To many in Goa, the name Mario Cabral e Sa will evoke memories of reading scathing news reports, articles and columns in various publications in the state and elsewhere. He was a journalist, that’s what people remember him for.
But he was also a writer; to many other journalists, a mentor; and to politicians, a thorn in their sides, who spared no one in his journalistic quest for the truth.
Cabral e Sa is no longer with us today. On Saturday, his ashes were interred in the cemetery in Divar, the village he came from and called home, in the presence of those whose lives he touched.
Paul Fernandes, Journalist
Journalist Paul Fernandes has a word of praise for Cabral e Sa. “I used to read his column when I was in West Coast Times and also his reports. The columns especially were written in a very interesting style,” Paul recalled.
But it was not just reading what Cabral e Sa wrote that Paul remembers today.
“In the pressroom, he would appreciate anybody doing an offbeat story and would be disappointed when something unusual happened and he found journalists seated in the pressroom without following it up,” Paul said and recalled a murder in Varca where Cabral e Sa entered the pressroom and advised them to go and follow it up on the spot, getting more details, rather than sitting in the pressroom.
He also recalled when Cabral e Sa advised him on a story.
“When I was in GT (Gomantak Times), I had done a series on forgotten people, like the OBCs. It was the mid-nineties. There was much interest in the OBCs, and there was a move by the government to declare some castes as OBCs. He was very appreciative of that series and even gave me some tips on who to meet,” Paul said.
As a journalist as well as a writer, he took his research seriously. Dr Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues interacted with him quite frequently at the Central Library. She had already read his writings long before she met him in the library .
“I have known Mario Cabral e Sá as a journalist since my teens when I used to read his witty and amusing columns, and later, as editor of The Goa Monitor and columnist for The Navhind Times with his View from Mandovi,” she said.
Dr Lourdes recalled, “I was associated with him directly when I joined the State Central Library in 1981. Mario was a regular visitor to the Rare Books and Local History section, of which I was in charge. He made it a point to read and research his writing topics and expected that I should give a good number of books and references."
She continued, "I think he was happy with me, and mind you, a very difficult person to please, because we worked together on some of his projects and continued in cordial relations until he left Goa because of his health.”
Fellow islander of Divar Tomas Rodrigues recalled Cabral e Sa being a staunch Divadkar. “He never wanted to leave Divar. Seated in his house, he would tell me, ‘This is my kingdom,’” Tomas said.
He added that Cabral e Sa actively participated in village affairs and events, making it a point to attend football matches in the village, bringing along his family to watch them.
“There was a time when the football matches led to major disagreements, and it was he who mediated to bring about an understanding among the teams,” Tomas said.
Tomas, a documentary filmmaker, recalled that Cabral e Sa was quite involved and gave several inputs in the making of the documentary film Delightful Divar, directed by Tomas.
“I used to visit him often in the early morning, before going to work, and invariably the television would be tuned in to the BBC channel,” said Tomas. That is how Cabral e Sa, the veteran journalist, would start his day, catching up with the news around the world.
Goa has bid adieu to a journalist and writer whose writings stirred many a hornet’s nest. He was never afraid to speak the truth, even if it was unpalatable to some. He will be missed.