Author(s): Richard Zimler
By the time the 16th century was drawing to a close in the Portuguese colony of Goa, the Inquisition was making admirable progress in its mission to convert all 'sorcerers' - whether native Hindus or immigrant Jews - to Christianity. A progress helped, no doubt, by the availability of alternatives: those who refused to betray others or give up their beliefs were strangled by executioners or burnt alive in public autos-da-fe. By living just outside the colony, under the benign auspices of the Sultan of Bijapur, the Zarco family manages to stick firm to their Portuguese-Jewish roots. Ti and his sister Sofia enjoy a peaceful childhood learning to illustrate manuscripts with their father, and secretly dipping into the heady chaos of the Hindu festivals celebrated by their beloved cook Nupi.