Author: Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar
A brilliantly penned book, this is a collection of short stories, all based in Jharkhand, particularly featured around the Santhal tribe.
The book brings out the raw and grim reality of ‘survival’ practices adopted by the tribe for ages. Sadly even after years of Independence, there are many such pockets in our country where basic education for girls is considered taboo. Women who need to be blamed for something are termed ‘witches’ and ostracised brutally. Women and even young girls don’t hesitate to sell their souls along with their bodies if it means putting food into their hungry stomachs.
The author has been brazen in his portrayal and some of the scenes are disturbing to read. However, it’s also gut-wrenching to see the plight of the real backward class who don’t get the benefits of reservations. For generations, they have been exploited by the rich in their villages and other fortune seekers who acquired (read, forcibly) their land for the rich ore beneath the fertile or barren lands.
The stigma associated with the clan doesn’t leave them even when they migrate to other states in search of better opportunities. They are labeled and tainted and called names.
The book is a huge eye-opener to those of us who in our cushy lifestyles are blissfully ignorant of the ground realities in the lesser-known corners of the country.