Serving two masters: Motherland and Konkani

As India gears up for the 72nd Independence Day, a day to pay homage to their leaders and those who fought for India's freedom in the past, Team KC interviewed a versatile personality who though old in age is young at heart. After being a part of the Indian Airforce for 37 long years, he is now turned out to be a blessing to the lovers of Konkani literature. Dear readers he is none other than Edwin Marian Netto fondly known as Eddie Netto.

Here are the excerpts of his interview:

Eddie Sir, you have a very rare Surname. Can you tell us about it? 
Many Catholic surnames have got Portuguese origin. But Netto was the surname given to my father who was converted by the Italian Jesuit priests. 

Sir, tell us something about your childhood? 
I was born on April 10th 1938 to the late Amando Netto and the late Francisca Netto as the fourth child among six children in Jeppu Compound belonging to the Jeppu parish. I did my initial schooling at St Joseph School, Jeppu. My father was a carpenter by profession and was also a dramatist at the Jeppu Natak Sangh. Luvi Netto, my elder brother too was also an actor there. Seeing their acting in dramas, I too developed a great interest in acting since childhood. Since I was good in studies after my primary education, the then Manager of Jeppu Workshop Late Fr Cyril Pereira SJ gave me a recommendation to avail free seat at St Aloysius High School. Thus I could continue my studies till matriculation.

Sir, do you remember anything of the time when India became independent? 
Yes of course. I was a 9 year old boy then. On 15th August 1947, there was a festive atmosphere in our locality. Many youngsters were shouting slogans “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Mahatma Gandhi Ki Kai” and were going around in the streets. As a boy, I too along with my friends joined the youth in celebrating the Independence Day.

Sir, how did you then get into the Indian Airforce? 
After completing my high school studies, my father expressed his helplessness to afford my studies and advised me to search for a job. So I registered my name in the employment exchange of Mangalore. But one of the officials looking at my certificates and my love and interest for football asked me to apply for the Indian Airforce. To my fortune, I was selected for the training of Indian Airforce and I reported to Infantry Road Bangalore Airforce center in 1956 and from there I was sent to Jalahalli Training Center along with 6 of my companions which marked the beginning of my career in Indian Airforce. 

How was your career journey in the Indian Airforce? 
After completing my training in Jalahalli, I was posted to Ambala in Haryana. Along with my work in the Airforce, I got many opportunities to exhibit my talents in the Airforce Camps and thus I became a known person to many very early. In the early days of my career, I got apt training in Madras and Baroda where I could get expertise in working on the Russian missiles. With the training experience that I gained I was posted to Kashmir, Punjab, Agra, Assam, Darjeeling and Rajasthan later on. I have also taken part in the 1962 China war, 1965 Pakistan war and 1971 Bangla war. After serving for 37 years in the Indian Airforce, I retired as a Missile Officer in 1993.

Sir, let us know about the awards you have earned in your career in Airforce? 
I have received five military awards and Rashtrapati Puraskar by Former President Late K. R. Narayanan in 1992.

Sir, tell us something about your family? 
When I was getting stabilised in my career, my family members wanted me to get married too and as per their wish I got married to Rosy Netto in 1970 who hails from Milagres. As a blessing of our married life we have one daughter named Jasmine who was born in 1971. She presently works as a teacher in Mangalore and is married to Alister. I have two grandchildren Shawn and Audy. 

Sir today you are a well-known Konkani writer. When did you develop this writing skill? 
Right from my childhood days I was fond of reading Konkani periodicals.Seeing the skill I had in writing my father encouraged me to write for the periodicals. As a result “Navan Apoitha Tuka Stella”, my first poem was published in “Mithr” Konkani Magazine and its editor Late J. S. Alvares encouraged me to write more. Even during my career in Airforce my father used to send these magazines to me which kept alive the love I had for Konkani language. It also polished my literary skills.

I believe that after your retirement from the Airforce, you engaged yourself more into writing articles, poems etc?
Yes indeed. I was very happy and relaxed during my initial days of my retirement. But as days passed I involved myself in writing for different Konkani magazines namely Rakhnno, Dirvem, Divo, Mithr, etc. regularly which became my world later. The total number of my writings has reached 3124 as on date which includes 30 poems, 492 stories and 7 books that have been published. I have also penned down my life experience in a book named ‘Paatim Dheest’ which was published with the help of Karnataka Konkani Sahithya Acadamy in 2017. 

You are a recipient of many awards for your literary contribution towards Konkani language. Can you tell us about it? 
Firstly I would like to thank all the organisation and associations who have recognized my contribution to Konkani Language. The awards I have received so far include Rakno Award (1993), 2002 Divo Literary Award (2002), Jeppu Natak Sangh Award (2003), Sevak Monthly Magazine Award (2004), Karnataka Konkani Sahithya Acadamy Award (2005), Konkani Talents Kuwait Award, Daiji Dubai Award, Konkani Kutam Bahrain Award, Sandesha Award Samanvaya Award (2018).

Sir what is your message for the KonkanCatholic web readers. 
As we celebrate our country’s 72nd Independence day, my request is to society, specially youth to work for nation, working not only by being soldiers or getting in to the army but also through developing the country in small deeds that is possible. To the Konkani people my humble request is to please buy Konkani books and encourage Konkani writers. Nowadays we do not find many writers publishing books because our Konkani people do not buy them. Hence I urge and request you to support the writers and thus uplift Konkani language. 

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