He was waiting to celebrate his 107th birthday which was just 3 months away. According to his daughter, he believed that he would live forever young, and perhaps that is what kept him alive and healthy for so long but as per the law of nature, the one who comes into this world has to leave one day. “He never believed he would die”, his daughter Ameeta told the media, “He believed he would live forever and would remain young forever,” she said.
History is replete with great men and women who live exemplary lives and leave behind them a legacy. One of such living legends of Goa, Lambert Mascarenhas passed on this Sunday, 27th June at the ripe old age of 106, just 3 months shy of turning 107. His funeral took place on the morning of the 28th of June at the Taleigao Cemetery.
It is a sad moment indeed for we have lost a great soul. One of the most famous crusading journalists of his time. Born in 1914 in a Portuguese-ruled Goa, the great man was also a true patriot and was instrumental in the freedom struggle of Goa. No surprise then, that he authored the Goan Tribune which was dedicated to the cause of Goan liberation.
As part of his endeavors towards liberation, he wrote a number of controversial and passionate articles on the theme which got him arrested and sentenced to prison when he was once on a visit to Goa. He was then bailed out and expelled from Goa, this is when he fled back to Mumbai and carried on his career in journalism.
Born in Goa, Mascarhenas spent his early life and completed his education in Pune, and later at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, erstwhile Bombay. He didn’t follow in the footsteps of his father, a doctor, but graduated in English literature.
There, he started his career as a journalist working for the Morning Standard in Mumbai. He later went on to work as sub-editor at the Bombay Sentinel and assistant-editor at Onlooker. Upon his return to a liberated Goa in 1961, he joined various Goan publications. Starting off as editor at Navhind Times before finally establishing and editing Goa Today.
His love for his motherland is endearing and inspiring. In fact, there is a rather amusing story related to his days as a freedom fighter. Such was his dedication to the cause and love for his land, that he had vowed not to get married until Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule! And true to his words, he married Dr. Jolly Mascarenhas exactly 10 days after Goa was liberated on 19th December 1961.
He is survived by his wife, four children, many grandchildren, and also his great-grandchildren. A doting family man, he lived a full life and was known to be adored by his entire family. He was fit as a fiddle to the extent that he used to even drive his own car well into his 90s. “He used to say he will never die, and stay young forever,” said his daughter Ameeta.
Talking about her father’s principled character, his daughter Nayantara told Herald, “He was never afraid to tell the political party of the time what he felt, and never cared for the repercussions. Politicians told us he was never scared, and they respected him for that,” adding that, “he was allowed the freedom to say what he wanted to a certain degree. When he couldn’t, he left and started his own magazine, Goa Today. He was very proud of it and he could voice his opinion to Goans all over the world.”
A truly creative person, he has written several works of function during his lifetime. The most successful and noteworthy of his works being the novel Sorrowing Lies My Land. published in 1955, it was based on the anti-Portuguese movement launched by Indian politician and freedom fighter Ram Manohar Lohia in Margao in 1946. His other works include The First City, In The Womb of Saudade, The Greater Tragedy, and Heartbreak Passage.
A man of many talents and motivations, he played several roles in his lifetime, excelling at each one of them and winning many accolades. He was awarded the Laxmidas Borkar Memorial Award for journalism in 2004. He was also bestowed Goa’s highest civilian award, the Gomant Vibhushan. In 2015, he was also awarded the Padma Shri, which is the fourth-highest civilian award of India. He made his mark on the country, and with that also embossed the name of Goa onto the hearts and minds of the people.
This truly inspiring and great man was known to have a multi-faceted personality, always living to the fullest and very pioneering by nature. An adventurer at heart, he was known to love traveling, apart from being a grounded family man. Although it is a great loss for us as Goans, the very richness and message of his life dictates that we celebrate his principles, accomplishments and carry forward his legacy of commitment to the cause of freedom, justice, and initiative.