Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Tale of Maji

Maji was a young Bhil girl who had just become a woman. Traditionally among Bhils young girl-women have to be married off quickly. Often in their hurry the parents of the girl marry her off to a boy who has not yet attained puberty. In such circumstances it is said among the Bhils that the young wife takes over the responsibility of bringing up her immature husband from his mother. Consequently it comes to transpire that later on in life while the husband remains young and vigorous his wife who is elder to him becomes old and sexually unattractive from the rigours of repeated child bearing. So when repeating the cycle their first son is also married off at an immature age like his father then the latter begins eyeing the new bride lecherously. In fact it is not an uncommon practice for the new bride to simultaneously bring up her husband and also sleep with her father-in-law.
When Maji was married off to a young boy then one day when she was in the kitchen, cooking a meal, her father-in-law came in and tried to ravish her. Maji, was made of stern stuff, however, having been brought up in a family that had fought valiantly against the state over adivasi rights as part of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath. Her mother was one of the leading woman activists of the organisation. So she kicked her father-in-law in the groin and ran away to her father's home.
Thus began a sordid saga. In the community meeting called to resolve this dispute according to tradition in such circumstances the father-in-law of Maji had to forfeit the bride price he had paid for his son to Maji's father as a penalty for his indiscretion. However, the father-in-law declared that he would not allow Maji to be married again in her life to anybody else.
The members of the Sangathan scoffed at him and soon Maji was married to another boy whose father was a member of the Sangathan. Then her earlier father-in-law on one night went with some of his cohorts and made a murderous attack on her new father-in-law and wounded him with a sharp edged weapon. This led to the wounded man after recovering from this, sending Maji, who was seven months pregnant by that time, back home to her father. Eventually she gave birth to a still born baby.
Finally after a lapse of a few years one of the members of the youth brigade of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath picked up the courage to marry Maji. Immediately her father-in-law came in force to kill this young man at night. But since the youth brigade had foreseen such a possibility they gathered together immediately and repulsed the attack. Nevertheless it was decided that given the murderous tendency of the man in question it would be better for Maji and her husband to migrate to Gujarat and stay there for a while.
They had to stay there for quite a few years till finally the first father-in-law relented when he was on the verge of being sentenced by the trial court in the cases that had been lodged against him for his murderous attacks.
Maji was brave enough to protest and she was supported strongly by the Sangathan but many young Bhil women suffer such oppression in silence even today.


lamp post said...

U referred a poem called 'woman' by Vaharu

Rahul Banerjee said...

yes Vaharu's poem in an earlier post does indeed graphically portray the oppression of Bhil women. however, the description here is not just imagination but a very gruesome reality.