The village is called Hathighar, the place of elephants, although no elephants can be seen there today. When Moti Babu's ancestors were important landlords they kept elephants in stable built of stone. The old stone mansion with its thirty rooms, where they lived, still exists but the rooms on the ground floor now store rice, wheat and other grain and the elephants' for paddy.
Etoa's grandfather says that this village was once called Salgerya and belonged to the tribals. Rows of sal trees stood like sentinels guarding the village.
"Why was the name changed?"
"The Babus came and took everything away."
"The tribals didn't protest?"
"You talk too much, Etoa. Your father won't have dared to ask so many questions. We lost out because didn't know how to read and write. We didn't understand the laws of the government."
"Just answer one more question, Aba. When did you leave your land to come here?"
"Thousands of moons ago. Why do you laugh?"
"No one counts years by moons any more."
"We've always done so, and I'll continue to, until I die. Our forefathers left their land when Sidhu and Kanhu led the Santals against the British. What a fierce battle it was! When the British won, the Santals dispersed all over the land to escape them. A group of them came here, cleared the forest and settled down. All happened a long time ago."
"It that how we Mundas came here?"
The old villager, mangal, looked at his grandchild. Young boy he doesn't know anything. Does a tribal ever leave his land unless he is forced to? "After some years Birsa Munda was able to organize the Mundas to rebel against the British. That was another fierce battle. Arrows flew from our side; they sot with bullets. Finally we had to accept defeat, too. Like leaves before the wind, we scattered to different places in Orissa, Bihar, Bengal and Assam. We cleared forests to make new settlements. Today Mundas and Santals can be seen everywhere."
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend