Filomena’s Journeys: A Portrait of a Marriage, a Family and a Culture


Author: Maria Aurora Couto

9789382277040 | HB | pp. 314 | 2013 | Aleph Book Company

Filomena’s Journeys is a moving family memoir – a tribute to the author’s mother and a revealing examination of Goan society and culture.

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Filomena’s Journeys is the author’s moving tribute to her mother who held her world and that of her six siblings, together through long years of insecurity and hardship. It is also an often heart-breaking attempt to come to terms with the painful memories of her father.

In 1935, Filomena Borges, aged twenty-six, married for love and moved from her grandmother’s village, Raia, where she had arrived as an orphaned child, to one of Goa’s most prominent and fashionable towns of the time, Margão. This move, from rural peace and simplicity to urban buzz and formality, from a modest landowning family to one of formidable eminence, was to transform her life, but in ways she could not have imagined. Chico, the man who had charmed her with his wit and intelligence, turned out to be as troubled as he was passionate. An unusually gifted musician, he lacked the discipline and conviction to rise above the limitations of great but vanishing privilege that was the bane of Goa’s Catholic elite in the twentieth century. The frustration broke Chico and his decline threatened to destroy his family. Until Filomena took a leap into the unknown and moved with her young children to Dharwar, a town across the border, in Karnataka. Here, in unfamiliar surroundings, with no source of income apart from a share of the harvest from dwindling family lands back in Goa and rent from students whom she took in as lodgers, Filomena raised her seven children, shielding them from tragedy, and gave them the best opportunities to fashion secure futures for themselves. In her last years, when they were all settled, the period of her quiet triumph, she chose to live alone, sustained till the end by the qualities she had absorbed as a young girl from her grandmother: Pragmatism, Faith, Compassion, Love of family and a strong connection with the land and Goa’s ancient traditions.


Maria Aurora Couto







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Aleph Book Company





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About the Author

The author was born in Goa and studied in Dharwar and New Delhi (where she later taught English literature at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University). She is the author of the widely acclaimed Goa: A Daughter’s Story and Graham Greene: On the Frontier and has translated, from Portuguese, A.B. Braganza Pereira’s Etnografia da India Portuguesa. In 2010 she was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri for her contributions in literature and education. She lived in Aldona, a village in North Goa.


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