La vie en Rose

Gone are those childhood days when I used to hurry up my studies to listen to the melodious Konkani programme under the titled Manazogtim Gitam, on the radio. So also during weddings in Goa, gramophone records of Konkani songs were played on the old funnel-type mikes which kept the whole atmosphere of the neighbourhood reverberating with music. No tape-recorder, no television, no internet, no iPod existed. Radio and newspaper were the only means of communication. Somehow his songs cast a magic spell on my innocent young life so much that he seemed to me like a Pied Piper whose music just drove me to the world of ecstasy.

Lots of tributes have been paid to Alfred Rose by his passionate friends and fans, especially after his demise on October 21, 2003. I don't want to repeat what others have said nor do I intend to exaggerate my sharing on him. Although I have never met him personally nor have I seen the dramas, I feel a great sense of joy in scribbling something on the occasion of his birthday on August 5.

Childhood memories they say, never die. Although now years have gone by yet its melody still reverberates in my mind. Secondly by God's providence, after 12 years of priesthood I was posted in the same village of Carona where he was born. Perhaps God wanted me to keep him alive in whatever way I could, for the immense contribution that he has done to the Konkani in particular and to Goan culture in general.

Gabriel Marcel the famous French philosopher (the existentialist) saw with his own eyes during World War-I how people brutally killed each other without an inch of mercy. This moved him to write a drama called The Broken World. And in this drama he showed the plight of the modern world. If we cast a glance around us we see a lack of values and principles. We read in the newspapers and see on TV, the murders, rapes and all sorts of evil that is taking place in the present-day world. In such a cloudy atmosphere, Alfred Rose songs appears like the sunshine to the broken World. Like a magician he would hipnotise the listener into singing, dancing and even crying. Due to his passionate songs and melody he earned the sobriquets like Goa's melody king, the man with the Golden voice etc.

Apart from his golden voice what makes him stand above the rest is his ability to appeal to the tastes of different people whatever may be their cultural background. Whenever he undertook to the European countries he shaped his songs according to the taste of his audience. He believed in the adage, 'Be a Roman when you are in Rome'. His songs, though highly entertaining with his lovely and lively music, yet I would label them "edutaining", meaning along with the entertainment they educated the listener with thought-provoking messages.

Thirdly, another difference is that unlike most of the modern singers, there is a lot of positivity in his songs. His songs seems to say there is no use of crying over split milk, but keep up hope, there is brighter side of life, sooner or later the sun is sure to rise in your life. He never indulged in mud slinging in his songs but on the contrary inculcated values in the heart of the listener. Love is the central idea of most of his songs. Romanticism appears to be his forte. He sang his songs not merely with his golden voice but with great passion and gusto. It is indeed difficult not to be captivated by his aura.

Though Alfred rose had a humble beginning, yet he never forgot his roots. Though he achieved much in his life, mostly as a singer, he always remembered his roots. This is evident in his songs such as kalchi coddi, ghoddxem, etc. He identified himself with the sick, the old, the poor and the downtrodden through his songs and raised up their spirits. Whenever natural calamities occurred or disasters or accidents took place, he used to beautifully express the sorrow the world has experience though that disaster. His sorrowful songs no doubt would bring tears in my eyes.

Still thoughts start flowing in my mind but I would like to restrict myself and remember my favourite singer late Alfred Rose on his 81{+s}{+t} birthday on August 5, and pray that the lord may give him eternal bliss in heaven.

The writer is a priest who has compiled Alfred Rose's songs under the title Gitanjali'.

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