It was 27th March evening 5 PM, and I was sitting on stage along with great people like veteran journalist Shri MV Kamath, trustees of Dr. TMA Pai Foundation, Manipal, Dr. Vishvanah Pai Panandikar, eminent economist from Goa, Smt. Gita R Pai, a social activist from Mumbai, and Smt. Nutan Sakhardande, well-known konkani writer from Goa. Me along with other three were called to Manipal for honouring us with awards. Every year Dr. TMA Pai Foundation use to honour konkanis for outstanding contributions in different fields. This year they selected me as a writer. My first novel "Ayodhya", that presents sorrow, happiness, love and unity in a joint family. I felt proud. I started writing when I was 68. My family supported me. I started writing with short stories, and then moved to novels and poems.
March 27 is a milestone in my life. On 26th we reached Mangalore, stayed with my grand daughter Suma, her husband Rajesh and daughter Smera. I enjoyed the time with them. On 27th we reached Manipal an hour before the function. Organizers gave us room in the hotel. I relaxed for some time and went for the function. After tea and snacks the function started. The hall was full with about more than 250 people. I was very happy to have my niece Puja (my cousin brother Balkrishna's daughter from Delhi) for the function. She is a student in Manipal Institute of Technology. I had seen her when she was very young. She came and was with us throughout the function.
As it was my first time on a stage with such big people, I was having some tension. After the welcome speech, Dr. Panandikar was honoured. He gave excellent speech. Then Gita Pai was honoured. She too spoke very well in English. My tension became more and more. 3rd turn was mine. I was honoured by Shri MV Kamath, a well known editor of previous years.
After that I had to give a speech. I started in Konkani and once started, I became comfortable. Whatever I thought for saying, was already mentioned in the introduction. So I had to find different things to speak. Somehow I managed, and hope people liked it.
I got very relieved after the speech. Smt. Nutan from Goa also spoke in Konkani. I felt, I am not the odd person out. I very much liked the speech by Nutan, where she recited some parts of her poem "Password". Though Goa konkani is a bit different, I could understand well.
The organisers gave us dinner after the function. During dinner, we interacted with other awardees and organisers. Dr. Vishvanath Penendikar spoke to us a lot and appreciated that we still speak konkani at home, even after leaving Goa few hundred years ago. He spoke to my great grand daughter Smera and she answered his questions well. Smt Gita Pai told that she was born in Alleppy. She also spoke a lot with us about her social .work in Mumbai. Konkani writer Smt Nutan form Goa also spoke to us. She wanted to read my novel Ayodhya, but could not, as it was in Malayalam script. I told her that Goa Konkani Akademi is re-publishing the novel by changing into devnagari script. The trustees of Dr. TMA Pai Foundation also spoke to us and wished.
Overall, it was a memorable day for me. For a person born and brought in a village and with not much formal education, such once in lifetime occasions are really big. I consider it as a recognition for all the efforts that I had been putting in my writing. Finally, I remembered my father, who has sown the 'seed of writing' in my mind.
At this time, I thank Shri Payyannur Ramesh Pai and Shri Shivananda Shenoy from Kerala, who encouraged me to write in konkani and for appreciating my work. I also thank Shri Ananda Bhat of Vaishnava Ratn, who published the novel "Ayodhya". My thanks are also for Dr. Hareendra Sarma, who has taken initiative to get "Ayodhya" published in devnagari script through Goa Konkani Akademi.