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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 40 New Delhi September 24, 2016

Mahasweta Devi

Saturday 24 September 2016, by Sagari Chhabra

To you the universe
Was a constellation of stars
Towards which you took a leap,
Only some of the stars
Were shrouded in a darkness, so deep.
You went close, you felt deeply,
And in your manner so intense,
Arose the speech of ants,
Within a sentence;
The sound of snails speaking,
The torment of a hungry child, weeping.
 
You discarded the middle-class morality of the Bengali bhadralok
For the mud huts of the Sabar tribes of Purulia,
And from them arose the words of Dopdi,
Defying the cop who raped her,
‘Can you look into my eyes
And see the undefiled, unvanquished dignity of my tribe?’
For the tribals you were a tireless scribe
Raising their issues in the Supreme Court
As to why Chotti Munda had slit the darogah’s throat.
He had gone to plant three papaya seedlings
On his own land,
When he saw another man’s hut on what was once his own fields.
 
You extended our depth of field,
Moving our inner compass
Urging the rich, powerful and pompous,
To see, that we were intent on occupying
Every stream, river and forest.
That belonged to the tribes,
And was now being parcelled to the
New India Company.

Sagari Chhabra