Cupid Strikes in Multi-Avatars

Aug 16, 2017

"This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid:
Regent of the love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents...

- Shakespeare in Love’s Labour Lost

I lost my love’s labour when my beloved wife of 48 years passed away unexpectedly and without a goodbye in the ICU of A J Hospital on August 11, 2017. That takes me back to the day Cupid struck us with his arrow in the city paved with gold – Bombay – or rather in a railway compartment that sucks in and spews out thousands of commuters.

I was without a job and footloose, hoping that things would turn out right at the next turn. The poet says that hope lives eternal in the human breast. But one has to do the footwork to reach the next right turn. It was in such a quest that I would visit kind acquaintances, with the hope that someone would lead me to a job. One such was Dr Aloysius (Louie) David Monteiro, no kin then despite the common surname, elder brother to Nobbie, my classmate at St Aloysius. He had his Tata executive housing flat in Andheri, and I often went there to be served a decent meal – though the rail fare made a dent in my depleting resources.

And Louie had a farm at Kamshet, two stations ahead of the hill station of Lonavala. One Sunday, on a whim, I landed at his farm house, and Lynette, a chit of a girl, was there with her elder sister May, Louie’s wife. They had decided on a longish stay at the farm and were worried about Lynette reaching Bombay in time to get to work on Monday for ACC at its headquarters near Churchgate. I turned out to be their saving knight without armour. I offered to escort her to Bombay.

Lynette Monteiro

John and Lynette Monteiro

Those were the days of shortages and rationing. So Louie sent Lynette back with 10 kilos of rice from his farm as she travelled on the Poona-Bombay train. She tucked the rice bag under her seat while I slept on the upper berth. Soon, a raiding party entered the compartment and zeroed in on the rice bag. They asked about the ownership of the rice bag. Lynette was dumb with fear. I could see the tears streaming down her innocent cheeks. At this juncture, I claimed ownership of the bag and the raiders asked for my name and address – and also about the contraband.

Though I had no job, I had had calling cards printed describing me as a “freelance journalist”. The word “freelance” might have stumped the half-literate raiders, but “journalist” rang a bell, and they left the rice bag – and us – alone.
I felt like a hero for saving a poor damsel in distress. Though I was travelling to Victoria Terminus, I made sure that Lynette alighted at Dadar Central, and caught a train for Andheri at Dadar Western.

As day follows night, shortly, Louie raised the question of an alliance. My first question was: “Has she finished her Matric?”. On being assured that she was a BSC from St Agnes, the next question was about her frail build. Again Louie reassured me with a Konkani adage: “Kelmbache mulak udak podtana, kelmbo fultha and gaday galunk thayar zata (When you water the banana plant, it flourishes (fills up) and gets ready to yield stems of plantains). The double entendre of this statement didn’t fully register then, but, in time, we were blessed with two loving and caring children – Primrose (Prima) and Mohan, who, by their professional achievements, have made us proud.

Hilary and Carmine Monteiro

Lynette’s and my Cupid-struck story is not the first in the family; my parents started the story in a rural setting. My mother, Carmine, lived in Kopla, a village in Bellore Parish, while my father, Hilary, lived across a bullock card road and hill in Thodambil village of Bantwal (Modankap) parish. How Cupid brought them together is a fading memory kept alive by me in my writings.

My mother’s household grew giant pumpkins, which were the pride of Kopla village and the envy of Thodambil village. My father’s family tried to woo my mother’s family to part with some seeds of the giant pumpkins with no success. For it was believed that, if you gave away the seeds, it would ruin the chances of the original owners reaping any more giant pumpkins.

Enter a mischievous uncle of my father on the scene. He secretly met my teenaged mother on her turf and conspired with her to put the seeds of the giant pumpkin into the hollow of a tree in the forest between the two villages. On the Thodambil village end, Hilary’s uncle deployed him to go and collect the seeds from the hollow of the tree. The timing of delivering the seeds and the arrival of young Hilary mysteriously coincided. One thing led to another and Carmine and Hilary marched to the altar, united by giant pumpkin seeds.

There is more to that but all good things, including Cupid’s arrows in its varied avatars, should end for the present. But, once again, to conclude with Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet:

“Good-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.”


By John B Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Fri, Aug 25 2017

    Dear Naveen: Your letter provoked a torrent of memories and before this special article fades away into Daiji archives, I am offering one last shot if Daiji Editors would oblige.
    I fondly remember the close bonds between the Frank family, originally of Loretto, and my father, Hilary. The Franks have done Loretto proud with two of their sons, Silab and Babuab,your dad, breaking their rural shackles and carving an enviable niche for themselves in Mangalore.
    Silab was Physical Director and English tutor at St. Aloysius College and doyen of Sports Organisers in South Kanara and Babuab, also a part-time lecturer in Commercial Law for MCom at St. Aloysius and leading lawyer and Government pleader, a prestigious post then.
    You mentioned that my youngest brother Charlie was sheltered in your home while he did his PUC at St. Aloysius. I had also enjoyed the hospitality of your home, in the shadow of Lighthouse, with your mom and paternal and maternal grandmas feeding me home-cooked bounty whenever I sneaked out of the college hostel. Ditto at Silab’s College Garden house where Pressibai extended her motherly care and hospitality.
    In return, my father used to host an annual picnic at our farm for Silab and your dad who brought along our landlord, Ramesh Rao, a lawyer, and Charles Lobo, the erudite Principal of Government College.
    Silab was my first contact in St Aloysius, as I landed with my father, for my Intermediate admission, walking 16 KM from our house to Padil – carrying a steel trunk (today’s suitcase)on the head - from where we caught a city bus to Hampankatta. Silab had many portfolios, including as warden of Koorgi Hostel, housed in what was then called Chettur’s Bungalow. – he being the principal of Government College and a classmate of Rabindranath Tagore at Cambridge or Oxford who came to the college and a hall is named after him. That bungalow was later demolished and Fr. Sylvester Monteiro built a hall (at the entrance of the main dwara of the college)

  • Naveen Frank, SHARJAH UAE

    Thu, Aug 24 2017

    Dear John,

    If I knew that my visit to your home in Bondel was my last adieu to Lynette, I would have given her an even tighter goodbye hug. Much like everybody else, I was rudely shocked to hear of the sudden passing away of Lynette. Although I am much junior to you in age, your beautiful article brought nostalgic memories of the close relationship of the Frank family and the Monteiros. Your father was a highly respected man and was very close to my father Vokil Frank and my Uncle Shila Frank. Your youngest brother the Late Charlie lived with us in Mangalore while he was pursuing his PUC studies at St Aloysius. What I will never forget as a child was the MUDE stock ( raw rice packed in hay ) that your father used to send to us from your Bantwal home.

    Interestingly, after my marriage ,Lynette’s family also became close to me as her sister Joan was married to my wife’s cousin the late Richie Fernandes.

    Let us celebrate the beautiful life of Lynette rather than mourn her going away. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 23 2017

    Thank you all – once again
    Since I do not know the email addresses of some late respondents, I am using the Daiji platform to respond.
    Dr. Mohan Prabhu:
    You are right in your surmises. Nobby was my classmate at St. Aloysius in 1954-58.Dr Aloysius Monteiro is my Sadu now. Fr. Sylvester Monteiro was my Principal when I was a lecturer at St. Aloysius-1960-1. Stany Monteiro passed away over three years ago and his widow, Flory, lives alone in their mansion Stanflor in Bondel, next to which I have constructed our Johnlyn Cottage where I now live alone- my daughter and son being professionally employed in Bombay.
    I have closely followed and delighted in reading your sensible, encouraging and positive responses on my articles in Daiji. Thank you. If you visit Mangalore, it would be a delight to meet you.
    Mr. Joe Gonsalves:
    You are my hero as you involveyourselff in civic issues like initiating honorary road safety squads at your advanced age. More power to you, Sir. Lynette and I missed your wife at the 4.30 Mass at Milagres where she occupied the front pew before she became house-bound
    Mr Jimmy Noronha:
    I have been closely following your interesting writings in Daiji. Your ever-smiling, gentle dad, Rayyab, was an institution in Bellore where I used to attend the church and school.

  • Dr Mohan Prabhu, LL.D, QC, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Wed, Aug 23 2017

    Dear John,
    This is a deeply touching article, a valiant goodbye to your dearly beloved. I think I did condole you as soon as I read the announcement a few weeks ago, thinking it was you who lost your wife, though I was not quite sure.

    I am also wondering if you knew my very close friend Nobby Monteiro, brother of Dr. Loui Monteiro (once my classmate in SAC) who died in Ottawa 27 years ago and his eldest brother Rev Sila Monteiro who was a scholastic those days (1945-47), later principal, rector and provincial. I have several Konkani books written by him which he had given me just a year so before he died. If I do remember, in one of your articles you had mentioned that you were related but only through your spouses. Am I right? I also met an older brother of Loui on a plane from Mumbai to Mangalore, years ago; he told me he was late Nobb's brother and lived in Bondel. I think he has since passed away.

  • Joe Gonsalves, Mangalore

    Tue, Aug 22 2017

    Dear John,

    As I am writing this note, I recall you and Lynette at Milagris Church attending Saturday service at 4.30. p.m. and now I read with great regret the demise of Lynette. I am writing this short note to offer you my most sincere sympathies. I can well imagine the deep sea of sorrow you are engulfed in. My mere words may be poor consolation to you and therefore may our Lord the supreme consoler be your solace in your bereavement. Tomorrow I shall offer The Mass for the dear departed soul.

    I am presently in Ohio, U.S.A. and therefore unable to offer you my sympathies personally.

    Joe Gonsalves

  • Roma Dsa, Bangalore/New Jersey

    Sun, Aug 20 2017

    Johnny Boy I am sad about you losing your lady love glad you made her immortal with this write up of love she must be so thrilled

  • Jimmy Noronha, Lucknow

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved wife. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. Now that I too belong to Bellore and having known almost the entire of your side of the family and also that of your mother’s with several of her brothers I am quite taken up by your very interesting Cupid killing saga. Please allow me to let you know that even my late Bellorian father(whom you know well), and then I, and my three children too have gone the way spearheaded by your late Dad, Mr. Hillary Monteiro where Cupid has a pivotal role to play!!

  • John B Monteiro, Bondel Mangaluru

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    Dear all: Thank you for your encouraging comments on my article. For those who don't know me well, I assure that it is not a shot of levity in the midst of loss and grief. It is an exercise in letting off pent up steam of sorrow. Thank you for your response.
    Special thanks to daijiworld for offering me its valued platform on priority.

  • Ivan Saldanha-Shet, Mangalore Rosario.

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    Dear John Bab, Your tribute to your 'Juliet' is superb and spells out the true deep LOVE you both had for each other. Probably personally will never have this experience; but, your affection is palpable to all your admirers and readers. Indeed the skills and warmth of heart bestowed on you is extended to your dear one. Good Wishes. Be consoled that we all depart from here and the Good Lord is nothing but good. He accompanies you in the times ahead. Regards -ijss.

  • Fr William Menezes, Bishop's House,Mangalore

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    Dear J B Monteiro, very touching and heart melting love stories which you have described very beautifully. At the same time the inexpressive sadness arises from your heart due to the untimely demise of your love partner echoes in my ears.... Heartfelt condolences to you. Soooory I could not be present for the funeral Mass as I was away but certainly I prayed for the repose of the departed soul.May the Lord strengthen you as you pass through the difficult times..this is my prayer for you.

  • Pauline Baretto, Karambar, Bajpe, Mangalore-574142.

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    May her soul rest in peace

  • Merlyn R Brito, Orlando

    Fri, Aug 18 2017

    Cathartic piece of writing - reliving fond & treasured memories.
    Thank you for sharing these details because they made interesting reading. I hope you will continue to delve into your trove of precious memories and enlighten your readers.
    Merlyn Brito

  • Dr Urban DSouza, Udyavar/Malaysia

    Thu, Aug 17 2017

    You are an inspiration to all and your cupid avatar is an exemplary example to all couple. Regards

  • Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle

    Thu, Aug 17 2017

    Dear John, extremely sorry to know about the passing away of your beloved spouse. May Almighty God grant her eternal rest. In spite of the sorrow in your heart you have beautifully written the circumstances under which you had met and eventually married her. The anecdote about your parents' meeting is also quite interesting. Keep up your literary and social work. May Almighty God grant you good health, comfort and happiness.

  • Simon Lobo, Florida, USA

    Thu, Aug 17 2017

    Dear John,

    So sorry to hear about passing away Lynette. We pray that Lynette's soul rest in peace.

    I have been to your house in Bondel, while visiting your neighbor friend, also Monteiro's. I watched late Uncle Stan, Florin Aunty, and you both playing cards for an hour or so. There was so much love and affection that I observed and was happy to see interactions and choice very positive and powerful words in your conversation. You also been very instrumental in Laughing Club and has made several hundred's people relax and learn to have a smile on their faces.

    No words may comfort you at this time and healing takes time. We pray and hope that you continue your writing and being involved in each every activity that you have been part of.

    We are with you and hope that you regain from sadness and sorrow from absence of Lynette in your house.

  • Joan Lobo, Kadri, Mangalore

    Wed, Aug 16 2017

    An Exemplary Couple.... forever in love... Your story strikes a chord and you'll will remain an inspiration always

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Aug 16 2017

    R.I.P. Madam.

  • sonal lobo, Bangalore

    Wed, Aug 16 2017

    Beautifully written sir. Every love story is unique and ur story touched me.

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