By Stella Paul
The year 2005, Handitola village in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district:
A Dalit hangs himself. The early stench of a decomposing body is what helps identify the tree. Yet, nobody dares go near him; for some, the man’s an untouchable. The others are just plain scared. A woman in a faded sari with that other rural staple, a very cracked heel arrives on the scene. Sukhantibai with a sickle in her hand, stands upon a stool, cuts the rope and lowers the body. The villagers mostly look on. Few days later, the villagers unanimously select Sukhantibai – a Gond Adivasi woman as their Sarpanch.
7 years hence she has been reelected. Not that anything in her home would give that away today. Her house is still a mud hut with uneven walls, a tiny courtyard; her kitchen consists of a wood stove, a couple of earthen pots and a few small tins containing tea and spices; her family has to fetch drinking water from the tap at the entrance of the village and no personal privilege of separate
Bijoy Venugopal, Editor
Wanderer, leech-bite fetishist and musicosaur