novel portrays the travails of a Catholic girl growing up in
traditional Goa, India of the 1950s during the last decade of the
Cardoso derives immense pleasure from the simple village life steeped
in customs, traditions, feasts and celebrations. Until.she comes face to
face with ugly caste discrimination inflicted on her people for
old Goan custom declares that the goddess who visits the child on the
sixth night after birth determines the destiny of the child forever. Was
it her destiny to be beautiful, lively and excel at everything and yet
be the goddess had not felt welcome enough. She falls hopelessly in
love with a foreigner, only to lose him abruptly during the
Indo-Portuguese conflict of 1961.
alone, ostracized, helpless and pregnant with a half-Portuguese
love-child, she struggles with thoughts of despair, single motherhood
and the pain of separation as life drags her through three continents
ultimately landing her in a new country -- Canada.
story of love, hate, jealousy and intrigue -- great insights into Goan
life, traditions and customs. Will bad karma haunt her all her life? Or
will her steely determination and innate goodness change what was
written on the Sixth Night?
book starts with a detailed nostalgic background of the Goan village
life, slowly taking the reader to a fast life of a Liceista at Liceu
Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque in Pangim, where the novel reaches its
climax and the protagonist feels the after-effects of Indian
invasion/Goan liberation, and from there the last part of the book takes
the reader through complexities in life through the U.K. Portugal,
Germany and finally to Canada.
heavy doses of nostalgia, humour, usage of Konkani and Portuguese words
to give the novel an authentic touch of a life in pre-liberation Goa,
the novel is a feel-good kind of a story, which rewards the reader for
going through over 300 pages of interesting intellectual, social, and
political stimulation, deductive reasoning, logical conclusions, and
From the Critics
What's the Sixth Night, or Sottvi Raat?
It's an old Goan belief, which the author expresses in a couplet down below:
No matter how hard you try
No matter what you do
What is written on your Sixth Night
Will always come true
Barbosa, the author, weaves a very fascinating narrative around this
old Goan belief, exposing the social mores based on caste iniquities and
servile mental attitudes implanted to the very core of the Goan psyche
by the feudal and colonial hierarchies during that period of Goa's
story revolves around Linda Antonieta Cardoso, born to Joanita Dias of
Navelim and Mário Cardoso of Cuncolim on the twenty-seven October 1944.
She is born in the Shudra caste, the lowest caste in the Goan caste
structure, and her ancestors were toddy tappers.
one goes reading the novel, it appears, that Sottvi, the Goddess of the
Sixth Night, inscribed an exceptional future in Linda's destiny. Sottvi
endowed her with a gift of intellectual curiosity, giving her a strong
will to fight against the prejudices that kept humans in subservient
oppression in the society that she was born in.
consciousness awakens to the injustices of the caste system, for the
first time, when she was about nine years old. It happened in her
village Church. She had gone with her mother Joanita to the Passion
Service, and they were lucky to have seats in the pew at the back. But
when an upper caste woman who had arrived late to the services, orders
them to vacate the seats because they are of lower caste, and that the
seats be given to her, Linda rebels and fights for her rights, creating a
commotion in the Church.
later on, when Linda was a student at Liceu Nacional Afonso de
Albuquerque - Portuguese High School, in Panjim, the fellow students,
who came from the Goan elite class and some from Portuguese Europeans,
looked down upon her because she didn't belong to their social status.
She was just a plain village girl. The snobbish attitudes of her fellow
students hurt her. She fought them by coming at the top of her class,
thereby demonstrating that she was not only intellectually superior to
them but a better human being.
pursue the romance of Linda and Carlos Soares, a Portuguese bureaucrat,
who was an attaché to the Governor's Colonial Office in Panjim. Fate
throws a lot of insurmountable hurdles on their way, making their union
almost impossible. But in the end, purity of feelings and true love
overcomes them all, and the couple gets married not in Goa, nor in
Portugal, but in St Michael's Cathedral in Toronto.
and I may not believe it, but Joanita, the mother of Linda, who came
all the way from Goa to attend the wedding of her daughter, is certainly
convinced that the Sottvi, the Goddess of the Sixth Night, inscribed
the incomparable future of her daughter on that auspicious sixth night
of her birth.
I enjoyed reading The Sixth Night. - Lino Leitão (Book Reviewer) - author of The Gift of the Holy Cross