Tuesday, April 01, 2014

An Adivasi (Indian aboriginal) speaks

I was here before you.

This was our land.

Is.




We had our own ancient civilisation going, which you destroyed because it didn’t suit your idea of civilisation.

And then you chased us down, forcing us to flee deeper into the forests, in our attempts to escape your kind. Even there you would not leave us in peace. You chased us relentlessly, bent on destroying all we hold sacred and dear. Leaving us in abject poverty.

We worship nature. Worship too the cycles and circles it revels in. We live off the earth, and in time, we turn to ashes and dust. But that’s hardly enough for you.

I have watched my children go to sleep hungry. Their thin, emaciated bodies shivering with the emptiness that gnaws them from deep within their bellies. I have foraged for discarded mango pits and have crushed them open so that I can watch my children suck the marrow within. I have watched the young ones fight over things you unthinkingly throw into the garbage.

You’d be surprised at how little a body can survive on. I’ve known hunger, sharper than you’ve ever known.

I’ve seen you eye my land and grab it, all in the name of development and the greatest good of all. Whose good? Not mine.

My land was once rich, pregnant with life, teeming with wealth, ore and gold. Until your greed settled upon it. Now I have been rehabilitated to this piece of lifeless soil that should be ashamed to call itself earth. Cracked and parched with thirst, it hears not our cries for help. We try to tickle her with our axes and hoes, but her heart is made of stone. Like yours.

It won’t yield.

Today I am only fit to be discussed in your anthropology and sociology classes, where my quaint ways excite conversation and debate. Where youngsters discuss my way of life. A way of life they profess to appreciate for the benefit of a few good marks. A way of life they learn to deride when they join the rat race.

My plight will move you for a while, but it scarcely has the power to hold your attention for very long. Nobody recognises our rights. We live subhuman lives. We are the displaced, dispossessed,

My children are fierce. Despite the hunger within their bellies.

They believe the truth we’ve been passing down the generations. They think that we have worth just because we were here before you.

But I’ve lived long enough to know better. The meek do not inherit the earth. The meek only watch their inheritance stolen and squandered.

This is our land.



Was.






55 comments:

  1. How beautiful. I just watched a documentary on the removal of the Cherokee Indian from their lands in Georgia and Tennessee. It made me angry and sad and I could not help but to think of them when I read your essay.

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  2. A deeply touching post to start of the month.

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  3. This is really moving. Well, I am ashamed to write even that because it would not mean anything to them whose land and livelihood, very life was stolen.
    Your writing has magic, Cynthia.

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  4. how touching! A sad reality indeed!I have met the jarawa tribe! I truly identify with this post

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  5. Wow. This is powerful and many throughout the world understand - deeply, intimately.

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  6. Truly beautiful. We are pimping our lands in the name of civilization. When we buy a new home, we seldom think of the land where it is built upon.

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  7. First post I've read to start the A to Z and wow, such raw honesty, really moved me...great start to the month. As Shail said, your writing does indeed have magic.

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  8. So true. Once their land is occupied and they are made homeless, they become the "minority" and given a different label. They end up fighting for what was theirs in the first place.

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  9. It's just heartbreaking how we abuse and exploit the native people...people who truly understand the land!
    Well written, Cynthia!

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  10. Hi, Denise, unfortunately, almost every nation is guilty of exploiting the original people of their land. And equally unfortunately, no mainstream newspaper or TV channel considers it an issue worth talking about,

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  11. Hi, Shail, there is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, if more people spoke about their plight, it might make the smallest difference somewhere. Thank you for saying such nice things about my writing. Who was it that said that when the heart is full, the right words pop out?

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  12. Hi, Rajrupa, the story of India's tribes is very sad. We don't even know how many tribes have disappeared into oblivion.

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  13. Thank you, Vee, I hope many make an attempt to think of them. What rich cultures they must have had and how low we have brought them!

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  14. Thank you, Janu, you said it. All those real estate companies that promise us a home in paradise, they don't talk about where the original residents of Paradise have been banished.

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  15. Thank you, MaggieW, for starting with my post. I am honoured.

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  16. Yes, that's true, Prathima Rao, unfortunately, they are not minorities that any political party wants to take up for.

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  17. You said it perfectly, Roshni, only they truly understand the land. The rest of us just pretend to have a deep connection with it.

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  18. Cynthia, this is A+ writing. Soul wrenching to the core. Your 'WAS' at the end hammered the last nail in the coffin. And this is something we do, day in and out, with so many aspects of our life. What a thought provoking start to the challenge!

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  19. True that we always fail to think of others who also have the EQUAL rights like us to live and relish the nature:( Sad status

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  20. Wow this sad and sorry state of affairs you have penned so amazingly and drawn attention to this fact that we are and should seriously be ashamed at the fact that we have stolen land, livelihood and the essence of life from people, humans just like you and me and are waging wars over others.

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  21. How well you write Cynthia. And all this is done in the name of progress. Sometimes I wonder if we've progressed or regressed?

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  22. You knocked me out at hello. When you wrote:

    I was here before you.

    This was our land.

    Is.

    IS. WoW!!
    Dagny

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  23. poignant and very thought provoking and something that is simply forgotten, well written

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  24. I could picture the whole scene in front of my eyes while I read it. Truly, a sad state of affairs and in a way, we are responsible for it.

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  25. Very touching Cynthia.We chose to ignore so many things but your words made me think and question a recent acquisition.Thank you!

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  26. Very touching! After my recent visit to the jungles and meeting up with a tribal group, this sounds even more realistic.

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  27. Cynthia, this is a brilliant piece of work. Dark, but you have said it the way it is. I'm bookmarking you right away. Looking forward to more such posts!

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  28. Thought provoking. Leads the reader to know more about the adivasi's of modern India. Time to decide, who is the real one..

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  29. Gosh, Cynthia, this is utterly GORGEOUS! You have a deliciously evocative style, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

    A powerful story indeed, and writ most excellently. I *almost* felt sorry for them, but reading about the fierce children, I slightly feel as though I should more take pity on whichever person they come to wreak vengeance against, for I am sure it will fall, some unwitting day, the sky falling on their heads.

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  30. Beautiful, lyrical, poignant. You have a gift. Gail at Making Life An Art

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  31. There was a time in Ranchi, the Adivasi's were treated like lepers and worse than inhumans. The treatment has changed but not the mindset. Our culture is hypocritical when they teach us about secularism and in the same breath, keeps the adivasi kids away from the schools there the thakur kids go. Well written !!

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  32. Beautiful Cynthia. More power to your words. Very moving, and indeed a reality to very many people

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  33. Thank you, Vinita, I consider that a big, big compliment. Next to writing something that appeals to oneself, is the appreciation from people whose writing one also respects.

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  34. Yes, Afshan, the state of tribals in our country is perhaps the sorriest of all. They are forgotten completely.

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  35. Thank you for being the voice of those whose voice isn't heard in India. Impressive take on the challenge!

    Damyanti Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2014

    Twitter: @damyantig
    #atozchallenge

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  36. Hi, Jaibala, exactly, no matter how good we are in all other respects, this one thing we are all guilty of. We are all leading good lives at the expense of others.

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  37. Suzy, depends on our definition of progress, I guess. If development is what constitutes progress, along with new inventions, and conveniences, then we have. But if progress means sustainable development, then we have a very poor score indeed.

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  38. Dagny, mi amiga, I am so happy to hear you say that. So glad you liked it. Muchas gracias!

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  39. Hi, Karan, welcome to my space, and thank you very much.

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  40. Hi, Pooja, Yes, we are. They don't have food to eat, and we have the latest gadgets.

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  41. Rekha, you met a group of tribals. Do share your experiences. I'd love to hear about it.

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  42. Thank you for your words of appreciation. Rama, imagine how much darker their lives are. How miserable they must be feeling at not being able to give their children even the bare necessities.

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  43. I guess you are right, Lizzi, It is only a matter of time before they begin to rally together and fight for their rights. I hope their struggle is successful.

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  44. Thank you for your words of appreciation, Gail.

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  45. Hi, Rubina, You said it perfectly. The treatment has changed, but our attitude towards them is no better than it used to be.

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  46. Thank you, Nischala, we need to give these voiceless people a voice, don't we?

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  47. Thank you, Damyanti, for this super challenge, and the opportunity to express ourselves.

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  48. you express so well... it is truly sad that the plight of the tribal people are not taken care into..

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  49. Thank you, simple girl, the tribal people are truly the marginalised of our country, because no one even speaks of them.

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  50. Gosh Cynthia! I wonder how I missed out reading your blog yesterday. It really is shameful what position and power can do to an entire community of simpletons. Thanks for bringing this out in the open with brtual honesty.

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  51. This brought tears to my eyes. It could easily have been written by a Native American. (to our lasting shame)

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    Replies
    1. Sandra, India too has a vast number of aboriginal people who are treated as third-grade citizens. They live and die without basic rights, and are deprived of education, electricity, medical care. A large number of them die of malnutrition and hunger.

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