I had a great grandmother from Sicily and a grandmother from the Basque country. Someone told me I have Chinanteco blood (a very old indigenous people) from my dad’s side of the family … but it doesn’t count, I was raised by my mom’s loving family. So it must be the Basque genes; and that’s why I’ve always been hooked onto travels and indigenous peoples (Basques ARE one.)
The book part is easier: as a child, I found more fun in their company. I was taken away by them to the North Pole, the Caribbean … the Malaysian sea. Adventures were more interesting than school, classmates. They were more interesting than getting to understand why my dad left, why were we poor … until I found books providing the help to understand and answer my own life, the lives of my classmates (as poor as I was, sad like me sometimes).
Anyway, I’m writing this letter not just to explain to you why I’m here, with Ruby and Joy. Or who I am. This letter aims to explain why we do books, and dream wide awake of re tooling history, culture and even the colonial heritage … but, again, that’s a long way from having a Basque grandma in Mexico–who was a racist and hated indigenous people–to India, the adivasis (literally, the first settlers) and adivaani’s time machine:
Guilt? Rage? Love? Maybe a little of all those things, but I’ll tell you more: I was 13 when I realized almost none of my classmates would make it to college … but they were not stupid. So I could not understand it: they were poor as I was, and some even better students. They were just talented sensible kids with not too many choices in life.
Helped mostly by common sense (and my own set of genes) I understood there were some things in life that had to be set right. Ok, later on I learned those things should be set right by them, I mean, the people … no need for superheroes, just hard working guys.
In Bolivia, ‘adopted’ by the Aymara, I also learned they had millenial traditions worth to be preserved, guarded, shared respectfully. Like their ancient techniques to dehydrate food or their amazing way to reach consensus in their own way of politics. Mixe, Yukpa, Kharia and Santal peoples have their own as well. All of them have been colonized and harassed for centuries. Their chances to survive in these times rely on their cultures, re tooled and re furnished (so what?)
Back to adivaani, we don’t have the money to print books. The adivasis need support as anybody else and more: indigenous peoples produced most of the practical knowledge to live than we have as a humankind.
Putting some money here is easy. Just don’t buy that latte or that salmon bagel today. I mean, none of our books price is over 4 US dollars. And they are good. So, please, if you have to use your credit card, can I offer you an alternative to Barista or Num Pang? Can you not purchase the last Murakami and help adivaani print some creation stories?
I feel sad we only raised 120 dollars in two months (thanks to some great friends.) And I’m almost sure we will not raise 5,000 in less than 20 days … but please put some chips here, you will be placing it on the right bet … we will thank you with all our genes in the near future. Promise!
Luis A. Gómez