By John B Monteiro
Mangaluru, Apr 21: Joseph Menezes, perhaps the oldest in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, living in a rural hamlet at Magandadi House, Balkunje, about 45 Km from Mangaluru, passed away on April 20 after a brief illness and hospital discharge, with his family members around his bedside. His funeral is scheduled on April 22 with Mass at 11 AM in Balkunje church.
Joseph was born in the then composite parish of Kinnigoly to Diacus and Antonia (nee Pinto) Menezes on June 28, 1909 – fifth of eight children, three boys and five girls. He studied up to V St. in St. Paul Primary School. Living in a joint family on a 6-acre farm, Joseph married Lucy Cutinha from the same parish in 1927. Over the years he left the joint family household without facing the hassles and bitterness normally associated with family property partition. He managed the farm, situated in the same area, of his younger sister whose family was in the estate in the Ghats.
Meanwhile, the Menezes couple had five children – two of whom died in infancy. Joseph’s life was marked by a lack of ambition (or greed?) and competition as reflected in his decision not to bid for his part in the ancestral property through partition. Only when his son, Mark, had to marry in1979, did he mark out a 40-cent plot of land, owned by his sister, and built a cosy little tiled house with tiny utilitarian rooms. He planted, and tendedto, till the last six years, coconut trees on the plot. The yield from these trees has been enough to look after the frugal bare running expenses of the household, supplemented anything else through funding by his support network.
The Bible, in Psalms (XC 12), says: “The days of our years are three-score years and ten; if by reason of strength they be four-score years,... for it is soon cut off and we fly away.” So, clearly Joseph had outlived the Biblical age.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension.” George Burns, American comedian and writer (1896-1996).This, without further amplification for lack of space, is confirmed in the life of the late Joseph Menezes.