Books are normally written by one or at the two most by two authors. But this book you will read about today is truly a family effort, stretching across generations and across geographies. A unique book, authored by a unique family, having roots in Goa as well as Bandra, this book is a joy to read. So let’s look at this amazing effort in detail.
Could you please, in your own words, tell our readers a about The Merry Tongue?
It’s a labour of love really. It is a true life story. It’s a very light read in a conversational, narrative style, set in Bombay from the 1940’s onwards with vintage B&W photographs, descriptive sketches & reflections woven into it that is sure to take readers down memory lane, offering nostalgic anecdotes that will rekindle their love for the simple joys of growing up as a Goan immigrant in this vibrant city of yore.
It’s a homely, heart-warming, memoir featuring stories on love and romance, marriage, shippy and nomadic adventures, the pros of moving to Bandra, the ups and downs with a special emphasis on dealing with the loss of a loved one through simplistic faith, trust and surrender. Though it’s from a Christian woman’s perspective, the experiences & emotions shared are universal & relatable. It’s a story of gradual metamorphosis; of spiritual evolution and growth. The book is filled with inspirational testimonies of miracles and signs from above that uplifted the protagonist Milly Pereira, who has served as a teacher and now a counsellor at St. Stanislaus School, Bandra for almost 29 years, transforming her from a shy introvert to an emboldened woman of strength. It will fill you with a sense of awe and make you believe again that miracles happen even today & that there are simply no coincidences.
What are the challenges you faced in writing this book?
Writing this book in first person yet sharing the thoughts, insights and reflections of my mother was challenging as I wanted her opinions, emotions and learnings to be reflected as authentically as possible yet be able to amalgamate my own voice and after thoughts in each chapter without losing the essence and personality of the main protagonist. For a large part of the book, I was relying on my memory of first hand testimonies I witnessed or that were related to me over the years. The first edition of ‘The Merry Tongue’ was a surprise gift for my mum for her landmark 70th birthday in 2015. I had completed only half the book and it was lying incomplete all those years. One month prior to the date I rushed to have the latter half completed just in the nick of time. She was simply astounded when she unveiled her gift and saw her name in print on the cover. It truly was the best birthday gift she had ever received and it brought tears of joy to her eyes. Quite a few expressed interest to read the book so we have since edited it for publication. I ventured into self-publishing. It has been yet another challenge; learning the ropes of the publishing world from scratch. I must say indie authors are changing the face of publishing and disrupting the norms in a good way. You certainly don’t have to wait around for a traditional publisher and you can now feel empowered to get your book out there in perhaps a shorter time frame, with equal if not a wider reach and what’s better is that you’re in full control and that to me is what was the most gratifying and fulfilling.
How do you foresee this book as a film, and who would you like having to play the main role?
Wow! The very thought of this question makes me happy – I’d simply love for The Merry Tongue to be made into a film. That’d be simply awesome! That would mean reaching an even wider audience and the stories truly coming alive on the big screen. I could see some of the miraculous signs and testimonies of faith inspiring viewers especially women. It has all the makings of a movie – a strong protagonist, depictions of the past, adventures at sea, love and romance, twists and turns, tragedy & inspirational accounts of strength. I’d love for my Sister Rozzlin (YouTuber portraying the popular Bandra Aunty Maggy and Milly) to play the main role. She certainly looks a lot like mum when she was young and who better than her own flesh and blood to play the lead. She’d know and feel the part and emotions like no other.
What do you think is so distinctive and appealing about Goan life that it attracts so many people from around the globe?
The Merry Tongue has beautiful descriptions of our homeland Goa, its cuisine, culture, susegaad people, its landscapes and beaches and the relaxed lifestyle it offers. I think Goa is the perfect getaway from the hectic city life. It’s like time stands still and you’re able to reconnect with a dormant side of you that never surfaces otherwise. It’s idyllic, picturesque, warm and peaceful. People from across the globe love it because it offers everything you look for in a holiday and there’s something for everyone – white sandy beaches, sun, good food, night life, music, serenity, peace, history, culture, tradition & very friendly and warm local people.
What would you say are the similarities and differences between Bandra life and Goan life, considering that you have experienced them both?
Bandra has changed a lot in recent times but when I left Bandra in 2006 it was still fabulous. It hasn’t earned the title of Queen of the Suburbs for nothing you know! It has the best kept promenades facing the coastline & offers quaint eclectic experiences with by lanes, bazaar roads & the few cottages left still reminding us of the glory days & connecting us back to our roots in Goa. It has Jazz festivals & Zonal singing competitions & an unmatched vibrancy & buzz that’s impossible to replicate elsewhere. The same way Goa has that special something that draws people back time & again – Once a Bandraite always one forever. You can take a Bandraite out of Bandra but you’ll never be able to take Bandra out of a Bandraite and the same goes for Goans who’ve experienced the charm of Goa. Our community adds to the cultural ethos of both places and gives it that typical appeal.
Could you please enumerate one incident from this book which you feel could be termed its defining feature?
The moment of loss is indeed the most gripping incident in The Merry Tongue & the overwhelming positivity, faith and ultimate surrender that ensues with miracles & signs from above that uplift the grief stricken protagonist from the depths of sorrow and anguish, renewing and transforming her from a nondescript, tongue-tied introverted grounded ‘caterpillar’ to a Merry Tongued ‘butterfly’ with vibrant wings to fly forth is the book’s defining feature. It reinforces that with faith, trust and a strong belief we can indeed move mountains and that we are all just instruments waiting to be tuned so that the almighty ‘maestro’ can play his masterpiece through us. This is the message of the book.