Mario Keshav Rodriguez, the grody old curmudgeon of Goa, is the product of a ‘sacrilegious’ union between an upper-class Indian lady and a common Portuguese soldier. The multi-talented Mario happens to be a prolific genius of a writer, yet has the stars obstinately crossed against him. In a period spanning many decades, Mario hasn’t been able to get a single line published. Upon drinking Feni (a Goan alcoholic drink) concocted from the sap of a magical toddy, Mario is reincarnated as the beautiful young Sophie. Will Sophie succeed in getting Mario’s rich, literary works published? Or will his dreams die a sad, lingering death?


 Mario Keshav Rodriguez/ Sophie:  is the 65 year old protagonist of ‘dreams don’t die’. Mario is handsome in his youth (marmoreal skin, green eyes, thick dark brown hair) but becomes progressively ugly with time (bald, wrinkled, with a mammoth-sized pot-belly). His nature also undergoes a transformation and he becomes increasingly cantankerous by the day. The reason behind Mario’s changing for the worse is frustration: he has been writing for decades, but has had no luck with publication. The publishers refuse to divulge reasons behind the rejection leaving Mario confused. After drinking Feni (a Goan alcoholic drink) concocted out of the sap of a magic palm tree, Mario metamorphoses into a beautiful young woman, Sophie.

Pedro Carvalho: is the unsung hero of the story. He’s is a clear-eyed benign natured boy of about 13, who lives all by himself in a secret nook of the clandestine hamlet. It is hinted that Pedro has supernatural powers by the means of which he is able to detect that the sap of a particular toddy in one of Mario’s palm trees has magical properties. It has the power to reincarnate ageing males of the human and animal kingdom into young females.

Mrs. D’souza: is the elderly housekeeper of the Rodriguez’s house right from the time Mario’s father was a bachelor. Mrs. D’souza has many a double-chins and is described as being ‘frog-like’ to look at. Appearance-wise, she is considered rather uncomely. However, she has a heart of gold and looks after Mario like a son.

Martin: is a red-faced child-like gentleman of 65 who used to be Mario’s classmate in school. Martin remains friendly with Mario in spite of the latter’s sarcasm and grouchiness. Martin wishes well for his friend and desires to see Mario’s innumerable manuscripts published. He offers to introduce him to a hippie poet, but the cranky Mario refuses. Martin manages to drag Mario to the Goa Literary Fest and introduces him to a renowned writer, hoping that he would offer Mario some guidance vis-à-vis publication.

Gier: is a Norwegian hippie who was born and bred in San Francisco. Gier is tanned, has a toned muscular body, long tangled unkempt hair and an attractive smile. He writes psychedelic poetry under the influence of LSD, cannabis and other drugs. Gier is attracted to the beautiful albeit puritanical Sophie and manages to get her to have sex with him.

Aaron Walker: is a popular American author in his early 40s who has come to the Goa Literary Fest to promote his latest book ‘Theatre Hall’. Walker is tall and keeps himself fit. He has raven black hair, a face like Michelangelo’s sculpture David and melancholy cornflower-blue eyes. When Walker meets Mario at the fest, he bluntly tells him that ‘literary fiction doesn’t sell’, words that he regrets uttering later on. He comes across Sophie sitting at the beach writing and reads her poem.

Philip: is a boy of about 14 who is the leader of a gang of notoriously mischievous children. Philip takes great sadistic delight in tormenting poor Mario. He and the rest of the children pelt Mario with pebbles and stones and blow a particularly jarring trumpet in Mario’s ear when he’s enjoying his afternoon siesta. On a particular occasion, Philip goes as far as to bind Mario’s legs together when the latter is absorbed in gardening causing Mario to fall headlong and hurt himself badly.

Johnny: is the toddy tapper Sophie employs after Pedro Carvalho goes missing.

Mr. and Mrs. Pereira: Is an idle gossipy Goan couple in their mid to late 30s. They enjoy leisure and spend all their time discussing people in the village and their remarks apropos the subject of discussion are generally uncharitable. The couple label Mario and his housekeeper as the ‘ugliest people they’ve ever seen’. Much to the discomfiture of Mrs. Pereira, Mr. Pereira is an over-sexed gentleman frequently given to having wet dreams.

Simon Rodriguez: is the father of Mario and the husband of Kamaladevi Kamat. He is a common Portuguese soldier, but enjoys privileges like a title, silken robes and slaves to serve him. At age 31, Simon falls in love with a local Saraswat Brahmin girl called Kamaladevi. He calls on her father and asks for her hand. The father refuses, but Kamaladevi insists on marrying Simon leading her enraged father to disown her.

Keshav Kamat: is the haughty, bigot of father of the beautiful, unbiased Kamaladevi. Kamat happens to be the professor of the Konkani language at a local university. He feels that Brahmins, incidentally the ‘upper crust’ according to the Hindu caste hierarchy, would lose purity of blood and lineage if they didn’t marry within their own case. Therefore, he refuses to permit his daughter to marry Simon Rodriguez. This is indicative of hypocrisy in Kamat who has brought up Kamaladevi to believe that all humans are equal. When Kamaladevi refutes his diktat by marrying Simon, Kamat disowns her and doesn’t let a penny of his money and property reach her.

Kamaladevi Kamat Rodriguez:  is the bold, beautiful mother of Mario. Kamaladevi is blessed with beautiful golden skin and green eyes. In conservative preindependent-India, she shows great pluck by marrying Simon Rodriguez against her father’s wishes. She is subsequently disowned and cut off without a penny. Kamaladevi and Simon’s marriage is a good one, but their hidden fears have a crucial impact on the upbringing of Mario and his resultant personality.

Crystal Lock: is aged injured dying stallion that is revived by Pedro Carvalho.  Following lapping up the toddy sap, Crystal Lock turns into a mare with a black shiny coat, strong pectoral muscles and a lean feminine face. She instinctively knows her estrous cycle is on. Crystal Lock mates with a young stallion and gives birth to a healthy foal 11 months later.

[Sample text – less than 10% of the story is shown due to restrictions of KDP]

A Secret Brew for Rejuvenation

Dreams Don’t Die

Chapter 1

The Dying Stallion

The sun was blazing over the blue beaches and silvery sands. Palm and Cashew nut trees gently grew by the side, gently swaying to the soothing music of the winds. The flea-market on Anjuna beach was particularly active today; with the original local Saraswat Brahmins, the Mughals and the Portuguese clamorously haggling and buying knick-knacks from the shirtless sun-burnt vendors. Crystal Lock stopped for a moment, looking expectantly at the eclectic hodge-podge of human species. They didn’t spare him a second glance. ‘Why would they?’ thought poor Crystal Lock sadly ‘I am after all an animal, and an old one at that’.

Crystal Lock had been a great favorite among the punters and racers, not too many years ago. His record had had many a specimen of the hoi polloi queue up at the tote booth. Many a stalwart had wagered on him. And Crystal had not disappointed them; galloping away to the finishing line, winning every penny they had bet on him. Yet all that had changed now that he was no longer in his prime. He was ejected from the stables as if he was some waste-product. It would, instead, have been a blessing if they had shot him.

Crystal Lock was a sorry sight. Anyone, with even half a heart in their bosoms would have cried on beholding him. His black mane, which was thick and lustrous in his youth, was now sparse, patchy and drab. The muscles just below the chest—the pectorals—which had once been strong and sinewy, now sagged pathetically. He had a gash below the left knee in his hind-quarter (the courtesy of a particularly vicious thorn shrub) which obstinately refused to heal. This was a result of his advanced years and also because horses have tendons instead of muscles below the knee. As if the above miseries were inadequate, the stifle i.e. the rear leg joint that meets the body was ‘locked’ or rather, caught (imagine what it feels like when you have a ‘stitch’ in your back) causing Crystal Lock immense pain. ‘Why doesn’t any kind soul shoot me and put me out of my misery?’ thought the near-lachrymose horse. Yet he trudged on like the true champion he was.

After limping a mile or so from Anjuna beach, Crystal Lock was a hundred percent certain that he’d drop dead. The blazing sun that had converted the tarred roads into burning coals, scorched his ancient hooves. His tongue, chapped and parched as an earth in drought, desperately craved for a drop of water. ‘You should have had a sip or two at Anjuna beach’ he reprimanded himself before remembering that the water there is saline. What use would that have been? As Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s mariner in his never-ending saga of a poem ‘The Rhyme of an ancient Mariner’ had observed, there was ‘Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!’. Such was the tragedy ocean water scourged one with.

Crystal Lock was at the danger of going straight ahead on the same path, which would have been his perdition. Instead, instinct or divine intervention urged him to take a turn towards the left. The streets, flanked on the sides with graceful palms and singularly feminine-looking casuarinas, kept the punishing hot sun out. The intense glare on Crystal Lock ceased and his hooves began to cool down a little. He was still extremely fatigued, but experienced a profound sense of peace. It was almost as if the inanimate and mute props; the cooled road and the trees that were gently fanning him, were reassuring him that hope lay ahead.

Half a mile down the road, Crystal Lock came across a thick dense mass of foliage. They seemed secretive and mysterious, as if guarding a state secret of behemoth proportions. Curiosity numbed some of the pain of his gash and the ‘locking stifle’ and Crystal Lock proceeded to sniff his way and poke his long muscle amidst a clearing. It was a narrow ribbon; just adequate for perhaps a nascent foal to pass, but Crystal Lock resolutely squeezed through. To his utter surprise, what lay concealed behind the strict thick trees that acted as sentinels, was a singularly picturesque little village! Crystal Lock hadn’t seen this hamlet before, not had he heard anyone make a mention of it. This was some discovery! (‘I should have been called Christopher Columbus, not Crystal Lock’ thought the well-informed stallion in his mind).

The village had all the features of Portuguese architecture; the private ‘in-ward looking’ homes, intricately carved columns, pilasters, cornices and balcoes i.e. a seating arrangement that exposed the denizens of the house to the people who passed it, so that there could be an uninhibited exchange of ‘hello, how’re yous?’ and other pleasantries between them. Crystal Lock passed by the houses, peering into each with a great deal of interest, in spite of mummy’s upbringing. (His mother would have told him it’s impolite, looking into people’s houses thusly. His hooves automatically came to a halt in front of one of them.

It wasn’t a particularly magnificent house, the one he instinctively stopped in front of. Yet it had a kind of appeal to it. Its body was comprised entirely of stucco stone and the roof was painted red. The window panes, incidentally painted white, were made of oyster shells in the form of lattice-work, instead of conventional glass. The name plate in front of the gate read ‘Mario Keshav Rodriguez’.

The capacious garden was split into two by a narrow pathway leading to the main-door of the house. On either side of the pathway stood a palm tree. A hammock was tied to the branches of one, on which lay a boy of about thirteen. True to Goans who liked leisure, the chap was enjoying his afternoon siesta. As Crystal Lock came and stood in front of the gate, the young boy’s eyelids automatically fluttered open, as if, he, with some telekinetic power, had sensed Crystal Lock’s presence. ‘Do come, dear horse’ the boy said in cooing, gentle tones, almost as if he had been expecting Crystal Lock ‘Look at you, how weak and frail you’ve become’.

The angelic young chap opened the gate and led the tired Crystal Lock in. He climbed the steps etched on the toddy tree nimbly, and adeptly poised himself on on one of the branches. He sliced a vein of the tree and collected the fluid that trickled down in a steady stream into a bucket. After about an hour, he descended from the tree and kept the sap filled bucket in front of the stallion. Crystal Lock sniffed at it suspiciously. ‘This doesn’t seem like water’ he thought to himself.

‘It’s just sur, stallion’ the boy coaxed Crystal Lock ‘Toddy sap’ he explained. ‘It would do you immense good to drink it, I assure you’. His eyes twinkled mischievously. It was as if the boy was privy to one of nature’s secrets which Crystal Lock was unaware of. Crystal Lock obediently dunked his muzzle and drunk up the entire queer, slightly intoxicating tasting fluid. A peculiar kind of wooziness came over him and he dozed off (after all, he too was eligible for an afternoon siesta, just like the other Goans!).

An hour later, he woke up. The first sight that usually met his eyes when he woke up was that of the ghastly gaping gash beneath his left knee. It wasn’t to be seen now—strange! Crystal Lock also didn’t feel the searing rawness he usually did around the area. Also, the stallion found that he could flex the rear leg joint easily, almost lithely. He looked down upon himself; yes, he still had a black coat and a mane, but it was shiny and lustrous, the way it had been in his youth. The pectoral muscles beneath his chest were delightfully healthy and tight, as was his barrel, his loin, croup and buttocks. Crystal Lock sprang up; something he hadn’t done in a long time. He felt so light and agile that he was convinced he was having horsey dreams (nightmares?) while still asleep. Yet he couldn’t be dreaming, for the toddy sap bucket lay very much palpable to the eyes, with a bit of ‘sur’ remaining. Crystal Lock licked the dregs; the sharp piquant taste assured him that this was no dream. He looked around for the young boy, but he was nowhere to be seen.

In the absence of his young guide, Crystal Lock unlatched the gate with his muzzle and led himself out. Instead, of turning back on the same road and retracing his step to the main road, he continued on ahead on the path that had brought him here. He walked a few kilometers without any trace of weariness. Crystal Lock was beginning to get spooked out now. It seemed like his old spirit had taken possession of some other equine’s body.

On the outskirts of the charming town, he came across a pool or water. Crystal Lock stopped for a drink of water. He closed his eyes and quenched his thirst for a second time. When he opened it he was in for the greatest bout of incredulity of the day. The reflection that gazed up at him was not his, a stallion’s, but a mare’s. Yes, she had his color and stature, but was beautifully and undeniably female. The poll on top of her head was thicker, her nostrils narrower and the throatlatch lovely and delicate.

With the instincts that only animals possess, Crystal Lock knew that her estrous cycle was on. She shyly approached a big young healthy stallion who was more than happy to insert his large penis into her declivity. Eleven months later, in early spring, Crystal Lock gave birth to a healthy young foal.

God bless the sap of that particular tree and the young boy who had offered it to Crystal Lock!

Dreams Don’t Die (Spring of Reincarnation) (English Edition)

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