Fr Carlos Luis SAC
Fr Myron Jeson Barreto, a prolific writer from Sadolxem, Canacona, was recently awarded the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar (2022) for his book Tallo (The Voice), a compilation of essays.
He is currently the manager of the New Age Printers, Verna, and pastorally serving at Jesus, Mary and Joseph Church, Nuvem.
Humbly accepting the award as a testament of his hard work in the field of Konkani literature, he says, “I am very thrilled and delighted to receive the award. I have worked fervently and selflessly to promote Konkani literature. And will continue to work with enthusiasm and dedication to promote it. This award has put on my shoulders more responsibility to work zealously to promote the Konkani language.”
His love for Konkani and the identity of being a Goan inspire him to write continuously. Fr Barreto has seven books to his credit.
They are Kannientlean Sondex, Oparintlean Sondex, Sukhi Jinn, Tallo, Bhorvanxeachem Kirnn and Porzollit Paulam. Only Tallo has been published in both Romi and Devnagri scripts.
Fr Barreto enthusiastically adds, “The desire to learn, instruct, guide, motivate and to proclaim the good news of the Lord further inspires me to write.” And hence he has written nine religious books titled Jezu Sangata Khasgi Vell, Jezuche Koxtt ani Amchi Soddvonn, Magnnem Tersachem, Boll Kuttumbachem, Soddvonnechi Vatt, Taronachi Vatt, Suttkechi Vatt, Kurpechi Vatt, Vatt Khursachi, Pavlam Bhavarthachim and Mogachi Vatt.
Fr Barreto is a regular contributor to Konkani bulletins, magazines and periodicals.
A member of the editorial board of the Dalgado Konkani Academy's Gõycho Pormoll magazine and the co-editor of the Goa Diocesan tri-monthly magazine Vomp'pi, he also dons the mantle of the editor of the Herald's Konkani page “Konknni Daiz”.
Amidst the pastoral work that Fr Barreto is engaged in, he is able to make the time to write. He vivaciously explains, “I have to. It is like breathing to me. It is essential for me to do the multitasking. Finding time to write is like finding an oxygen mask in a polluted city.”
Besides writing, he also presents articles and poems on All India Radio Air Mhadei, Panaji 1287 AM.
His consistent contribution to the Konkani language and literature has made him the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Dalgado Konkani Akademi Award (2018), Goa State Yuva Srujan Puraskar (2021) and Konkani Bhasha Mandal's Late Narsinha Damodar Naik Memorial Award for Literature (2021).
He has also won the Best Lyrics Award for two consecutive years, in 2020 and 2021, for Capuchin Voice de Goa, a Konkani song competition organised by the Capuchin friars.
Speaking about his award-winning book Tallo (The Voice), he says that the book highlights numerous societal voices. And each voice expresses how they feel about social issues that touch them personally.
Further stating, “We need to listen to each voice of society and the natural world. Tallo – the voice speaks, and we need to listen to it. Becoming a voice for the voiceless is our responsibility. There are many voices out there that are unheard. There are some voices to which we pay attention but don’t reflect or take action. It is our highest responsibility to amplify other people's voices and respect their feelings.”
As Fr Barreto writes, so he aims at instructing, guiding, motivating and inspiring people. Despite so many accolades, he remains grounded.
He says, “I praise God for giving me the capacity to work at a fast pace, completing all my responsibilities. I prioritise and dedicate myself to giving my best. I give time to all my responsibilities.”
Fr Barreto believes, “If you think in Konkani, you will be able to express yourself well. Thinking in Konkani will help you to understand the vocabulary better.”
He is currently working on a children’s literature book while planning to explore different Konkani literature genres.
For Fr Barreto, his greatest strength and support has been his personal prayer life. It is prayer that gives him the grace to move past difficult stages: juggling with time, lacking the finance to print, trying to make do with the opinion of others or the lack of readers for one’s literary work.
He likewise acknowledges the presence of Vincy Quadros, a notable writer who guides, inspires and encourages him to write more.
Reading, Fr Barreto believes, will open up the mind to acquire a better understanding of life and various issues. He declares, “Knowledge and wisdom is the greatest treasure that no one can rob or destroy.”
He further says, “Writing and publishing one’s work will help one to climb the ladder of success.”
The mantra that assists him in staying positive, is, “Learn and it will guide you in future; think and it will make your dreams come true; work zealously and you will be at peace and satisfied.”
(Carlos Luis is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and is currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)