We moved in with our new friends Duncan and Vasanti Watkinson until we found a place of our own. Dudley Reed and Tony had stayed with them during their survey trip. He wasn’t sure what impression he had made on them. In the middle of the night, Tony did a bit of sleep walking in his jockeys. Duncan was still awake and met him in the passage outside his bedroom. He very gently turned Tony around and led him back to his room. They didn’t know each other at all so it was a bit awkward the next day at the breakfast table. Tony vaguely remembered it but didn’t want to bring it up in front of everyone. He could only imagine what would have happened if Duncan hadn’t been awake.
Asha turned four on the 21st September. We had a party for her and her new little Goan friends. She loved it. We got her a brightly coloured cake from the local bakery. It was Rs 90.00. On our train trip we had seen an advertisement: Abortions: Rs 90.00. The life of a baby was valued at the same price as a child’s birthday cake.
Within a week we found a two bedroomed, semi-furnished flat in Borda. It was on the first floor, right behind St Joiaquin Chapel. The landlord interrogated us and asked if we were hippies. We said no and took the keys. It was so lovely to be in our own house. The heavy furniture was very dark Goan style. Tony put up a little wooden plank swing in the doorway off the lounge and onto the veranda. The kitchen was green, our fridge was blue, the plastic veggie rack was pink and to add a bit more colour, the sink was a bright turquoise. We had two toilets; a western toilet/shower room and also an Indian one. The first time I held the girls over an Indian one they were terrified and closed their eyes through the whole ordeal. It didn’t take them long to get used to it.
Tony and I had a HUGE, very creepy, four-poster bed. It was so high that the girls couldn’t climb up without help. I could hardly get onto it. Their room was just across the passage and they were sharing a mattress on the floor. We got them a little plastic table and chairs and they were all set up with their toys and books. When they lay on their mattress they could see us on our big bed, across the passage.
One morning Asha asked us, “Who were those people around your bed last night? They wouldn’t let me come to you.” She described a lady with a long dress and long hair. She was really scared and we knew it was some kind of demonic presence. We prayed with her and it didn’t happen again but it added to her fear.
With all the travelling, Zoë had been a bit unsettled and miserable. She was crying a lot at night, not listening and being cheekier than usual. Once we moved into our own place and she had some firm boundary lines around her, she was much happier.
Goa is predominantly a Catholic state and we were right in the middle of a very Catholic community. Melba was our neighbour on the first floor. Her hair was a lovely grey and she had a very kind face. She became like a grandmother to the girls. When we opened our door, she opened hers. Ash and Zo went in and out between the lounges with armfuls of toys and dolls. They put them all over her lounge and had tea parties with all kinds of Goan goodies. Melba’s husband was working in Abu-Dhabi as were many of the men from that area. She had a little chipmunk called Chappa, which she kept in a cage. He was quite aggressive and would jump against the cage and wee on her if she didn’t give him food on time. The girls found him very funny.
We were surrounded by pig, rooster, cow, dog and cat noises. Ash woke up one morning and asked “ Mommy, why at night when we’re sleeping is there ‘woof woof , meow meow, cockadoodle- doo and talk talk?” Rosey and Melvin lived in a labourers hut just opposite our house. They were poor and didn’t mix with the likes of Melba and the others who lived near them. Asha and Zoë played with them in their cleanly swept dirt garden for hours. Rosey was about sixteen and she worked in the houses in that area. Melvin was nine and had a very big tummy and was very small for his age. He loved coming to our house to practice his English and hear about Jesus. When they went to church, they weren’t allowed to sit on the chairs like the other people who lived in the flats. They sat outside and had to be very quiet. When the statue of Mary came around to all the houses, it never went to Rosey and Melvin’s hut. They were poor and never expected it to.
It was shocking to find out that 50 percent of Goans were alcoholics. Their pubs and bars pride themselves with names such as, “The Miraculous Jesus Bar,” or “Mary the Immaculate Pub.” Shorty was a little man who drank from morning until night. He would get really drunk and walk along the path in front of our flat, shouting and throwing stones at anyone or anything in his way. He had a really gruff voice, which was way too big for his body. We only ever saw him in tiny shorts and a dirty white vest. His face was swollen and his legs were really skinny. Ash and Zo had mixed feelings about him. They would rush to the veranda to see him and hide when they saw him coming. Zoe wrote a sweet letter to him with a drawing. She hid it away in case he found it.