In the words of Khalil Gibran, “Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.” Freedom, dreams, and aspirations are the quintessential forces that drive human beings to live and enjoy their lives to the fullest. However, what happens when access to these is denied to a certain section of society based on caste, class, or gender? Constriction of an individual's right to freedom, to express and to be informed can then perhaps be exemplified as a denial of their right to live. Author Quanisha Saboo deals with the idea of freedom, rights and security in the context of tribal women, through the poems of Nirmala Putul.
Such are the lives of the tribal women that have been recited/highlighted through the poetry, Mere Ekant Ka Prawesh Dwar, by an acclaimed tribal author herself, Nirmala Putul. Kanu Priya who completed her M. Phil. on ‘Nirmala Putul's poetry and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's work’, after being deeply intrigued by Putul's work, translated Putul's poems in English to reach a wider audience. Nirmala Putul’s work showcases her craft of weaving engaging stories within her poetries that focus attention on broader issues often ignored such as the trials and tribulations faced in the daily life of an Adivasi woman who strives for social standing among other things.
The author acts as the voice of the voiceless and through her poem, makes the reader wonder about the difficulties of tribal women to find a place or time of rest. While contemplating the potential dreams and occupations tribal women could have, she considers options like marketing and sales, and participation in women's organizations that perhaps don't require prior education or even a high wage. Her consideration of these options itself suggests how limited the opportunities available to tribal women are, and how their lives, dreams, and aspirations are being constricted by societal boundaries.
Tribal women don’t have possession of power and property. She might not have a home in the sense that fosters materialistic living, however, the home becomes one due to her efforts, sacrifices, and primarily her presence. The tribal woman is a home in herself and also a place of providing empathy, support, and comfort. Just like how the woman acts as a house for an offspring's birth for 9 months, just the materialistic presents cannot suffice what we call home. Therefore, the idea put forth is that the world originates from a woman, detached from the womb to the bed in various forms. Even the intersectionality theory talks about how an intersection is formed when looking at groups that are deprived of a proper social acknowledgement, position in society, as well as a hand in the decision-making process. As per the author of A History of Adivasi women in post-independence Eastern India the survival of Adivasis in the country or even, in general, is very difficult because of the way they live as well as because they account for a comparatively small group of people. Women have been deprived of a lot of things in the past as well as are not allowed to enter a lot of sectors. Gender inequality as well as inequality in terms of modernity both intersect when it comes to talking about tribal women who have to go through the negatives of both of these and experience this intersectionality.
Tribal women keep searching for what they can call their own and the purpose of their presence on this earth. After not being able to find a place of her own, Nirmala talks about how the tribal women could find solitude. Writing poems for Nirmala is a means of relaxation from all the problems life throws at her. In what she calls her home there is a door to seeking solitude, where she can live effortlessly, detaching herself from the worries of the world. Because of the workload women have, Tribal women end up being unable to focus on themselves.
They lose their identity in catering to the needs of the community and working in forests whilst sacrificing their own basic needs. The empathy within the women makes them want less and desire the betterment of other people. They give importance to ensuring they get an adequate amount of food, their children and family live a healthy life and have habitat security for societal sustenance. This keeps them occupied and also affects their mental state. There lies a longing for an open environment where they are secure.
“Nirmala Putul.” The Johar Journal, https://joharjournal.org/nirmala-putul-vol-2/. Accessed 15 November 2022.
De, Debasree. A History of Adivasi Women in Post-Independence Eastern India: The Margins of the Marginals. SAGE Publications, 2018.
About the Author: Quanisha Saboo is an undergraduate student, at Ashoka University intending to major in psychology and minor in sociology. Her areas of interest include social issues, journalism, media studies, and social and organizational psychology.