Tuesday, July 18, 2017

POSKEM - Goa’s Unspoken Children Of The Shadows

"Butterflies and bats flying at furious pace in my stomach" - Wendell Rodricks

A few thoughts behind Poskem. I promised Rosa this book. It stayed in my mind that I should write a book. This is my first fiction book. 

It took me about a year to form the characters in my mind. There were also two sticky areas that unnerved me. The intimate scenes essential to the book and the magic realism that I wanted in this dark book. I managed to hurdle over both eventually.

I wrote the book rather quickly. Passed it through a few friends for a reaction, edits & so on. Mario Miranda's illustrations, generously provided by Habiba Miranda and sourced from Gerard D'Cunha, filled in the gap of the non-description needed by the book. They enhanced the narrative perfectly. We now had the book and the illustrations laid out with blurbs from the contributors, and after three more edits, I signed off the book. Jerome ran through the book after printing and found six misspellings.

After 'sign off', preorders were pitched to Amazon.

Waited for a month when the book was finally in my hand. I held it in my hand with the emotion that only writers know. It looked beautiful. My baby Poskem arrived to a doting Dad.

With his novel 'Poskem - Goans in the Shadows', Wendell Rodricks has brought the tradition from the shadows of the background to under the limelight. 

Of these children, Goa had its fair share, to the extent that a well closeted tradition called poskim evolved around them. Almost all the incidents in the novel are based on true stories he heard from his mother and relatives, he says. 

Talking about the catalyst behind the book, Rosa, a poskem who lived across the street from Rodricks in Colvale, he says, "She looked after a big house and always appeared dejected and alone. We would often talk about food." 

The writing is fluid and engaging and gently takes you deep inside Goa in a way which as a beach shack loving tourist you might not have had. It uses a fictional tone to talk about Goan history and culture without making it sound like a lecture. And there is lots of food talk for food lovers in it and this is woven in seamlessly into the narrative. Wendell's love for Goa comes through in every sentence.

The book is based on the tradition of children from poorer backgrounds who would be taken into affluent Goan families and the many shapes this relation would take. Such children were called Poskem.

If you read the book, you will realise why Poskem
- Kalyan Karmakar -

This book is unlike anything I had read earlier, had no prior knowledge about this issue. It was an education to start with. Mario Miranda's funny illustrations and the double-spaced typeface give you a feeling that this is going to be a fun ride as a perfect read for a rainy afternoon.

Banish the thought, for what unfolds here will jolt you. Did these incidents actually happen? Apparently they did! Was it a well-kept secret outside Goa? Seems so, And those recipes coming at you every now and then, while the characters are going through personal hell? Makes you wonder; What genre is this? Is it a cook book with some dark local stories thrown in ? No. Is it a coffee table book about old Goa with some local recipes thrown in? No. It is a look inside a dark past and what you see isn't pretty at all. As the writer calls it, "a shameful practice".

Wendell Rodricks, this is a terrific piece of story-telling... demonstrates your usual encyclopedic knowledge of customs, practices, events and people, not to forget the culinary & language / narrative skills that you obviously possess in great measure!. Such a pleasure reading this one. "More strength to you", W ! -
Manohar Duvvuri

"The next generation may not know about the poskim. I don't want to blame people for having them. It was something that happened in the past. Sometimes history can be a shameful thing. This is part of Goan history. It's not that it didn't happen. I wrote the book to ensure that these secrets are not consigned to the forgotten secrets of Goans," says WR.

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