Who is adivaani

Ruby Hembrom

I believe not everyone is meant to do just one thing in life, I certainly am not. My 8 years of work experience in the Legal field, the Service Industry, the Social Development Sector and the Learning, Research, Development and Instructional Designing field bears testimony to this fact.

My education, training, skills and career define only part of who I am; my identity as a tribal, a Santal, is fundamental to my being and that completes who I am.

But is that enough? Life for me is about fulfilling one’s potential. In the many ways I’ve redefined who I am; the adivaani dream has made me come alive all over again. So what is the adivaani story?

2nd of April, 2012 found me trading four months of my life to learning a new skill. I attended a course on publishing to explore the possibilities of what I could do with my love for Language, the written word and stories. The course would just be an extension of what I was already doing.

In the first month there I met many fascinating storytellers in batch mates, school officials and resource persons from the publishing world and heard lots of stories firsthand. And two stories I heard planted an idea in my head that finally made me see why I was at the school.

Listening to Urvashi Butalia and S. Anand’s stories of what their publishing houses embodied got me thinking. While their story unfolded bit by bit I was bothered by a thought: both of them were sharing specific issue related stories through books that were important to be told, but there were some stories that still needed to be told–the Adivasi stories–and nobody was telling them. I was consumed by the burning desire for ‘our’ stories to be out there. Who would tell them? Soon enough I saw I wanted to tell them. But I didn’t know how. I didn’t write and I had no plan, but all I knew was that the tribal voice had to be heard; the authentic Adivasi story had to be told.

Two days of living with that idea, and going over the possibilities of what could happen all alone drove me crazy; I couldn’t contain the excitement any longer. 5th April, 2012, Good Friday, while getting dressed for Church, I make a phone call to Joy, my sounding board; and started the conversation in a way he was all too familiar with, “I have an idea”. That was it. No ‘not again’ reactions from him.

The more I thought about it and Joy and I talked about it, it became clear how we had been living halve-lives until then.

Next to come is the christening story. We need a name I thought; I don’t want to keep calling it an idea anymore.

In a mock exercise at the school we were to draw up publishing house ideas and I absolutely loved the name ‘Inkdia’ and the logo that one team came up with. So I walk up to the leader of the team, Shyamal, and ask him if the name is copy right, ‘yes’, he says. Shyamal directs me to Luis, who coined ‘Inkdia’ and designed the logo, with whom until then I had not had a real conversation. I shared my idea with him and won over a collaborator. He said he’d help with the logo, and that was just the start of his additions to my big idea.

But I still didn’t have a name.

A little dejected I sit through the session, toying with ideas for names. I try playing around with letters around the word tribal and Adivasi and Voilá! the name as if by magic appears: adivaani, the Adivasi voice.

That’s how an idea became adivaani and adivaani became the fuel that keeps the dreamer and storyteller in me alive.


Luis A. Gómez

I write, I design and sometimes I publish books. I’ve been a journalist for the last 25 years, and during my career I’ve had the privilege to work for/by/within the peoples in Latin America; particularly in Mexico–my motherland–and Bolivia, where I lived for 13 years. There, adopted by the Aymara people, I wrote a book about their community traditions and how they deployed them in warfare to win an insurrection in October 2003: It’s been the joy of my life to love hope, emancipation, and some other tender words, like solidarity and reciprocity.

Some day in March, 2012, I landed in Kolkata. Here, when Ruby asked me to help her in developing this idea she had and had shared with her friend Joy, my heart throbbed again. And I jumped into it: how electrifying was the prospect of using my hands and voice to create an independent press 100 percent Santali (yes, I would be grateful if along the way you call me one of you as well.) You know, I write and make books, mostly, because I love to chase dreams…

Come join us…

Boski Jain

A graphic designer by education—but that’s just one way of pegging her creative talent which is extraordinary and limitless; never ceasing to amaze. Her contribution to adivaani goes beyond the beautiful logo, the very artistic illustrated Santal Creation Stories series and every special project she undertakes for us. She’s adivaani’s pillar of innovation and ingenuity.

(A note by Ruby Hembrom from March, 2014)


9 thoughts on “Who is adivaani

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  1. My hearty congrats to Ruby Hembrom and Joy Tudu for taking this unique initiative. The name “Adivaani” also sounds just right. However, I have a few questions:
    1. Are you interested in publishing only in the Santali language (Latin script) or would you also accept writings in other languages by Santal writers?
    2, Which particular genres would you be most interested in – poetry, essay, novel, short story, drama etc?
    3. Finally, since publishing a book usually involves some financial expense by the author, could you please provide more information on this aspect?
    I look forward to some exciting publications from Adivaani in the near future.
    Best wishes,
    Ivy Hansdak

  2. Great Work Ruby and Joy, and special thanks Luis for your supporting hands, you are one among us. I feel this could be great platform, in re-writing, re-remembering, re-telling our Stories of Bravery, Patriotism, exploitation and many more.

    But let us make this accessible to our common Santal friends, who in majority still are far away from modern technologies, we need to move ahead from here on to our remote villages.

  3. Hi Ruby Hembrom, Joy Raj Eric Tudu & Luis A. Gómez,

    Great initiative, and my best wishes to Adivaani team.

    I do not really know, how to introduce myself. So let me share excerpts from my about me page “I wrote my maiden fiction novel to tell the stories of people who even after six-decades since India’s Independence in 1947, still live away from our national conscious, who remain invisible, voice-less, often un-heard and almost forgotten in the corridor of power of our modern democratic India. So they continue to live in the dreaded red-corridor, caught in the cross-fire, between the Government Forces and the Left-Extremist Forces, who are termed Maoists and described by our Prime-Minister as nation’s greatest internal security threat. So what’s the story of large chunk of people caught in the whirlpool of tragic circumstances?” To know more check @ http://about.me/sameerbhagat

    Me and my team manage few online properties, namely, (1) Tribal Stuff, An Online Store and (2) FOCUS magazine, An Online magazine.

    We work with tribal artists and artisans; in the coming days we would be adding writers, singers, filmakers, et al to our venture.

    Do let me whether we can collaborate.

    warm reagrds,

    Sameer Bhagat

    1. Dear Sameer,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. We are humbled by your kind words. Infact what you’ve been doing is commendable and we applaud your efforts.

      A collaboration sounds like a fine plan. Do let us know how we could initiate talks.
      Our email id’s and phone numbers are on the website. And Joy Tudu is in Ranchi at the moment. His number is 9771490232. Do get in touch with him to see if you could meet.

      Some important things come out of collaborations, lets see where this takes us.

      Best Wishes,

  4. hearty congrats to Ruby, Joy and others for materialising thisnovel venture adivaani. i myself am a Dalit. and a retired professor of English. Have been learning , teaching and researching on indigenous peoples, cultures and rituals particularly literature including orality. had opportunity to live with the indigenous peoples of Australia and Canada also. Written and published a few articles in English on indigenous writings.especially on adivsi writers in malayalam . I have
    Recently completed research on Theyyam( and indigenous ritual of kerala) published it in a book foarm and also edited the OUP anthology of Malayalam dalit writing in translation for Oxford University press.
    Would you like people like me to be associated with your work. How can i help in getting the books published by you sold.

    are u lookng forward to translate aadivasi oralitay, stories and traditions in Kerala. i can help if yu want.
    How would u mobilise the funding for theses activities

    look forward to ur response..

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