is to let you know with profound sadness that our dearest friend and
most cherished artist Francis Newton Souza passed away peacefully and
painlessly on Thursday 28th March 2002, on Maundy Thursday in the evening
before Good Friday, in Bombay, India, of a sudden heart attack. He would
have turned 78 on April 12.
was serene, at peace, and was surrounded by love. I was with him. He said
to me, gently, "Do not exert yourself." My last words to him
were: "I'll be
All the best treatment and care was given to him, and he had no trauma,
passed into eternity and freedom gracefully, with his uniquely-special
beauty and courage.
passing into infinity came miraculously with the Holy Resurrection
on Good Friday. The burial was held intimately at Bombay's Sewrie Chapel
Cemetery at 11 a.m. on on Holy Saturday, the 30th March.
was a very special and evolved soul, and this timing of his sacred
journey is most appropriate. He was held lovingly in the arms of Christ
his mother, over the holy Easter weekend. Souza's final painting on Earth
was a magnificent Head of Christ, done, amazingly, just a few days earlier
had come home, to his motherland, India; and to Bombay, the city
where he grew up, went to Art College, and established India's Modern
Movement. He was in Bombay for Christmas, where an intimate celebration
arranged by my cousin and me in his honour.
then, in January, I took him with me to his native village, Goa, where
he painted a unique 'Goa Portfolio,' and also wrote new and inspiring
He was content, happy, and fulfilled by the richness of what he often
described to me as his "charmed life."
was a brilliant, fearless mind, a visionary, a pathfinder for future
generations, and a genuine friend.
Although he had lived in the west since 1949, first in England and then
New York, he had always said to me: "I am completely Indian."
He loved this country, its colours, its warmth, its food, its people,and
depth of ideas.
And he came home to his beloved motherland India every winter.
all his fire and angst, Souza had the most pure and child-like soul,
and he will be missed terribly by all of us who loved and admired him
learnt so much at his feet. He specially adored all who were young and
young at heart. "It is as a child that one enters the Kingdom of
pray with us all for him, and remember him always in your heart.
know, for sure, that he is happy, and safe, and painting again, in his
--- Srimati Lal / Curator, Souza's estate,
Bombay, March 30, 2002
last wish of Francis to me was that a permanent museum of all his works
be created by me in India, in his beloved motherland.
I tried, with all my heart, to give him happiness. And he said to me,
that I had succeeded in achieving this. But we must do our best to honour
his final wish.
can assure you that he did not suffer at all.
He had no such attack before the 28th, and was well. All his medical records
were fine. As all his other moments, these too were completely natural
graceful. He had painted a picture of Christ, just days before that. He
a happy and peaceful morning with me. After his bath, at 9.30 a.m.,he
reclined gracefully and silently into his chair, threw up a bit, and I
immediately called the ambulance. He recovered completely for some hours
after the first attack, but his arteries were not strong enough to withstand
the second one, after around 7.30 p.m.
But when he saw me before that, on my leaving the ICU, he was serene,
content, trusting and safe, with all his senses intact; he looked like
small boy, and I told him I would be back soon after his tests were done.
had no pain; it was all sudden, and he did not worry. He had no complaints
funeral and burial (arranged by me and 2 close friends) on Good Friday,
the 30th March, at 11 a.m. at Bombay's Sewri Cemetery, was beautiful and
perfect. It is in Bombay that Francis grew up, studied at Art College,
where his beloved mother is buried. I selected a beautifully-carved golden
teak coffin, covered with his favourite gorgeous flowers. I placed his
favourite white lilies, pink roses and red carnations on his heart. I
designed a marble angel to protect his tombstone, and the grave will bear
his beautiful words: "Nature is the Sole Principle."
sang 'Abide with me', and the air was peaceful and mellow. It is good
that there were no hysterical and meaningless crowds.
laid his favourite white lilies, pink and yellow roses and red carnations
on his beautiful artist's heart. And my mischievous little angel Francis,
pet, is now safe, and sound asleep, in the lap of his beautiful and loving
mother. Soon he will be painting again, across the Infinite Universe!
With all my prayers and thanks -- pray with us,
after the burial;