sábado, 2 de maio de 2009

Deolinda da Conceição: 1914-1957

Em Macau (década de 1940) recém-chegada de Hong Kong onde viveu num campo de refugiados durante a Guerra do Pacífico.
Num almoço no Hotel Riviera... à sua direita, Luis Gonzaga Gomes, colunista do NM, escritor, historiador, editor e director do museu de camões; à esquerda, Herman Machado Monteiro, o proprietário do Notícias de Macau
(...) Na senda aberta pelo desaparecimento de “A Voz de Macau”, com a morte do seu proprietário e director, esse republicano ferrenho e democrata de gema, Capitão Domingos Gregório da Rosa Duque, surgiu a 25 de Agosto de 1947, o “Notícias de Macau”, fundado por Hermman Machado Monteiro, também figura marcante de republicano e democrata, esse português de lei, que nasceu eu Celorico de Basto e adoptou Macau como sua segunda terra natal. Aqui viveu a maior parte da sua vida. Aqui amou, sofreu e lutou, sempre de olhar fito na Bandeira verde-rubra, no engrandecimento da Pátria distante e no desenvolvimento económico desta terra. E aqui deixou os seus ossos, sonhando sempre no regresso do Sol da Liberdade e da Democracia. E morreu sem ter a suprema consolação de raiar a Alvorada de Abril.Não é sem emoção que recordo os vinte e oito anos vividos naquele velho casarão da Calçado do Tronco Velho – hoje demolido e substituído por um moderno edifício multi-pisos, denominado “Edifício Dr. Caetano Soares” – onde funcionavam a Direcção, Administração, Redacção e Oficinas do jornal de Hermman Machado Monteiro. E hoje, funciona o “Jornal de Macau”, dirigido pelo colega João Fernandes. Em “O Pós de um Prefácio”, no livro de contos “Cheong Sam” (“A Cabaia”) de Deolinda da Conceição, sua Mãe, reeditado em 1979 (23 anos após o aparecimento da primeira edição, em Lisboa) estampou António Conceição Júnior estas palavras que valem bem uma legenda.“... O velho casarão da Calçada do Tronco Velho, que alojava o Notícias de Macau, ameaça ruína. Já no teu tempo o sobrado devia ranger. Porém, tu, Luís Gomes, Cassiano da Fonseca, Hermman Machado Monteiro, Rosa Duque, Patrício Guterres, meu Pai, o velho tipógrafo Jacob, defrontavam, quotidianamente, nocturnamente, em máquinas anacrónicas, a aventura de um diário. Hoje, as tábuas já não rangem. Usa-se betão armado...” (fim da citação)Tantos lustros volvidos, lembro-me, com profunda saudade, desses vinte e oito anos (1947-1975). E, ao lançar um olhar retrospectivo pela senda percorrida, na vida daquele diário de expressão portuguesa, como jornalista sem canudo nem carteira profissional, apagado e quase anónimo, perpassam pela minha retina, numa sequência sucessiva de imagens, como no desenrolar de um filme cinematográfico, caras amigas daqueles camaradas de trabalho que, ao longo desses anos, foram tombando, um a um, a meio da jornada. E também daqueles que, felizmente, estão vivos, alguns deles aqui presentes.A evocação dessas sombras que passam, dariam um livro de memórias. Por hoje limito-me a evocar a nossa homenageada desta tarde.

Excertos de um texto de Patrício Guterres escrito em 1987 por ocasião do 30º aniversário do falecimento de Deolinda da Conceoção e publicado na Gazeta Macaense.

Introduction to Deolinda da Conceição
By Professor David Brookshaw Bristol University
Deolinda da Conceição was a woman both of her times and in advance of her times. Born in Macau in 1914, as a young woman she experienced the hardships and perils of the War of the Pacific: in 1941, she was caught up in the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, where she was working as a teacher and translator, later went to Shanghai with her first husband, where she was interned in a concentration camp before being released and returning to Macau alone, by this time a divorcee with two young children. After the end of the war, she worked as a journalist on the territory’s main newspaper, Notícias de Macau, writing the women’s page, as well as literary and art reviews. But it was in the pages of the newspaper that she also wrote “crónicas” (chronicles), a popular genre widespread in the press of the Portuguese-speaking world given its focus on a moral theme or contemporary issue, illustrated by the narration of an incident drawn from everyday life. She also wrote longer fiction and essays. In 1948, she married her fellow journalist and long-time friend, António Conceição, by whom she had her third son in 1951. She was the lone female voice among a group of Macanese intellectuals which emerged after the austere war years and flourished during the 1950s. Macau at this time was still a small, provincial city, and its society highly conservative, and one can imagine that Deolinda, a divorced woman, and a writer into the bargain, would have stood out as a dangerously free spirit, much as she would have done, it must be said, if she had lived in Portugal during the same period.Her short stories, some of which had already appeared in the press, were published as a collection in Portugal in 1956, under the title Cheong-Sam, A Cabaia. As suggested by the title, the unifying theme that characterizes all the tales, is the position of women in China and Macau: educated Chinese women, often brought up in urban Western ways, struggling for respect and emancipation in the face of traditional patriarchy in a China that, rather in the manner of Pearl Buck, is often portrayed in quite abstract terms; women of the people struggling against the oppression of grinding poverty or the effects of war, both of which the author had witnessed at close quarters in mainland China and in Macau; and finally women who are often the victims, and sometimes the perpetrators of superstitious beliefs. There are also tales of love, often destined to a sad end because they seem to cross insurmountable social and economic or racial barriers, such as in the tragic story of a poor woman seduced by an educated man, who sees her as a concubine and not a wife, or the tale of a poverty-stricken girl’s love for a Portuguese soldier, who is recalled to his distant homeland, but not before he has made her pregnant. As a Macanese, and therefore a product herself of the long centuries of fusion, Deolinda had a special sympathy for themes relating to inter-racial love and its effects.Deolinda da Conceição’s stories are exemplary tales, which invite us to ponder on the pitfalls of material ambition, even if such aspirations are relatively modest, such as in a little girl’s desire for a pretty pair of shoes or a young woman’s desire for a jade ring, and to reflect on the determinants of pride and prejudice, such as in the shame felt by a young Eurasian boy at his Chinese mother’s behaviour, in a still stratified colonial society. Deolinda’s world is often a bleak one, characterized by the masculine pursuit of war, unremitting oppression and social inequalities. Only occasionally is there a glimmer of human solidarity, such as when a group of invading Japanese soldiers protect a new-born child, or a colonial policeman shows a group of destitute refugees to a bread queue, or a model, who has her career cut short by an accident, turns to adopting orphaned children. Altruism and a happier ending seem possible when her characters follow the path of resignation and abstinence, or when they somehow relinquish the role by which they are defined socially.We cannot tell how Deolinda would have chronicled the changes that took place in Macau and China over subsequent decades, for she died prematurely in 1957. But her stories, and the role she played in the rebirth of the Portuguese-language press after the War, make her a unique figure in the literatures of Macau, China and the Portuguese-speaking world.
David Brookshaw is Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies at the Bristol University, England. He has published widely on the colonial and post-colonial literature of the Portuguese-speaking world, most recently a study entitled, Perceptions of China in Modern Portuguese Literature - Border Gates.

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