An actor of traditional Hindu dramas meets an adolescent girl who turns out to be his half-sister. A man returns to Goa from Mozambique to father a child for a family whose unmarried daughters has produced no heirs. Another man feels out of place in his family home after returning from Portugal to get a university education, as a woman waits faithfully for him to return. A forbidden romance blooms between a Christian girl and a Hindu boy.
Through these stories, written with a mix of poignant nostalgia and sharp criticism, Vimala Devi recreates the colonial Goa of her childhood. First published in 1963, two years after the Portuguese colony became part of India, Monsoon is a cycle of twelve stories that vary in tone. By turns satirical, desolate, tender, humorous and dramatic, they come together through a subtle interplay of echoes, parallels and cross-references to form a composite picture of a world gone by. They delve into divisions of caste, religion, language and material privilege, setting them off against a common historical experience and deeply felt attachment to the land.
Translations of what might now consider Indian literature in Portuguese are few and far between. This rendition of Monsoon, which includes a critical and contextualizing introduction by Jason Keith Fernandes, allows contemporary readers a rare glimpse into a colonial society significantly different from the British Indian mainstream, filtered through a language and mindset that barely survives.