Nahi Mi Ekala (Marathi)

Nahi Mi Ekala (Marathi)

By Rev. Fr Francis D' Britto

Rajhans Prakashan, 254 pp., Language - Marathi

Available at Jivan Darshan Kendra, Girij, Vasai (Rs 270/-) or online at rajhansprakashan.com

Fr Francis D'Britto, the well-known author, journalist and activist, has published his autobiography 'Nahi Mi Ekala' (Never Am I Alone) to mark his amritmahotsava, i.e. completion of 75 years of age.

A prolific writer, he has presented an audit report of his highly productive life. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of people use only 20% of their capacity. His 254-page self-narrative certainly witnesses to the fact that Fr D'Britto is far, far ahead of the common populace, though he proudly declares that he and his ancestors and relatives are all common simple folk.

God has blessed the local Marathi priest with special gifts and skills for writing. His writing just flows, far better than the local river Tungareshvar of the Vasai region, and at times competing with the sparkling beauty of the iconic Vasai betel leaf (paan) which was appreciated beyond the shores of India.

Particularly when his pen touches celestial lights, birds of the air and flora and fauna surrounding his own locale, he hits a delightfully high level of literary style. His love of the environment for which he is so well known is reflected in mesmerising descriptions, bringing forth a smooth blend of objectivity, imagination and poetry.

Large portions of his life story are devoted to summaries of his outstanding books such as Subodh Bible, Oasischya shodhat, Sangharshyatra Christbhumichi etc. His rendering of the entire Bible in a pleasing and readable style will certainly be regarded as his magnum opus. Preparation of such a voluminous work undertaken single-handedly speaks volumes for his grit and tenacity to work at his desk. While translating the Sacred Scripture into Marathi, he has made copious use of local Marathi and general Indian categories.

It is to be admired that Fr D' Britto has all along ventured to work beyond the routine Church ministry. He has been driven by a keen sense of human rights and intolerance of injustice to take up the causes of environment, anti-terrorism, religious freedom, social reforms and inter-religious harmony. He has been carrying out his ministry in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

His commitment to such basic human values has been consistently and courageously exposed through his Editorials in Suwarta, the Vasai diocesan magazine, newspapers, journals and media channels.

Fr D'Britto has not been an armchair thinker and writer. He has all along been an activist who has participated in civil agitations and led movements for various social causes—Harit Vasai Movement (Green Vasai) being his most favourite.

It certainly is clear from his account that he has not been spared the cup of suffering, both from within and without. Both the members of the Church and civil society have their freedom to dissent and oppose. However, it should be free of envy, jealousy and ignorance.

The writer has devoted quite a number of pages to speak of his parents and siblings, revealing too intensely an emotional side of his highly social profile.

I felt quite astonished by some of his descriptions. His description of the sun setting into the sea borders on the vivid expressions of romantic intimacies between two human lovers. (p. 165)

He declares quite plainly that "with my birth, I obtained Indian citizenship; then two weeks later, I received the Christian consecration (Deeksha). Therefore, I have always kept in mind that I am first Indian, and then Christian." (page 2)

Honestly, the author should rather have written that he is simultaneously Christian and Indian.

Fr D'Britto also quotes with approval J. Krishnamurthy who said, "We are first born as human (man); this identity of ours is sufficient." (page 2)

In truth, Jesus came into the world to liberate us from sin, sinfulness and concupiscence, which are deeply embedded in human nature, to its own grave disadvantage. The mission of Jesus was to save and divinise us beyond the potential and the confines of humanity.

In the context of the present hot issue of cultural unitary nationalism (Hindutva), such a parallel bipolarity is likely to provoke interesting reactions from those on either side of the divide.

Bp Thomas Dabre