Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Grandest Reception Ever - A Goan Valentine story

The Grandest Reception Ever - A Goan Valentine story

Freely adapted by Cecil Pinto
from an original short story in Konkani
by Ben Antao

Magdalene was putting the just washed clothes out to
dry in the backyard when she heard the doorbell ring.
The dogs started barking simultaneously.
"Who could it be?", she wondered as she put down the
bucket. They hardly got any visitors these days.
Rather than go right through the house Magdalene went
around it, through the garden, and saw a smartly
dressed young man at the front door with an envelope
in his hand. In front of the gate was parked a Maruti
Van with the driver checking his watch anxiously.
The young man was about to ring the doorbell again.

"Hello, who do you want?" hailed Magdalene, quite sure
that they had the wrong address.

"Is this the house of Magdalene Mascarenhas?"

"Uhh. Yes. Are you sure you have the name right?"
asked Magdalene.

"Yes ma'am. It says here Magdalene Mascarenhas, near
St. Anthony's Chapel, Madel, Tivim."

"You sure it's Magdalene. And not Margaret?" she
asked. Ever since that hot shot writer Margaret
Mascarenhas had moved in next door there were always
couriers delivering things to Magdalene's house by

"Ma'am, are you Magdalene?", asked the young man,
obviously quite frustrated by now.

"Yes I am."

"Who's that Maggie?" asked Magdalene's mother as she
opened the door from inside. She had been busy in the
kitchen. Magdalene's father would come back from his
weekly trip to the Mapusa Friday market and want his
fish-curry-rice steaming hot exactly at noon. Of
course he would have had a couple of pegs with his
cronies at the market before that. Ever since he took
voluntary retirement from his bank job he seemed at a
loose end.

"Ma'am. We've come from EXPRESSIONS, the flower shop
in Panjim. We have a flower delivery for you", saying
this the young man went to the Maruti Van parked
outside and returned with a massive flower arrangement
of red roses, all done up in a beautiful heart shape.
And the driver came along with a huge card. "

"But are you sure.." stammered Magdalene.

"Must be from Robert dear. From Saudi ", said
Magdalene's mother.


"Maam, could you sign here please", said the young man
as he proffered the delivery challan book.

Magdelen blushed a bright red. Her mother was most
amused by the situation.
" Don't make an act Magdalene. Sign the challan so
they can go about their other deliveries. Today's
Valentine Day so they must be having a very busy
schedule. "

Magdalene had tears in her eyes as she signed the
book. Her mind wandered to February 14th last year.
She had met Robert for tea upstairs at Satkar
Restaurant in Panjim, in the AC section...


"Don't worry darling everything will be fine", Robert
said. " I leave tomorrow and Uncle Domnick will
accompany me till Bombay and onways to the flight. And
then Forsu Uncle will pick me up at Riyadh. I will be
staying with him for a few days till my company
accomodation is fixed."

"But Robert, you've never been out of the county
before. You've never even flown on a plane before. Are
you sure everything will go well."

"Don't worry dear, I will come back in a year and make
you the proudest young bride in the whole of Tivim."

Robert and Magdalene had been dating from the time
they met teaching Cathecism to the young children at
St. Anne's Church. That was at least five years back.
Magdalene's mother liked Robert, as did all the
folk. Robert was the nice boy who always participated
in all the Parish functions and was always the first
to lend a helping hand to any of his neighbours. He
worked as truck driver for Coca Cola at their Chimbel
Earned a decent salary. His father had died when
Robert was young. Robert's mother had raised him well,

Magdelena's father did not quite disapprove of the
match but nor was he against it. He was just a bit
apprehensive of the wedding expenses. "You know how
much the catering costs these days? How is he going to
pay for the reception on his driver's salary. How much
does he earn? Am I supposed to pay for the entire
reception. What am I? A bank?". The fear of a far away
reception was always on his mind.

"But Daddy, we need not have a reception", Magdalene
always used to plead.
But her father would have none of it. "What will the
neighbors say?", he used to sigh.

As they sipped what would be their last tea together
in a long while Robert stroked Magdalena's hair and
said "Darling I will come back in just one year and we
will have the grandest reception the village has ever
seen. And then I will take you back with me to Saudi."

The next day Robert left. Every week on Friday he
would phone her up from Saudi Arabia and tell her what
was happening. He worked and he worked and he worked.
Overtime, double shifts... whatever work he could lay
his hand on. His boss liked his attitude and made sure
he was busy and compensated him well. On Fridays when
all his colleagues were busy partying, Robert would be
washing their clothes and ironing and whatever. They
too would pay him well. Everyone knew what he was
working towards. The grand reception. And everybody
encouraged and supported him. Not with handouts - but
with well paid work.

"Robert stop killing yourself. We don't have to get
married so soon. How much money can you possibly make
in just one year", Magdalene used to say to him when
he phoned.

"You are not going to believe it dear. Right now I
make more in a month than Forsu Uncle who has been
here for twenty years. I will keep my promise to you.
Our wedding will be the grandest the village has ever
seen. My Magdalene was always the best looking girl.
Now she will be the richest one too!" said Roberto.

A tear slipped down Magdalene's cheek onto the
delivery challan, bringing her to the present.


"Maam? Are you feeling ok maam?"

"Don't worry", Magdalene's mother assured the young
delivery boy.
"She always gets like this when she thinks of Roberto.
Those are tears of joy young man. Hush, Magdalene
baby, stop that sobbing. "

Just then the phone started ringing in the house.
Magdelene rushed to pick it up.
Today was Valentine's Day. But today was also Friday.
It was 10 a.m.
Robert always called at this time.

"Hello, Robert? Robert! Thank you darling. No I'm not
crying. Ok I am crying. What! On the 20th. Stop joking
Robert. Maaameeeee! Robert's coming on the 20th. Oh
Robert darling..."

(Please forward this story to any person you know who
loves someone in Goa)

Greet your loved ones in Goa with flowers!

EXPRESSIONS - The Flower Shop
World famous all over Goa!

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