From the corner of the road, the paddy fields gleamed in the sun. It had rained a few days ago. Amidst distant hills, wreaths of smoke curled in the air. Some days, a dull roar of engines ricocheted in the distance. The silence returned a while later, almost always. One late summer afternoon, as we […]Read more "In the shadow of the gun, you can’t have peace: Bela Bhatia"
A sense of normalcy prevailed. Unsettling and strange, it belonged here in the midst of a chaotic past and an obscure present. Normalcy: here in the constant is where one often sought its presence. “This is our normal,” remarked Suresh once when we spoke of solitary days and rains underneath an old mahua tree. Like […]Read more "Salwa Judum went very well. It was the birth of a revolution: Chaitram Atami"
His suggestions were unfounded. There was nothing he could do to convince us. “Why would IG Kalluri inquire about us?” we asked him to his annoyance. He didn’t answer. He refused to look up, and scribbled away furiously in an old register at the counter. He overcharged his customers, and sometimes quarrelled with them over […]Read more "Of Conflict, displacement and loss: Tales from an old Salwa Judum Camp"
These farmlands remained unseen. That was a different time, said the elders. Trees were taller, and the flowers bloomed in spring. Summers didn’t last forever. We tread carefully alongside these roads. Where the village ended, dead trees stood upright in corners. Before us, were lands that held nothing anymore; a vast emptiness that shrouded these […]Read more "Entering the Red Corridor…"
Men lost their arms. Men lost their legs. There were those who couldn’t afford to continue fighting for their rights; those who never returned home. More than 100 farmers were killed during protests he partook in over the last four decades. He saw them starve, bury their children. He saw them return home defeated and […]Read more "‘Never thought about anything other than helping someone in need. A human being is far more important than money…’"
At the crossroads, where Masrudi ended and began roads that led to a settlement of nomads, dust billowed in the streets. Lone clusters of trees rattled in the winds. Few people were in the streets. Fewer in the woods. Along the edges of dead farms were shrubs that sprung into action with gusts of wind […]Read more "‘Water. That’s what we will fight over next…’"
In distant lands, where wreaths of dust and smoke rose in whorls, near vast oceans where trees bent towards shade, where grey structures hovered in the horizon, people strolled in passageways that led them to a space they called home. These streets held sorrow. A woman’s sobs caught everyone’s attention. Another death, another life lost. […]Read more "‘Farmers have had no place in society. The bottom is no place to be…’"
In twilight skies, soared a large flock of birds. Some days, they swore they saw a murmuration of starlings. Most days, they imagined it. One summer afternoon, under the banyan tree, children gathered peanut shells strewn everywhere. Stirring patterns into the ground, they dug up more trash tossing them towards the tree, one by one. […]Read more "‘My husband abandoned us twenty years ago. Drought took away everything I had…’"
He looked at us standing beside them. His eyes lingered on our bare feet. Children scurried along pathways that led to the back alley lest their mothers caught them playing with their friends. It was time for supper. The elders blinked rapidly and held sombre faces. They knew him. “Someone informed me that you have […]Read more "‘I’ll tell you everything about NREGA. Everyone knew what was happening in Masrudi…’"
“My son dropped out of school after ninth grade. The goats are his responsibility now. He keeps telling us he wishes to finish high school some day. But, we are helpless. At least, our girls will study. Maybe, they’ll even go to college. I don’t know. We can’t have too many dreams. I worry […]Read more "‘Even amongst the poor, there lie the poorest who get nothing…’"