An Era of Legends
An Original Story
By Abhik Bhanu
How I wish I could be like my Great Grandpa! He lived in Goa, a hundred and fifty years ago- another era altogether. Life was slow and simple. Everything was pure and natural. Every little thing needed honest hard work and patience.
Thrilling joy! Once you achieved something after hard work and great difficulty, it gave you immense satisfaction. And love! Oh! Love was love! Don’t ask me about love! You would fall in love for the first time with nothing more than a glimpse or a whiff and then, it was rock solid. They would die for it. It was rarely discussed, but everything was conveyed with silent, shy glances.
My grandmother told me the passionate love story of her parents.
I was a 9-year-old boy then, but every little detail she talked of, is etched in my memory, it was so beautiful!
Galileo DaCosta was the name of my great grandfather. He was a Frenchman, and he came to Goa for business and loved it here. He was rich and had many horses which he brought along, all the way from France. His favorite horse was Leviathan. He soon created a small army for his security and business. It was a time when empty lands could be taken up by simply cutting the jungles. He acquired sizeable land and built a huge castle at Morjim beach.
A virgin at the age of 25, he met Kristle one sunny afternoon while he was out for a joy ride on Leviathan. Kristle looked tired and lost on her way home. He watched her from far and felt something stir inside of him. Being a gentleman, he offered to drop her home. She, like a lady, politely declined his help and continued walking. Galileo, still on the horseback, followed her slowly, at a safe distance. Kristle often turned her head slightly to see him from the corner of her eyes but continued walking.
Galileo returned and just couldn’t sleep that night. He kept seeing her image- soft curls framing her beautiful face and big, chestnut-colored eyes on her dusky smooth skin. The way she gracefully lifted her long gown and coyly turned her head to look at him. She didn’t smile or wave upon reaching home. She was some lady!
The next morning, he found out that her father Pedro Fernandez was a rich man who owned lots of gardens and shops of flowers. Galileo visited all his shops, hoping to get a glimpse of Kristle. In fact, he made it a daily ritual. A whole year just went by, but he didn’t get a chance to see her even once. She was as fresh as ever in his heart and mind.
He made a good customer and later, good friends with her father. He arranged the bouquets in his huge room. He visited that room when he wanted to be alone with her memory.
Finally, one day he invited Pedro and his family to his huge castle for dinner.
That evening Galileo saw the love of his life for the second time. Kristle ’s father wished to see his bungalow post-dinner. He honored his request gracefully. Only Kristle knew why her family was invited for dinner.
Pedro saw his room full of bouquets bought from his shop. He asked why he had kept those flowers. Then Galileo opened up. “I met someone very beautiful, she looked lost on her way home. I offered to help her, but she refused. It was love at first sight for me. I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with her at that very moment.”
“Where is she?” asked Pedro.
“She is here. Can’t you feel the aroma filling this place?” Replied Galileo.
“It’s great to have her fragrance, but where is your lady love?”
“I am anxiously waiting to welcome her in my life. At the moment she is right here and I am talking to her father.”
Pedro wasn’t happy to hear that. He left immediately with his family.
Kristle liked Galileo, he was a passionate man and steadfast too. He loved her and deserved her love in return. Her father, however, didn’t like him. She confided in her mother about her feelings for Galileo. Her mother tried talking to Pedro. But there was an issue. Pedro had given his word to his childhood friend Antonio. Antonio’s son Alex had gone to England and was expected to return the next month after finishing his business deal. Alex was a trader by profession and had to travel to different countries frequently.
Galileo was sad that Kristle’s family had rejected him. But he wasn’t the one to give up so easily. For a month, every day, he went on his favorite horse Leviathan and stood below Kristle’s window to get her glimpse.
On the 31st day, he rode Leviathan and got another beautiful horse, Pegasus, along. Then, he waited for Kristle to come down. She came down that day and mounted Pegasus. Both Leviathan and Pegasus took them for a long joy ride.
They reached the beach and stood facing the Arabian Sea. Galileo looked at Kristle’s lovely face. Both gazed at each other without saying a word.
Kristle was the first to blink, “Why don’t you meet Alex and convince him; he would be here in a couple of weeks. He is sailing through east cost.”
“If you agree my love, I don’t care what the rest of the world says, I will definitely go and meet him and deliver your message.” Galileo accepted it.
Both rode back to Kristle’s home. Kristle stroked Pegasus’s neck affectionately as she was about to leave.
“This is for you.” She heard Galileo say.
“For me?” She was thrilled at the thought of owning such a beautiful beast. She was lost for words. Pegasus neighed.
She was flattered and she accepted Pegasus with gratitude.
Galileo returned to his castle to prepare for the voyage. The next day he, with his crew sailed meet Alex.
Kristle rode Pegasus every evening and relived her moments with Galileo. She missed Galileo and wished he returned victorious.
After ten days of sailing, Galileo spotted Alex’s ship. He went ahead and demanded to meet Alex.
Alex was gracious and invited him to talk.
“I am here as a messenger.”
“My love asked me to deliver her message to you.”
“What message? Whose love? Can you be specific?”
Galileo paused and said “Kristle loves me. But her father Pedro has committed your father to marry you two.”
That was a strange situation they were in. Alex never expected a man to come all the way into the ocean without waiting for him to touch Goa shore.
Those were uncomfortable moments for both of them and Alex didn’t know how to react. The ocean was restless that day and their ships were anchored.
“As a matter of fact, I love her too. Since she delivered that message though you, I must honor her request. One thing for sure! She doesn’t want both of us to land in Goa. Only one of us would reach Goa.”
Now it was Galileo’s turn to be confused.
“What are you proposing Alex?”
“I propose to show bravery and win. The winner will have Kristle.”
“And how would that be decided?” Asked Galileo, still unclear about the proposition.
“I am no foe or friend of yours. But the situation is complex. From what I understood, neither you nor I can live without Kristle. So, let’s fight. The winner gets Kristle.”
“And what would be the rules of the fight?” Though Galileo had not expected it, he was ready for any challenge.
“After an hour on the deck of the ship, we will start a duel ‘One on One’.”
“Till the decision is made.”
“Fair enough. I will be ready in an hour. Let me get my sword.”
Galileo returned with his sword in an hour. They started a fair sword fight. Both were good warriors. Both sides watched them fight with abated breath. They fought till evening, both were hurt and bleeding. At last, Alex fell down and asked Galileo to kill him. Galileo didn’t kill him. He praised his courage and offered his hand to help him get up. Alex accepted his friendship.
Both became good friends. Both the ships returned to Goa together. Alex introduced Galileo to his father and wholeheartedly accepted that Galileo deserved to marry Kristle.
In a grand ceremony, Galileo and Kristle married in the most famous church in Goa. Galileo came on Leviathan. The city of Goa joined the celebrations.
Alex was Galileo’s ‘best man’ at the wedding and later, the Godfather of their children. Alex never got married, but always visited Galileo and Kristle and played with their children. Their children were always excited to meet this uncle, who bore gifts from across the seven seas.
That was the time when people lived with dignity. Words like bravery, kindness, love, and compassion had a deep meaning and were the very fabric of life. People were ready to die for it. I wasn’t born in that era but I wish I were.
Galileo DaCosta lived in a castle at Morjim beach, where I live today. He was my great-grandpa, and I am proud of him. I am his blood at the end of the day.
Great Grandpa lived a glorious life without electricity or any electronic gadgets, pollution, noise. Girls never went to the gym but we're fit and healthy. Nature made them beautiful, not cosmetics. They walked miles to reach someplace or to meet someone. I haven’t seen my great Grandpa but heard a lot about him. And what about the glory? It was glorious to fight and die at that time. Today, it would be unthinkable to die for love. The era was known for bravery and commitment, friendship, love, and compassion were values they lived by.
That was an era of legends, I too belong to that, as I have the same blood running in my veins. I live in Goa and I am French.