Friday, March 25, 2005

The tribal soul

Speaking of land and Chhatisgarh, I was told (off the record, strictly) by some government officials that much of the tribal land in this region was acquired for as little as Rs 5.

Or even a yard of plain cotton cloth. A lungi, here. Half a bottle of country liquor, there.

Liquor always works. Especially in election time. One bottle buys you the votes of a whole family.

Which I have always found wierd, since elections are a secret ballot affair. We have the option of accepting bribes from every party and voting for none.

The tribals, however, have an unfortunately exalted sense of honour; they actually stick to their end of the bargain.

The local acitivists were having a hard time cracking this nut, so they had to work out a new code of honour for the tribals. It is something like this - "Each bottle you get during election time is not really an advance payment for the vote you are about to cast. It is the local politicians' compensation/fine for having neglected you for the last five years."

That way, the tribal soul is not burdened with guilt, as he casts his vote for a new candidate, somebody promising and independent.

The more I meet, and hear about, tribals in the forests, though, the more I want to live like them.

Imagine being upright as if there was no option but to be upright. Imagine being laidback (what we crazy urban people call 'unambitious' and even 'lazy') to the extent that you're happy with a yard of cotton, a bottle and a wage of five rupees a day, collecting tendu and mahua. Imagine drinking from the rivers and lolling about in hilly meadows, with your cattle and your sheepdogs and wild horses...

In my next life, I want to be a tribal. The warring kind, though. The kind that shoots arrows at people who want to enter my territory.


livinghigh said...

;-) know wat u mean - there's something exalted abt wanting to live like that - free. Next life be damned! ;-)

PS: the piece on Self Restraint in Punjab was highly interesting.

Morquendi said...

In my next life I want to be a gun toting commie rebel :) or a cat.

annie said...

morq, too late to be a cat. and tribals don't let you in so easily, but gun-toting commie rebels will probably welcome you into the ranks. not too late to try...

jaygee said...

Why wait till next life? This life be free as a bird.. damn money and other material needs...

may be be free with an unlimited supply of wishes from that genie who, after having abandoned aladdin, now lives in the mediterranean..

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