STRAIGHT FROM THE HEARTLAND OF DANTEWADA (31st Dec 2009, 1520 Hrs) – Continues…
By Priyanka Borpujari
On Wed, 30 Dec 2009 12:47:58 +0530 wrote:
We bade the family of that brave man our goodbyes and told them that appeals to the government was pouring in from across the world for Kopa’s release. They would be meeting Kopa in jail in a few days, and while we want to meet Kopa too, we know it would be best not to tag along. There is someone else who needs to get back the smile on Kopa’s face – Himanshuji, a man who is not taking any food since the last four days to convey a message that enough blood had been shed and families bludgeoned in this Fascist state.
Fascism escalated to new heights in the current location of VCA too. The seven police personnel, who had been assigned with the duty to protect Himanshuji, wore new garbs of being eavesdroppers. Until the time when the security cover was lifted for a brief 30 minutes and restored again, on December 28th, the men were sitting together near some tents put up by VCA, about 30 feet away from the tree where Himanshuji is seated. But now, they are right behind him, facing the land surrounding Himanshuji’s house. Of course, with all of us quite vociferous, it was obvious that our words were music to their ears, as they sat the entire day in their plastic chairs with guns in their hands. Himanshuji fears that the direction of the wind will soon change for the worse. I shudder at the thought of yet another cyclone in this arid state, where the air is already permeated with the stale odour of blood.
Later in the evening, we took Gompa village resident Sodi Sambo to the Dantewada Civil hospital. One suggestion to the city folks who do not have a fat medical insurance to be able to undergo any treatment in large hospitals like the Apollo or Jaslok – go to any civil hospital in a sleepy town like Dantewada. The floor is spic and span, the walls are not decorated with red spittoon, there is no nauseating odour of Chitranela phenyl in the corridors, and the ward boys are not languidly chewing paan and ogling at each patient’s relative walking in. The hospital gave me yet another reason why I should not enter the whirlpool of insurance policies. As I learnt in Dantewada, through its beauty and horror stories, a 20th century invention like insurance is not a need.
Sodi was shot on her right leg on October 1st (one day before the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary) this year by some Salwa Judum SPOs. THE REAL IRONY!!! She has since been living in VCA, under the love and care of other tribal women who keep VCA inmates happy with their culinary skills. Sodi had to be taken to the hospital to get her wound cleaned and bandage changed. A young man, with no doctor’s robe or green mask, attended to her slim leg. He removed the earlier bandage and cleaned the wound with sterilizer with great confidence, but without any gloves on his hands. When I asked him if he would be wearing a pair, he replied nothing and continued to work at the same pace. Eventually, when the bandage dipped in Betadine solution and fastened around the steel rods fitted into Sodi’s leg had to be replaced, he wore gloves and finished the job carefully. All this while, as the dressing procedure was on, Sodi did not utter a word. Since I had not yet picked up any significant words in Koya Mata language, I asked one of the VCA volunteers with us to ask Sodi if the procedure was hurting her. Sodi nodded her head to affirm pain. But she did not twitch even once. Does time really heal wounds or merely plays with them?
We brought Sodi back and the sun was almost down the horizon. Before retiring early for the day, Himanshuji was joined by professors Nandini Sundar and Ujjwal Singh of Delhi University. Sundar has been working on issues in Chhattisgarh for close to two decades but her fresh youthful look defies the cornucopia of knowledge and experience that she carries along non-chalantly. She told us that they had arrived from Jagdalpur and had lodged themselves in Madhuban Hotel, very close to VCA. “But we were told by the hotel manager that the next day was the death anniversary of some relative of the hotel owner and the rooms required cleaning. They asked us to check out the same night. Of course, such warm housekeeping was meant only for us,” Sundar said with a wry smile.
However, by around 10 pm, Sundar got a call from the hotel, stating that she could spend the night there. Weird is the business sense in Chhattisgarh. Weird is each day here. “Events”, as journalists would like to call them, can make you cry and laugh at the same time here. You will cry because it tugs your heart and will leave you sleepless; you will laugh because even Charlie Chaplin didn’t fathom such inanity and insanity of The Great Dictator, such as is in Bastar.
Himanshu Kumar enters fifth day of fast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22fCjOswDfM