Santhals: Tribe with no ego,
Hansda is a dominant surname of a tribe in central and eastern India - known as Santhals. Hansda Sowmendra Shekhar is a Santhal and also a medical doctor and budding author. The Indian tribes have a life of their own. They relate every event of life to nature. Their villages are named after trees, their Gods are unique and multiple and are not aliens - they live with the humans under or above some trees or on some mountains. People visualise their Gods and feel their presence, albeit, hallucinatory. Author Shekhar has narrated the whole human perceptions in his flowing and pleasurable style and the reader is exposed to an entirely new world, hitherto unknown.
The social customs of these primitive(?) people open a new window to behavioural pattern of these people living deep inside the forests. Their non-violent attitude and acceptance of negatives of life including death and diseases is an eye opener to many of the so-called enlightened sages of the world. Yes, they are polygamous and take physical relationships in their stride. They do not ostracise a person simply for any carnal adventure and allow that person to lead a normal life and even respect that person for any contribution to life - personal or societal.
The book reflects a very unique attitude. A good meal, a small shelter, a piece of land to till, some home-brewed liqueur, some songs and a few rituals are enough to live a life beautifully. No ego, no jealously, no planning, no hoarding - a life to be lived on day to day basis. The author has thrown a new way to the civilised (?) world how a full-filled life could be lived even in the remotest of the jungles! Being trained as a medical doctor, Sowmendra Shekhar understands the various ailments, real or psychological and he makes use of this in his narration of this unique way of living life by Santhals of India.
Today, we hear about so many acts of violence by these tribal areas of India. What has happened to these people who love life to the hilt? And what are the possible solutions? The politicians of India should read this book before planning any efforts to solve this huge problem facing this nation of over a billion. Brute force is not going to bring down these people, compassion would!
Rupi Baskey represents the state of women in a tribal society. A strong yet highly vulnerable status is the destiny of woman in the world of men if you follow the customs forced upon you by the society. But the rebellious ones take the cake. This novel deals with the suffering of vulnerable women in an uneducated society.
One more important feature of this book is that the geography of the entire Jharkhand area is explained in a way that you feel yourself as a part of the whole area. You are there even if you never heard of this land of tribal natives. This is the first English novel written by any Jharkhandi and is a milestone in that respect. But the author is a regular contributor to Indian literary circle through his writing in the form of stories and other articles in various publications.
This book has 210 pages in paperback and is brought by Aleph book company, promoted by Rupa Publications India. It is priced at Rs.295 and is also available in eBook form at Amazon Kindle. One expects more from this talented author in near future as the deep forests are so wonderfully full of life!