He was born into a poor but pious Catholic family full of fishermen and boat rowers. Many a sibling followed, and he grew up taking them under his wings once his mother died after giving birth to his youngest sister. Their tiny thatched roofed shanty on the shore housed the large Gonsalves brood, consisting of four brothers and three sisters.
His father taught him to row the boats and cast the nets, long before he came off age so that he could use some extra hands to feed so many mouths at home. So he never knew how to play with marbles or play ball at the beach. Everyday when his brothers went to play or his sisters went to school he was out on the sea earning some wages to help his father. He never complained, for seeing the happy faces when he returned was worth it all. And the only other solace, Mary, the girl next door. She was his only friend. She would tell her about the book she read in school and he would tell her about the fish he caught. She would tell him about the mountains she visited and he would promise to take her to the islands on the sea.
Soon, the mother’s death took a toll on his father, he took to drinking. Despite this, he took care of his father when he was ailing and also took charge of the younger ones. Once his father passed away, he shouldered all the responsibility and became the man of the house. Mary was a constant companion throughout lending him a patient ear when he worried and held his hand with every decision, funding his brother’s education, sending one abroad or getting his sister’s married. And in return of all this support she asked for nothing but his company.
They always talked but left few things unsaid.
It was love, they both knew but never spoke off.
He never proposed. She never married. Hand in hand years passed by, but their story remained.
One Sunday, during the morning mass, he heard this beautiful fable about Mother Mary and Joseph and it dawned on him that he must do away with his silence.
On his way home he combed his grey hair away and bought her favourite lillies. He would do it, ask her finally…
Like a child with a balloon he hopped towards her cottage…
But as he neared the porch of her house, he saw people gathered carrying a casket away. His broken heart stopped right there and he lay the flowers on the fence itself…
He visits the Church everyday rehearsing how he would propose Mary, praying to see her again, to attain the only peace he had ever known.