Goa India Xavier Baptiste Freedom Fighter
Indian Freedom Fighters.
Indian Freedom Fighter- they came in all types.
Welcome to Goa India, and Xavier Baptiste, the Freedom Fighter.
To people born after 1960, the 1950s must seem almost like ancient history. But to one born in 1936 like myself, it is a period they have lived through. Here is a story written by a good friend of mine, Glenn D’Cruz. Glenn’s ancestry hails from Goa, the former Portugese Colony on the central western coast of India. Here is the story Glenn wrote.
Goa is on India's Coromandel Coast.
Goa forms part of the Coromandel Coast of India. It is a land blessed with endless beaches, miles and miles of coconut palms and relaxed, happy people. Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for over two centuries. In the 1950s Goan freedom fighters began to agitate for liberation. It took a while in coming The Portuguese incarcerated these freedom fighters in FortAguada, an ancient fort by the sea. Conditions were harsh. The Portuguese employed Africans as sentries. These they had brought out from their other colonies in Africa - Mozambique and Angola.
Fort Aguada - a terrible place to be incarcerated.
A rebel with a cause.
The following story, my friends, is about a Goan rebel with a cause, Xavier Baptiste, and an African sentry named Nicholaus Azuma.
A boat appeared on the horizon. It was the Africa boat. All the sentries gathered at the gates in excitement. For many it meant news from home, little messages of love, small parcels to remind them of loved ones. Some of the sentries and their families would be returning on the Africa boat as they had completed their work contract. There was a lot of laughter, chattering and nearly all seemed to have big smiles on their faces.
Night falls over a Goan Beach.
How a very unusual friendship was formed.
Xavier Baptiste noticed that one sentry, Nicholaus Azuma, seemed unhappy.
“Are you not happy to go back” Xavier said.
“No. I love Africa, but I just don’t want to return there just yet”
Could Nicholaus be in love Xavier Baptiste wondered. It wasn’t the first time an African had fallen for one of Goan’s beautiful women.
“If you don’t want to leave on the Africa boat then... ask to stay. Make an application to the commandant. I’ll be happy to write the letter for you. I’m sure he will be happy to have you stay.”
Goa India Xavier Baptiste the Freedom Fighter.
Nicholaus did not reply. Guards weren’t in the habit of bantering with prisoners. But it seemed a great weight lifted off his shoulders. Nicholaus took the advice and put in an application.
In the days following this Nicholaus seemed to undergo a great change. Where he once was curt to Xavier Baptiste and the others jailed there, he was now more polite, more respectful. Where once before he had attacked one of the freedom fighters for speaking in Konkani, he now helped them draw water from the well to wash. He even gave them a fish or two when he went fishing off the pier. But it was also noticed he began to sing the praises of Goan girls about their beauty, their cooking skills.
Xavier Baptiste concluded that Nicholaus had fallen in love. And he was not wrong.
A typical home. Here we see mother and child.
Nicholaus could not stop talking about his beloved, Marie.
Nicholaus couldn’t stop talking about taking his beloved Marie. He’d take her back to Africa to meet his family and friends. Xavier blessed them both and said:
‘The day our Marie lands in your Africa your land will be filled with my brothers” Nicholaus and Marie were pleased with these words.
A typical Goan Beach.
Nicholaus and Xavier returned to the grim walls of Fort Aguada.
Soon it was time to go, and Xavier and Nicholaus returned to the grim walls of the Fort Aquada. Xavier took one last gulp of the fresh air of freedom, then the door to his cell was slammed shut. Nicholaus said goodbye and returned to his post.
Four months later Nicholaus came to the jail excited and beaming with joy. “Marie has had a boy. I must return to Africa and show off my son and wife”. A month later the Africa boat arrived and Nicholaus made preparartions to leave with it. He came to Xavier one evening and said, “ I would like to show you my son. Tonight we go to visit Marie and my son. Enjoy, for it will be your last taste of freedom. Marie, the baby and I leave for Africa very soon.”
That night the door to the outside swung open.
That night the door to the outside swung open. Once again Xavier was surrounded by the freedom of the Goan night. It was a full moon night. The sky seemed to be decked with a thousand jewels. The waves crashed onto the shore and the coconut palms waved in a gentle, caress of a sea breeze. As they walked Xavier gulped at the precious moments of freedom and longed to be transported far away from the walls of the fort. The first temptation began to arise in him.
How could one not love this place?
In the distance the hamlet appeared and there stood Marie and Nicholaus’s little son. Nicholaus’s family were happy and filled with love. Xavier played with the little boy and blessed the couple for their journey to Africa. He was so happy for them.
Nicholaus asked Xavier to go the beach and sit for a while - he said he would join Xavier soon.
The temptation became very powerful. Here was his chance.
The rebel with a cause knew he could escape.
At first walked along the beach and watching the waves. The shadows of the coconut palms came up and grabbed at him. Xavier quickened his paced. He wanted to be free. He had friends in the village who could spirit him away. It would be in all tomorrow’s news – Political prisoner escapes Aguada jail. Now he was running. Soon he was a good half-mile away.
Then Xavier turned. He saw the lights from the little hamlet afar off. He could still make out the happy family gathered together there.
A great fight was going on inside of him.
He stopped. It seemed as if a great fight were going on inside him over which he had no control. And then, as if he were an automaton, his mind screaming one thing his heart another, he found himself moving...moving...back to where he had come from. And as he moved he found more and more a feeling of indescribable peace arising in his breast.
Xavier returned and squagted down at the beach . Soon Nicholaus came running up to him . He saw Xavier and hugged him to his chest, so relieved to see that Xavier had not run away after all.
Could this be the Africa Boat?
Goa India Xavier Baptiste Freedom Fighter.
That night, my friends, a hardened Goan freedom fighter set aside his own freedom for the happiness of an African sentry. He knew that if he’d escaped, Nicholaus dreams would have come to an end.
Yes, that day one man gave up his freedom for the happiness of another. If we can learn this lesson this world our ours will surely be a better place - a world without poverty, without injustice, a world where love for one another reigns supreme. The Africa boat is on the horizon, my friends. Why don’t you step aboard.