09 October 2009
By Ram Parmar
Twenty–two–year–old Genevieve Gomes is perhaps the only link to understand what went on in the dysfunctional Gomes household for seven years. Rescued four months before her sisters and mother, she now works in an accountancy firm and says she is “Happy with her life.”
On Wednesday, she appeared with her lawyer at Thane District Court to attend a hearing on her appeal for medical treatment for her father, Francis Gomes, 60.
Speaking exclusively to this newspaper she spoke about living with her father and what led their seemingly normal family to unravel. Unlike her mother and sisters who can hardly speak because they are so traumatised Genevieve is more in control of herself. Earlier in the day she confidently pleaded before Chief Judicial Magistrate S M Bhosale for medical treatment for Gomes, and her willingness to bear all the expenses. During the interview, conducted in the office of social worker R Gopalakrishnan who rescued her mother and sisters last week, Genevieve was composed and measured in her response. Eschewing bitterness or any effort to dramatise her already sensational story, she spoke of wanting to get her father medical treatment and also her desire for all of them to lead a ’happy and normal life.’
Q: For how long, before the family was rescued, was your father Francis Gomes mentally torturing you and your mother and sisters?
A: My father started all this (torture) seven years ago. At that time we were staying at Four Bungalows, Andheri. He was then employed and worked at Morarji Mills as a supervisor.
Q: Why do you think he started getting abnormally possessive about the family? What triggered this?
A: He had always been a short tempered. Often when he returned from his shift at the mill he would be angry. Usually it was my mother Theresa who bore the brunt (of his temper) but slowly he began turning on the three of us.
Q: Is it true that he insisted on cooking and also doing the other household chores?
A: Yes, he used to say that mom was a bad cook and would spoil things, so he used to cook for us and did not allow us to do so. He also used to do the chores like washing clothes, mopping the house, and other jobs also.
Q: He also conducted computer classes.
A: Yes, he used to. We had one computer in our Naigaon home and students would come to take lessons. He used to charge Rs 1,000 for a three month course. I don’t know any other detail.
Q: How did your father run the house? How did he met expenses?
A: My father had sold our Andheri flat some years ago, we used to run the house with the proceeds from that sale.
Q: What triggered your father to start torturing the family?
A: My father did not want me or my sisters to go out of the house as he believed that bad things would befall upon us. Barbara (the youngest sister) failed in her TY BSc exams twice which greatly angered him and he would hit her. When I was studying at the Gonsalo Garcia College at Vasai for my B.Com he insisted on accompanying me…Basically it all began with his temper which was always bad when he returned home from the mill, and then he would assault us.
Q: How would you want the law to handle this?
A: I want my dad to get cured and not go to jail. He should get the same treatment from a government registered psychiatrist, just as my mother and my sisters are getting. I want him to become normal.
Q: Were church authorities at Vasai aware of your father ill–treating you and the family?
A: No. Because my father would not let us (family members) talk to anyone. Absolutely no one was aware about it. But I gather, that the Church was aware of some of the things that were going on in our home.
Q: Did you and the family ever celebrate Christmas or any other festivals? Did your relatives ever visit the family?
A: We celebrated Christmas regularly at home. Sometimes we used to go to the Pali (in Vasai) Church with our father. No relatives, except for an uncle from Chembur, visited us, sometimes.
Q: Did you ever confide about the torture to any of your friends and relatives?
A: No. For one, I never got the chance to and second it would have caused us much embarrassment in society.
Q: So how did your rescue come about?
A: My father never wanted me to be financially independent but I felt suffocated, as I am a B Com graduate with second class, and want to earn a decent salary and help my family. My father believed that if I went out to work I would get into bad company. I desperately wanted to get out and be rescued, so I contacted Sunila Bhise the NGO representative who eventually rescued me in June.
(Bhise who is in the same room listening in on the interview interrupts: ’We got to know about Genevieve from local hurch authorities so in May we visited her at ome and saw the conditions they lived in at first hand. Also Genevieve herself wanted to be rescued, so we helped her’).
Q: How would your describe your life now?
A: Life is good. I am now financially independent and want the same for my sisters and mother. I am working in an accountancy firm and earning a salary of Rs five and a half thousand.
Q: What is your wish after your father is released on bail?
A: That he should get immediate medical treatment so that he can lead a happy and normal life. I will repeat, I don’t want him to go to jail but get admission in a hospital for treatment.