that day, back in 2007, mr. Rosario glowed. he seemed genuinely delighted to finally speak his mother tongue again, even to a complete stranger who had just shown up on his doorstep, clumsily trying to explain how he'd heard a rumour that the last speaker of creole portuguese in the whole of
that day, back in 2007, mr. Rozario showed no sign of discomfort. the next day, however, he was in intense pain from his back, and it rhythmically broke his voice while he apologised for not being able to help me with my recordings.
that day, back in 2007, i was immediately touched by the warmth of mr. Rosario's welcome and the easy smile of his family. three years and a few letters later, when i returned to their vypeen cottage, i was treated like an old friend and shown right through to the Rosarios' dinner table. their remarkable generosity, i could see, was still vital, and so was mr. Rosario's patience: he agreed to spend nearly a week teaching me about that language he alone carried around.
that was last january. and now, late at night, an email (how unfittingly prosaic!) arrives announcing that 'Mr William expired on the 20 of August at 1.15 am'.
i cannot find the right register to simultaneously report the demise of a kind friend and the death of a language: one is worthy of primal grief, the other probably requires cool and composed factuality. but i mourn the two. mr. Rosario is gone, leaving his family and friends lonelier. and gone is also the mother tongue of five centuries' worth of cochin families, modest witness to an encounter which changed the order of the world. leaving us all that much poorer. and i will leave it at that. silence now.