TO MY FRANCIS, WITH
LILIES AND A RED ROSE
This 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.
He 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 back."
All the best treatment and care was given to him, and he had no
trauma, but passed into eternity and freedom gracefully, with
his uniquely-special beauty and courage.
Souza's passing into infinity came miraculously with the Holy
Resurrection on Good Friday. The burial was held intimately at
Bombay's Sewrie Chapel and Cemetery at 11 a.m. on on Holy Saturday,
the 30th March.
Francis 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 and 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 this March.
Francis 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 Art Movement. He was in Bombay for Christmas, where
an intimate celebration was arranged by my cousin and me in his
And 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 prose. He was content, happy, and fulfilled
by the richness of what he often described to me as his "charmed
Souza 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 in New York, he had always said to me: "I am completely
He loved this country, its colours, its warmth, its food, its
people,and its depth of ideas.
And he came home to his beloved motherland India every winter.
Beneath 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 and 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 Heaven!"
Please pray with us all for him, and remember him always in your
I know, for sure, that he is happy, and safe, and painting again,
in his Infinite Universe.
--- Srimati Lal / Curator, Souza's estate,
Bombay, March 30, 2002
The 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, often, that I had succeeded in achieving this. But we must
do our best to honour his final wish.
I 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 and graceful. He had painted a picture of Christ, just
days before that. He had a happy and peaceful morning with me.
After his bath, at 9.30 a.m.,he just 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 my small boy, and I told him I would be back soon
after his tests were done. He had no pain; it was all sudden,
and he did not worry. He had no complaints at all.
The 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, and 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 have designed a
marble angel to protect his tombstone, and the grave will bear
his beautiful words: "Nature is the Sole Principle."
We sang 'Abide with me', and the air was peaceful and mellow.
It is good that there were no hysterical and meaningless crowds.
I laid his favourite white lilies, pink and yellow roses and
red carnations on his beautiful artist's heart. And my mischievous
little angel Francis, my 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,
March 30, 2002,
after the burial;