The renowned literary figure, a veteran author and a Gujarati columnist of former times Father Carlos Gonzalez Valles SJ (Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order known for its education mission), also known as Father Valles, was honoured with the Padma Shri posthumously in January 2021, in the field of literature and education.
His journey in India started in the year 1949 when he was sent here as a missionary. He spent nearly 50 years in India and wrote extensively on Gujarati literature. He was one of the most loved teachers in Ahmedabad’s St Xavier’s College, where he was asked to teach mathematics to the Gujarati students, in 1960.
A Spaniard with an Amdavadi heart, he was lovingly boasted of as ‘Savaya Gujarati’ (a Gujarati at heart). He believed that language is a gift of God, and, he always emphasised that a person should always respect the mother tongue and a national language.
He was born on November 4, 1925, in Logrono, Spain. At the age of 10, then he witnessed some uncertainties in his life such as a Spanish Civil war proliferated due to which he and his mother fled their house. He then joined a Jesuit school and soon he entered a novitiate at the age of 15.
In his early years in India, he completed an MA in mathematics in 1953 from Madras University and pursued his interest to learn Gujarati and English languages.
He penned around 75 books in Gujarati, 24 in English and 42 in Spanish; he contributed several articles to newspapers. His work has also been translated into Chinese and European languages. Some of the notable Gujarati books include Sadachar, lagnasagar, Gandhiji ane navi pedhi, Kutumb Mangal, Dharma Mangal, Jivan Darshan, College Darshan, Gharna Prashno .
He left his imprint on Gujarat, through his literary work.
He initially found it difficult to publish his Gujarati book Sadachar, but when it was, it was a huge literary success. He also wrote several essays in Gujarati; these include Maru Sukh Maru Dukh, Jeevani Taiyari, Mor ane Dhel.
His writings won him several recognitions and accolades such as the Kumar Gold Medal, the Ranjitram Gold Medal, the Saccidananand Appreciation Award among others.
Despite his literary and religious obligations, he never veered away from his primary love – of teaching mathematics – he retired from the profession in 1990 and returned to Madrid, Spain. He breathed his last, late last year on November 9.
His Padma Shri Award is a testimony to his contribution to the nation.
By Cindrella Daryani