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…
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)