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.