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In a Goa beyond visitors’ eyes[continued]

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"The state may not be evil, but it's a wily adversary once its mind goes into a dumb spell. It's machinery will seduce, split, buy and overwhelm vulnerable people," she says. "The once cash-poor Santals were suddenly into money. Their drinking used to be communal and built into their culture. Now they had the money to drink without reason or occasion, and at any time. They were willing to turn their backs on a great heritage and give up their lands. The government had its dam. The hills and the dales we had traversed for year was gone." She was shattered. There was a broad sheet of water like a shroud over a culture. The rebel's voice went weak: "was it futile to stand up for what seems right?" She began to fall ill.

Elsewhere, Fr. Gregory D'Costa's doubts were rearing their heads. The church had indulged him and let him explore. He spent some time with Fr Anthony D'Mello at his Sadhana Institute in Lonavla near Bombay. Fr D'Mello was indeed a radical priest. But his work also defined the limits of working within the church. Greg's learning said he was blinding himself to the world that lay beyond the life he had chosen. He went away for a year to work on watershed development in Maharashtra. And became more convinced that he must begin anew if he were to express himself. He considered the possibility of giving up priesthood. "I had no quarrel with the Church or Christianity," says Greg. "I still don't have. My problem was, I had no quarrels with other religions and systems either. It therefore seemed so pointless to brand myself." He was close to a major decision.


Bernie was recuperating in her brother's house in Surat when Greg dropped by one day. She had heard of him as a brother's friend who went away to become a priest. Now she met him in one of those contexts that life routinely arranges for us. They began to talk of their worlds.

As Greg heard Bernie's story of a penniless life among the Santals, it hit him: "I already feel a failure for not knowing my mission; she knew her's, and failed-- but only after having fought. Here I am in reasonable physical comfort, a man who had taken a vow of poverty. There lies Bernie who, without any vows, had unconsciously chosen selflessness in the cause of injustice." Greg was convinced his decision to leave was right. It shook his admirers in the church.

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