By Casey Monteiro
Know Goa through its stories. That's what the Chairperson of the Jury, Fundacao Oriente Short Story Competition 2021, Alexandre Moniz Barbosa, says in the introduction to the recently released anthology of short stories titled Still Waters, Short Stories from Goa.
Well-known author and journalist Barbosa, who bagged the first prize in the earlier edition of the biennial short story competition nearly a decade ago, further writes that the beaches are for the mere travellers, but for those tourists as well as residents, wanting to experience the real Goa, the best way would be to pick up a book written by local writers, that connect the reader with the culture of the land.
Still Waters, Short Stories from Goa is Fundacao Oriente's sixth anthology of short stories. Their earlier ones were Shell Windows (2012), Coconut Fronds (2014), Monsoon Winds (2016), Under the Mango Tree (2018) and Balcao Tales (2020).
THE WINNING ENTRIES
The biennial competition to select the best short stories was held in 2021, wherein entries were solicited in either of the four languages, namely, Konkani, English, Marathi and Portuguese. The contest was open to both amateurs and professional writers.
Well-known writers like Sheela Jaywant and Jessica Faleiro counted among the list of 23 shortlisted stories. There were a couple of entries from journos as well.
The winners threw up little known names in the literary firmament. A letter from Ms Miranda by Andrew John de Sousa bagged the first prize (Alban Couto prize). The story follows the protagonist to Australia where his latent pining for his beloved land of Goa is awakened by a letter he receives from his school teacher.
Water by Akhil Sawant, originally written in Marathi as Paani, was awarded the second prize. The story, which has elements of tragedy, exposes the prevailing caste bias that sets social boundaries among people.
Ermelinda Makkimane's Pascoal Returns, the third winning entry, delves into the mind of the main character who learns an uneasy truth about his mother.
Still Waters, Short Stories from Goa, published by Fundacao Oriente in collaboration with Goa 1556, begins with a memoriam to noted Goan author Dr Maria Aurora Couto (1937-2022).
Dr Couto known for her literary works such as Goa: A Daughter's Story, gave tremendous support to the start of the journey of the Fundacao Oriente short story anthologies and even instituted the first prize of the competition in memory of her late husband.
The stories have been edited by Anjali Dar Sengupta. The credit for the anthology's cover photo goes to Vince Costa while Pedro Pombo has designed the cover of the book. The cover reflects the quiet interior waters of Goa with each river bank side covered with lush green cover.
Still Waters, Short Stories from Goa is available at Fundacao Oriente (Panjim), The Dogears Bookshop (Margao) and Goa 1556 publishers (Saligao)