To my loving daughter Khushi,
You are only 4.5 years young and I am writing to you; for you to understand what your Papa does, about why there are cartons of books around the house and why my phone conversations and other interactions with people revolve around adivaani. Papa is building a ‘time machine’; the adivaani time machine for Adivasis; for us and for our people to travel to the past and carry the adivasi legacy we left behind to the present and the future. Beta let me explain: I started this new place of ‘work’ called adivaani in July 2012 partnering with Ruby and Luis (Remember Luis brought you a handmade arawak toy from Mexico and you have added it to your friend’s circle since then).
We are making books; and through them we want to reclaim our identity in our own terms. Super excited we produced our first ever book in Santali in the month of October 2012. With no proper sales guidelines and strategy we set out. We missed out few occasions where we could have sold our books but such are the challenges of a new venture.
By this time I had already shifted to Pakur, our home: you will not realize this as you see me far too often than when I was in Ranchi. Your mom used to scare me saying that one day you’d fail to recognize me because of my being away from home most of the times. Thank you for proving her wrong.
The start of 2013 was exciting for adivaani as we were busy producing two books together. One is Gladson’s (Remember we went for his wedding and you had a good time playing around). The other you love to look at and make me tell you the story of the geese again and again. Come February the 7th 2013 and we had a terrific launch of the two books at the New Delhi World Book Fair.
Way back in September 2009, when you were only 11 months young, I was in Edinburgh, Scotland on an official visit. Rev. Andrew Anderson, the then presiding Priest of the Greenside Church had invited me to speak on a Sunday morning service about the situation of our people in India. In his introductory remarks, he introduced me as the first person he has known in his lifetime that has his daughter named after him. Khushi (Joy in Hindi); your mom loves me for this, what about you?
‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’…I’ve just re-tweeted this a few days ago copied from an online friend, who by the way also happens to like our posts on adivaani’s website. That’s why the time machine is important.Beta, I am building a time machine and I feel I’m running out of time and resources. Our passion alone cannot drive this time machine, we need fuel, and we need the support of everyone. I am worried and often wonder how we will make it. Then I look at you and when you play and make me laugh, I feel alive again. You inspire me. It’s for you and adivasi children like you that the adivaani time machine wants to preserve this cultural legacy. I do believe and hope that this ‘work’ of ours will fulfill the potential it has.
Your grandpa has donated a part of our house in Pakur to be used as the adivaani bookstore. I am so overwhelmed with his gesture and support. He extended his support without us even asking, and that humbles me. But we need to reach out to everyone and tell everyone who we are what we want to do and how we need their backing.
So we started an online fundraising campaign called ‘A time machine for Adivasis: documenting and tooling our history’on indiegogo in March 2013 to have them support our venture:
We’ve been blessed with the response we got; a few people donated money, some want to write about us and some want to keep our books in their library. That’s wonderful! We sincerely hope our campaign succeeds.
March 2013 also had adivaani written about for the first time in Tehelka.
I feel extremely honored to be in the company of such wonderful people who believe in adivaani and us. adivaani and the promise of what it can do is the inheritance I proudly leave for you and adivasi children everywhere.
This is the first ever letter written to you; the first letter of your life. From now on, you have a confirmed seat in our ‘time machine’, just beside me.
With everlasting love and best wishes,