MANGALURU: It was time for introspection and thanksgiving to the Almighty for all the favours received at the ancestral house of Mangalore City South MLA J R Lobo on Thursday.

Lobo, 61, had Christmas lunch with his aged mother Cecilia, wife Philomena Lobo, sons Keith and Rahul, in-laws, and other relatives at Koudoor, Kolambe Village near Bajpe.

“Christmas, Easter and Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary are celebrated at my mother’s place without fail. It also takes me to my roots and keeps me grounded,” said Lobo.

There is joy all around when Lobo enters the house. His mother Cecilia, 93, greets her son and exclaims: “I thought you were a priest looking at the kurta you are wearing!”

“Though my mother lost her hearing a year ago, her eyes are sharp. But she takes time to comprehend. She is always used to see me in formals,” Lobo says with a smile.

Cecilia asks who the visitors are and Lobo writes down the names in a book and shows her. “Oh! You are from Kodial (Mangaluru),” she says, rattling a few questions. “If you had visited last year when her hearing was perfect, she would have started her story when she was 12 years-old and would have dug out your family history,” says Philomena. “She refuses to wear a hearing aid and this is how we communicate with her,” says her grandson Keith, who is with wife Teresa for the occasion. Rahul working in Malaysia specially made it for the family get-together.

The lunch is Christmassy and is traditional with three meat dishes, hand-pressed seviyan, salad, rice, tomato rasam and some kuswar to boot. “My mother-in-law does not eat chicken and sister-in-law (Stella) does not like mutton. Pork is a must during any celebration. So we have three meat dishes,” says Philomena. The meal, needless to say, is delicious.

After the heavy meal, Lobo walks down the memory lane. Our mother is our strength. She raised all four sons with hardship. She reared chicken, sold eggs in Mangaluru. She was a teacher and knew the value of education. We used to walk five miles to school after finishing our house work. Those days were hard,” recalls Lobo, who lost his father when he was just 12. His father was also a teacher.

His house is surrounded by dense foliage. “I grew amidst greenery and that was my inspiration behind setting up Pilikula Nisargadhama. When I suggested we have tigers at Pilikula, the Zoo Authority said this area was not suitable for tigers. I told them don’t go by what is written in books. I had tigers for company when I grew up,” he said pointing out at areas where tigers prowled and how his mother had a near escape from the big cat due to presence of mind.

Lobo was the founder executive director of Pilikula Project and successfully developed the project for 18 years.

Courtesy: Times of India