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 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 course.

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. Even the list of publishing experts we were to meet; had no Adivasi representation and that got me more concerned. Were we not important enough to be included or were we non-existent in the publishing world (this was not true as we do publish in our native regional languages).

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.

That idea and the possibilities of what could happen through it filled my waking and sleeping hours. The more I thought and talked about it, it became clear how I had been living a half-life 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. Soon we has Boski on board to work with the logo and our first few illustrated books. I was fortunate to have found my best collaborators in the course.

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.

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About adivaani

Adivasi publishing and archiving outfit for indigenous expression based in Kolkata.

4 thoughts on “Ruby Hembrom

  1. Stan Swamy says:

    Thank you, Ruby, for the endearing story of your search and how you finally found the answer. It has been a self-discovery leading to the discovery of the Santal People. The Logo is very befitting to your search and discovery. Ever in solidarity, Stan Swamy

  2. Stan Swamy says:

    Dear Ruby, Kudos to you and your Adivaani team on your efforts to make the voice of the Adi people heard. Thank you for the endearing account of how you discovered yourself and discovered your new challenge. I and my colleagues stand in solidarity. I glanced thru the 2016 Catalogue and am impressed with the collection of books on and by Adivasi intellectuals. I’ve read practically all of them. However, Ruby, how about persons like me who may not be writing books but keep a vigilant eye on what is happening to Adivasi people and keep writing on the issues they face and the struggles they undertake. I’ve been sending some of them to you and will keep sending in future too. Not that I want my name to be formally included in your list of authors but I would very much wish the issues and struggles of our people to find a place in Adivaani publications. Am I reasonable in making this suggestion? Regards, Stan

  3. Ivan Adrian peter osta says:

    Dear. Ruby,
    I am half a santhal,and not being knowledgable about the language this is the best introduction i could think of.My mom was a Santhalfrom Dumka/Pakud area.My dad was a catholic from Bettiah,north Bihar.At present i stay in udupi ,a town in coastal karnataka.
    My mom was a wonderful person,a person who gave us so much,especially a love of books.She was the headmistress of our school at Samastipur,Bihar
    .She was a woderful singer,and one of the best teacher i came across.I remember dimly the santhal stories of misty jungles,the huge pythons,snake eggs mistakenly broght from the jungles and put under the fowls…
    The Christmas songs …sangin disam peda bohya…
    I dont know santhali,but of late i have tried collecting novels writtrn on santhals.Dr sowendraShekhar’s Hansdaks books were the first i came across.There was a book by a protestant pastor on the exegesis of santhal cretion myths probably published by adivaani.
    I have jus t ordered three of your books on amazon
    It was wonderful to listen to you atthe jaipur lit fest.God bless you for the wonderful work on reviving the santhal culture.My mother wouldve loved you.The only santhali she was able to read was a monthly magazine Marsal Tabon,from pakur.Do let me know of books being written on santals,in english of course.Johar!

    • adivaani says:

      Dear Ivan,

      Thank you for your heartwarming comment about your mother and sharing her remarkable story. I have written an email to you about the rest of your queries.
      Warm regards,

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