As told by Raquel Amaral
to Eeshita Kapadiya and Nishtha Manchanda

Raquel takes us on a walk through Cancio’s House, her 500 year old Goan-Portuguese home and their family-run homestay, in the village of Aldona. 

While hundreds of antiques line every inch of their walls, the most intriguing collections were Raquel’s own keepsakes - remnants of her childhood tucked away in corners, standing quietly within the legacy of the Amaral family.

Her collections speak of her life, her love for her home and her relationship with her 90 year old mother-in-law.

What is the doll's name?

I had named her Cinderella but she had different names along the way. She's an all time favorite. I had a naughty brother who broke her leg. In those days to have a doll, which closed her eyes and opened was such a big thing, all my friends were so envious.

And why have you still held onto her?

It's just that I've had her all my life. So it was something that I couldn't let go of. My mother always stitched clothes for them. This doll is as old as I am. So it's already 48 years old.

Do you still have those little dresses?

No, I gave them away to other children. I have not kept everything. I have a few more dolls, but I don't know where they are. I got them with me here. 

And what do you think is the future of Cinderella?

I hope to give it to my granddaughter. Unfortunately I have no daughters.

Do you have any fond memories related the doll?

I always had this doll when I walked around. I used to carry this doll all over, so in the village, people used to say “Babe's in the woods”. I used to walk with the doll in one hand, and hold my little brother’s hand in the other. How many times have I bathed it? Don’t ask me. My dad got it from Muscat. I have a picture of it from when I was about a year old.

How do you make that decision: something to give away or something to keep for the house?

Like I said, sometimes there's some things that you just know.

“I love the idea and I don't want it to get lost. Eventually I think the next generation might not even know what this is. I will show it to my kids as they grow up.”

(Above: A tea cozy embroidered by Raquel’s mother-in-law, Maria Amaral.)

What are the kinds of pieces your mother-in-law has embroidered ?

She's made different pieces. Then she's done frames, bedsheets, which of course she's given away to her other children. Amazing stuff! All her kids love her embroidery, especially now that she's 90 years old and she's doing something like this.

What do these pieces mean to you?

I just get emotional seeing them. I feel like they are a part of my mother-in-law's and her mother’s legacy. Also these little things show the time and the patience and the love they had for the home. They just didn't buy some plastic cover or some random thing. No, it is done with perfection and patience and love. And that's what it means at the end of the day.

How do you take care of these pieces?

I usually keep them in the cupboard. If I use them, I make sure certain things are hand washed and put back, they have to be properly sundried, cupboards are cleaned every two years or so, I dust up everything. I am highly allergic to dust but I still do it. Because these things shouldn't go but, I know this was going to fray eventually. 

What do you think is the future of this collection?

The thing is that I intend on educating my children about this. Right now they're young boys. I'm waiting for my kids to grow up a little more. As young boys and young men they won't see any value in it now. When I was their age, I did not think of it that way either. So once they grow a little older I'll tell them - you know, this means so much, this is done that way and then whoever stays with the home will decide whether they will carry it on, or not.

(Right: An embroiderd frame by Maria’s sister, Anita Sequeira.)