Looking back down the road I’ve traveled, with a guitar case instead of a suitcase in my hand, I earnestly wish I could say, “So far, so good!” But in all honesty, it hasn’t been so. As throngs of my fellow Damaneses opt for Portuguese citizenship and leave Daman to settle down in Europe, more and more I feel like a stranger in my own hometown. The ever-expanding ‘Bribe Tribe’ is still foreign to me despite it being well over two decades since we got delinked from Goa. Come to think of it, I did not experience as big a culture shock in 1961 as I did when we were severed from Goa.
With only a month to completing 50 years of its liberation, Daman had its biggest-ever protest march this November 24th. A young man spoke with such conviction on topics and problems that have been making a buzz on social media sites, perhaps fueled by similar protests elsewhere in the country. I could easily use this as grist for my songwriting mill and churn out a protest folksong – no music sounds as authentic as when the oppressed sing songs of protest but wouldn’t it be a crying shame? Our traditional folk songs were about poverty and its alleviation; never about oppression and alienation. And we had riches – we were multicultural, multilingual, multiracial and lived in sweet harmony.
I still need my guitar and the power of folksongs to help me along the way. Folksongs may age but they never get old like the one-week hit songs of today. That’s because they document our history, culture and values more authentically, enticingly and entertainingly than any history book ever could. My music teacher may have found solace in a bottle of wine but he left me the most enduring legacy. I believe that music is a means of experiencing as well as expressing freedom. And most of all, I believe that the guitar is a celebration of this freedom because you are free to ‘do-your-own-thing, any-which-way’!