Sometimes, when the sun is setting over a village called Aldona, and the evening bread is delivered on the backs of bicycles, you can convince yourself that Goa is all right. When Reginald or Tulsidas or Lata or Maria stand at the front gate speaking to that passerby at dusk, and the urak season starts slipping into the feni days, so all you smell on the road is the arch fermentation of cashew apples: yes, it’s OK.
But then you think about the beaches, the ones with the plastic bags in the water, which you mistook for jellyfish, and the shards of glass from the beer bottles carried into the waves, which now churn with sewage from the septic tanks. Those beaches; you can forget those beaches.
And the hills and roadsides, covered in garbage, blossoming like wildflower. And the earth inland that mining has stripped bare and turned rust-red, leaving peacocks dead from contaminated groundwater. The Mandovi river, too, full of floating casinos and effluent. You can forget these things. And you can remember Goa’s ghosts.