If we turn the pages of history of Hoysala dynasty, we come to know a chapter that totally changed the history and dimension of India. When the Jain spiritual guru and the 1st Hoysala ruler confronted a charging tiger, the Jain guru just shouted at him “Hoy Sala”. Hoy means in the language of Old Kannada “strike” and Sala means tiger. With bare hands the 1st ruler of Hoysala dynasty killed the tiger. Thus Hoysala dynasty was formed. This I read in history. Similarly, in Bejai Pinto Lane, in late Emmanuel Francis Pinto and late Piadad Mary Pinto house, their eldest son Vitus Pinto, a dramatist, actor who wrote and staged 2 plays namely Kantya modlo gulob and Maka Jivounk Soda both staged at Don Bosco Hall in 60s mockingly teased his sister saying ”girls cannot write any literature“. This hurt the little Irene of 18 years so badly, she wrote her novel ‘Balidan’ without any basic knowledge, without any previous experience and without any guidance from established writers. Similar to lava that erupts from Volcano, began writing novels as if she was possessed by literature.
Irene shook the male dominated Konkani world of literature by her maiden novel that was published by J S Alvares. Till then, no woman had written a novel of her own in Konkani. Mrs. E. Alvares used to publish books translated from English. This was the beginning of a glorious era in Konkani I must say because of her each and every novel either serialized in magazines or in book form she brought out the emotions of the people, family and as a whole of human being. Her entry as novelist heralded stimulus for other entrants- Rose Karwar Street, Elsie Law Kallianpur, Tina D” Mello and others.
She was simple; she is still simple now. When we talk about her achievements she just smiles and says, ”that was then”. She does not proclaim herself as a writer, she does not take a prime seat in public. She thinks she is a small time writer. I am so charmed by her simplicity I used to always beg her to write more and more. The last in the list book was written by her because of me as she lost the prediction she made about somebody. As per her promise she wrote the book “Asha ani Nirasha”. I have been her fan ever since I became a regular visitor to their house because of my association with her brother late Joe Pinto who was also my college mate. Even now I am so closely connected to her and her family.
Irene is a Konkani’s Triveni. That was how Vally Vogga described her in her interview published in Raknno on 20.06. 76. It was held at my personal request and Vally came to Mangalore when I was on leave then to interview her. It was not an easy task to have the interview; however he agreed after sustained persuasion. This shows what kind of personality and simple lady Irene is.
Irene is a lady of energy and calmness. She wrote the best novel ‘Mujeim Anthskarn Viscerchena’ when she was studying for her final BA that too in her class. She was even sent out of the class as punishment by the Lecturer. In spite of that, she cleared her BA final in 2nd class which itself is a great feat in those days. When she was carrying Jeevan her son she was writing one novel in the morning and the other novel in the afternoon. The novels are Thuvein Negar Kelein and Mog Ani Bharvaso. Irene does not require plot. She does not require any planning. As she writes the plot unfolds. This is the beauty of her skill. Her writing is spontaneous; magic automatically works for her without any preparation.
Sirivant asked me to request Irene to write a Konkani drama to be staged by him. Irene wrote the Konkani drama as per the request by taking off of work at Vijaya Bank. It was such a beautiful story. Very few including me had the privilege to read it. Sirivant somehow asked his friends whom he considered as the stalwarts of Konkani drama to give their opinion. Their hesitation dampened the spirit of Sirivant to stage it. Irene emotionally wrote a letter “the drama what I wrote is a subject of pain to all of you. That is why last Saturday I burnt the copy.”
She married Vincent Castelino of Bejai and they have 3 children all of them now based in Canada. She lost her husband 2 years back.
I do not know why Konkani organizations failed to recognize her contribution to Konkani. No other woman Konkani writer has scaled the heights of her excellence in writing as far as novels are concerned. Where we are talking about reservations in Panchayat, Corporations and Assembly elections, our Konkani organizations knowingly or unknowingly, deliberately or by ignorance did not confer upon her any awards. So far to my knowledge, Gladys Rego and Catherine Rodrigues are the only 2 women to receive awards from Konkani organizations.
Finally, late Victor Rodrigues Memorial Literary award has been conferred on Irene. This will be conferred to her in Samanvaya on 14 February 2016. I hope this will usher recognition of Irene’s work and will induce her to write once again that will fill the hearts of all her Konkani lovers and fans.
I along with my wife, children and their families congratulate Irene on this day of her triumph and glory and wish her all the best. It is my fervent wish, that, Irene will make a honest attempt to write again and make the literature rich and the readers emotional with values.