet. Like that, how many versions of Romeo Juliet have come out?!. We are all human beings, our emotions are the same. Our soul is the same.