Sunday, 6 April 2008

We must carry our own burden

We must carry our own burden

Remigius de Souza

My Grandma
The decade and half, when Mai, my grandma, was on her last lap, and I was in my early formative years, when we were in close contact, was the most benevolent period for me. 

Mai and her daughter (my mother) were my first teachers, my first school, and it was the first chapter of the countrywide open book that is India; they remain with me forever. It was teaching by example – learning by experience – on the real ground (not in virtual reality).

My Mother

Though Mai taught me Catholic Doctrine (in Konkani – our mother tongue) as per the convention, she never talked about God, Heaven and Hell. Only three or four times, in ten years or so, she said to me, ‘Jesus carried his burden of suffering; ours is nothing before his. We must carry our own burden.’ 

Those were the trying times for her (there is no need make the details public). I had also heard this expression from other women of her genre and generation in our community. The community, spread over fifty miles, even in those days, was cohesive, but had started withering.

As I reflect now, this expression doesn’t suggest Jesus suffered for their salvation of the mankind i.e. to convert everyone to Christianity, which has been a loud propaganda by Holy Catholic Church for two thousand years.
(However, I met at least one priest, in Gujarat, who preached Gospel to the lowly who accepted the Faith and practiced it, but he refused to Baptise them, even on their earnest request, and of course for the ire of his superiors.)

The expression is similar to the indigenous custom of reconciliation initiated by the tribal of Papua New Guinea that they practiced on Easter. It is also similar to the great reverence for Sita Mai – the daughter of the Earth (more than and above Rama; he is almost treated with contempt) – expressed by the peasant women in parts of Maharashtra.

These and there are many examples that show independent thinking of the so-called masses beyond the Authority. Perhaps these lowly anonymous people must have been one of the factors that caused the great civilizations and empires to vanish; but the people prevail.

Some time ago I wrote a comment (see: Land and Peasants in Development in India) on reading an essay by Amartya Sen on ‘rice’. How would Mai respond if she were told the contents of Amartya’s discourse on rice? In our typical local manner and dialect, Mai would have said, ‘It is half-cooked rice.’

It is half-cocked rice

Any peasant would say that, then and now. They have been managing farming for their life time from their childhood; they have been managing it for last ten thousand years. Even today they shall manage it well if the invisible tentacles don’t gag them.

It is only now in the modern times the professional economists and scientists invent theories and technologies to cause subordination of large majority of people, at the hands of the visible invisible power mongers and profiteers, garbed in sugar-coated words of salvation of the mankind.

India, as projected by the rulers, Authority, the experts etc. is not the whole truth (as much as any Indians who may believe that it is all glamorous life for the people in the West), not that everyone believes them. In their projections they fail to do the fieldwork, the field study, the ground work. In crisis they look for some white angles will come to their rescue.

The people, the so called masses, the second class citizens, despite receiving the occasionally distributed doles and charities, do not trust them. The open proof is the successive coalition governments in India. Any coalition government, anywhere, is only a caretaker government until the next election, or a coup.
Remigius de Souza
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.


  1. The wisdom , by living example , priceless, was received by you from those wise women. You are lucky.

    I also understand the burden you carry, with your understanding, and the contrast that is visible in our daily lives, in the country.

    My humble namaste to you !

    1. Long gone they may be, they enriched me immensely, they are part of me. I never miss them by their physical absence. They gave me lessons in life-supporting skills, which never failed me in times of crisis.

      Unfortunately I have failed to repay them in doing so on my part. My blogs are chronicles for the posterity; that's only thing I can do now.

    2. My peasant mother studied three books. She brought us -- three of her four sons -- all by herself, just living on land (taken on rent) by her life-supporting skills. She and my grandam taught me by example, not by preaching. We, four, took higher education, in due time partly by self-supporting.

      Our elder brother was with Pa (who had meager income) in Mumbai.
      I prefer not to be personal though by mentioning such details.