15 Book Review - The Permanent Resident

posted Apr 20, 2017, 8:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 20, 2017, 8:07 AM ]
by Roanna Gonsalves. Published by UWA Publishing. Reprint by Goa, 1556. 280 pages. Price in India: Rs 200

At the start, let her own words speak for Roanna Gonsalves, author of this brave new collection of short stories that should not be approached as just another diaspora offering. The setting may be diaspora – Australian, antipodes. The circumstance may bring to mind the Green Card, holy grail of Indians going West, here defined as Permanent Residency (PR). The sensibility is that of someone straddling two countries with ease instead of angst, as she tries to make sense of one in relation to the other. Even so, in its sweep and reach, it is not just another diaspora collection, at least not to those of us in Mumbai who have an intimate knowledge of the world she left behind.

The roots are evident, parish, youth movements, Mass and Novenas, a conservative upbringing that provides security, even as it occasionally stifles. There is the oft-felt binary, of forwardness and progress up against the need to stay behind and follow the well-trodden paths laid down by need and careful parenting. But what to do with the upwelling of emotions, dreams and ideas that take one to different climes, and continents in search of the music that plays in the heart?

Her words, taken from 'Straight, no Chaser'. "She went home with a man from Cavana. The bike ride was sweet, laced with letting go. It was a surprise that she went with him at all. But Cavana is a place of promise and forgetting. Of moons that sweeten skies with roguish delight."