The Adivasi Will Not Dance by HAnsda Sowvendra Shekhar

The Adivasi Will Not Dance

“But I did not share my plan with anyone. I went ahead alone, like a fool. They grabbed me, beat me to the ground, put their hands on my mouth and gagged me. I felt so helpless and so foolish.

I only said, ‘We Adivasis will not dance anymore’ – what is wrong with that? WE are like toys – someone presses our ‘ON’ button, or turns a key in our backsides, and we Santhals start beating rhythms on our tamak and tamdak, or start blowing tunes on our tiriyo while someone snatches away our very dancing grounds. Tell me, am I wrong?”

Why I picked this Book?

The book was being acclaimed as a brilliant collection of short stories of the tribal people of Jharkhand. Also the book was in news as it was banned in Jharkhand due to some political reasons. This intrigued me read the book and know what exactly is the thing that offended the government and the people of Jharkhand.

The Book

The Adivasi Will Not Dance  is a collection of ten short stories from the towns of Jharkhand. Each story tells you about the lives of tribal people and the challenges they face across villages and towns of Jharkhand. Each story captures a different facet of the tribal culture and the oppression and exclusion they face on a day to day basis.

The stories are hard hitting and disturbing sometimes. You will know what people are forced to do for survival and it will make you sick and enraged at the same time. At the end of every misery or should I say at the beginning of every misery lays poverty and this is what the author brings forth. 

A story about a couple moved to a different state only to find out that they can’t eat meat or else they won’t be accepted as citizens.  Story of an old lady who is labelled as witch when people in the village begin to die mysteriously, story of a girl migrating to West Bengal in search of work  has to sleep with a policeman for fifty rupees and two bread pakoras. You will go through a range of emotions as you read each story and realise poverty is one common factor in all the oppression and subjugation that happens across the state.

All the stories will make you feel for the character. The last story stayed with me long after I finished the book and every time I come across the title of the book, I am reminded of Mangal Murmu. He is the one who said,”We Adivasis will not Dance”.

Writing Style and Ease of Readability

Writing is crisp and gives you a glimpse of insider’s perspective into the lives of Santhals. Each story brings out a new facet of the lives of common tribal people and keeps the reader hooked to the story. Easy read which will make you pause and think.

About the Author

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar is a medical officer with the government of Jharkhand. He is also author of the critically acclaimed novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey which was shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2014 and the Crossword Book Award 2014. Sowvendra received the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in June 2015.

Our Verdict

An excellent read to understand the lives of the tribal people of Jharkhand.

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