Hope lies here, in the roots of this our land

Hope lies here, in the roots of this our land. 

Last night two activists spent the night with me. They have been beaten by police, fabricated cases filed on them, jailed, their colleagues killed by so called Maoist ultras funded by Coal companies, police fired on their people killing three etc etc

They asked me:
“Brother What is happening in England regarding democracy?”. “Whats happened in our Amazon with our Adivasi relatives” 

The conversation then went to the Indian economy.
They already knew about the loot of RBI reserve funds and unemployment surge.
-The other WhatsUp University guys.

Then one of them said
“What ever is to happen, it cannot be worse than what we and our people have gone through ever since our birth.”
“We are ready/prepared, we will fight, jail is a better place, at least we get food and will not be hungry” 
“We are not Chintabarams or Vijay Malayas” they said.

Both were off to a workshop on the Indian Constitution, both had copies of it! (funny I do not)
Both are Dalit farmers fathers of school going children.

Hearing them I can say there is hope for India!

Daughter of darkness

Germane a ‘Poona girl” travelled many a path to find the one she sought –relevance. From joining the mission of healing with the Medical Mission Sisters, to moving out of their institutions to work with a Jesuit missionary in the Santhal Adivasi homeland, to moving further out into the forest of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand where she finally settled to work and be one with them in revered relevance.

In the twenty odd years we knew each other we could meet on not more than three or four occasions. Yet I remember well that we never exchanged more than a few dozen words. But she conveyed enough for me to know her more deeply than she probably guessed.

Stubbornly determined she stuck deep there to serve a people being dispossessed and pauperised by the outside world. To empower them she built a school, a boarding, a chain of health clinics and microcredit groups for women.

Silly enough to risk her own health needs that finally shortened her precious life she died on 5th April 08. At her funeral as I stood in that deep forest experiencing such glory such bonding and such blindness of the religion of my birth, I just could not help penning these feelings on the blackboard of my mind. I owe this to her – the one who may never be remembered in history (and I am sure couldn’t have cared less), but who went on to make it………

Daughter of darkness[i]

 Unseen she just wanted to be
Detached, silent, from us –her we
In search of love
She went aground
And grew a tree with fruits of love

No trumpets, no fuss, no flatter
A messenger minus the clatter
Their being, was all she lived to be.
Their flesh, their word, their humanity
Enliven with her humble humility
One with them in their eternity

For Sarhul[ii], she called us all.
“Come, Come ye all”
“Partake of the Mahua[iii] fall”
“Spring has come and so has my call

Covered by a dense crowd
There she hid
Peeping though heaps of shroud[iv]
A teasing wink, yellow turmeric paste,
Her beautiful brown face
Was all she bared in that haste

And then they came en masse
To rescue her back, after mass
A mass, so genuine and germane
From the concluded ritual profane
One people, one body, hoisted her
It just couldn’t be any grander
Such attention she once detested
Now in slumber she just couldn’t resist it
Yelling multitudes marched in rounds
Drummers, trumpeters around the grounds

No Saints go marching here
No heaven’s inn to get in
No burning hell too to fear
As saintly women anointed her
To be their new ancestor

Xavier Dias 6th April 2008

 


[i] The Adivasis of Jharkhand have been an unacknowledged people and kept in the darkness of any human rights.

[ii] The Santhal festival of spring

[iii] A beautiful spring flower of the Mahua tree a staple food as well as used to make alcohol.

[iv] The number of shrouds people brought to cover her on her final journey was overwhelming