‘Motherless child’

Find me another word that can unleash an entire gamut of emotions such as compassion, empathy, love, affection or even passion from one’s heart, especially in women. What if they also happen to be Adivasis? On top of it, they are Maoists?

What difference does it make even if it was not a human child, but only a tiny squirrel?

***                                          ***                                          ***

Gilloo, as I named it later in my mind, entered our lives as innocently as any baby enters this world. And it brought as much joy.

On that morning, with a saline drip inserted into my veins, I was in a state between sleep and wakefulness when I heard a commotion. While trying to open my eyes, I asked my guerilla doctor companion,

“What is it?”

“Looks like our comrades saw some animal,” said Soni with the instinct of a seasoned Adivasi guerilla.

Taking my cue, she ensured that there is still time for the drip to be over and went outside to check. She returned with a smile dancing on her lips.

“It’s a baby Verche*. Looks like its mother abandoned it in a hurry. It fell from a tree, Suduru caught it…”

Even in that weak condition, my lips parted in a smile, as would anybody’s who had ever seen a Verche. I was familiar with this wild squirrel as it resided in the different Divisions* of our Dandakaranya region (DK), that I visited as a political teacher at different times.

Verche, as it is called in Koya is a wild squirrel with reddish brown hairs on its back, a very long bushy black tail that ends in a ball of white hairs, a creamy colored bosom, tiny round ears, and very black eyes with large pupils that fill the whole eye to give it a look of innocence. Everything is arranged so symmetrically and so harmoniously, even the bordering lines between the creamy bosom and its reddish brown hair that the symphony is itself a treat to watch. Add to it, its acrobatics, and the attraction is fatal. It may weigh about ten kilograms when it is fully grown up. It resides on the trees and is mostly seen running around branches. It is herbivorous.

My comrades informed me that the journey that we would be making that day would be long and so I had better start earlier than others with a small team as it may be difficult for me to walk in step with others with my high fever. I gratefully agreed and our team was ready to leave within few hours. I had forgotten about the baby Verche by then. When I stood in formation to start the walk, my eyes suddenly fell on the baby perched comfortably on Pali’s shoulders standing two guerillas ahead of me.

It was love at first sight. It could never have been otherwise.

It was so tiny, so cute, so ‘motherless’…hearts are bound to melt. And what else is a heart for, anyway?

Thus began my/our memorable journey with Gilloo.

What should have been an otherwise arduous journey turned delightful with Gilloo as my fellow traveler.

Whenever we stopped for rest mid-way, it was the centre of attraction for all those guerillas giggling like children around it, who were incidentally theconstituents of ‘the biggest internal security threat’ to the Indian State.

Everybody wanted to touch the velvet like baby squirrel, let it cuddle up in their hands or hold it close to their bosom. They were stroking it, hugging it, some even planting something like a kiss on it, putting it up on a tree and again bringing it down.

Except another child, nothing else could have produced the beautiful smiles that lit up the faces of the guerillas when they looked at the baby Verche. I did not know what I was looking at with more delight, the baby or those faces lit by such beautiful smiles.

We reached our destination dog-tired. We quickly identified our sleeping places and rested. The sleepy squirrel was put to siesta tenderly in a handbag with the smoothest set of old clothes arranged like a fluffy feathery bed. It was already fed on the way.

Looking at the sleeping Verche I was reminded of what I wrote in my diary long back.

“The most joyous sight in the world – Girls going to school

The most beautiful sight in the world – A sleeping baby

Gilloo slept on its back, lifting all its four limbs into the air, with its tail curled up a bit. It was as if the baby was persuading you to lift it up. All the guerilla girls lost their hearts to it at the very sight of this pose.

***                                          ***                                          ***

I was with about 40 to 50 guerillas belonging to a Division in DK. They planned for some political classes as part of the Bolshevisation campaign taken up by the Party* in the Central Region to which DK also belongs and I was to conduct some of the classes. The classes were to be held in two batches, one for the ACM*s and one for PM*s and PLGA members. Later we had some meetings. So we would be camping for some days, though we would be changing the venue every now and then. With the Modi led NDA coming to power at the centre, the Operation Green Hunt – OGH – third phase has begun and we could feel the pressure in many ways. Being mobile was crucial to our safety. We decided to keep the Verche with us for some days as we would be camping.

***                                          ***                                          ***

Rearing animals is not something common in our guerilla life. But it is not something unknown too. We PLGA guerillas had our tryst with some of our fellow creatures on this earth at various periods and all of them were nothing but joyous occasions, though parting with them was always a bit sad. All of them were for short stints. PLGA guerillas of various guerilla zones had reared peacocks, hens, parrots, monkey kids, Mynahs, Verches, tortoises, dogs, ‘mountain sheep kids’, rabbits, ‘tree dogs’ etc at various periods. We had donkeys and horses too in some places for some periods and used them as beasts of burden. Sometimes the patients rode them, though it was very rare. We always named the donkeys and horses.

I still smile to myself when I remember how one young guerilla tried to name one of the donkeys as George Bush in a mood for a joke and how everybody almost pounced on him arguing how our ‘good’, ‘hardworking’, ‘selfless’ donkey can never be compared with that World No.1 rogue.

I was lucky to be present when a baby horse was born and had the privilege of naming it. To tell the truth, I was finding it difficult to call that just-born cute little thing with names like ‘Budhram’ or ‘Mangal’ that the comrades were trying to name it with. So I just imposed the name ‘Khushi’ (as it brought so much ‘Joy’ to us) on the baby horse by intervening hurriedly. The name stuck, to my immense relief.

Several guerilla stories make their rounds in the various guerilla zones about these various animals that we reared at different times. My own oft-repeated story was that of a dog that just did not leave our squad and followed us even by jumping into the river. The commander who stone-heartedly tried to shoo it away till then could withstand no longer and helped it into the boat we were crossing the river in.

The dog stayed with us in those severe repressive years. We were amazed how it never barked and gave us away. We had to stay quiet all through the day as ours was a plain area squad and it too stayed as quiet as the guerillas. It just wanted to be with us. We were facing encounters with the police while going to get water or food for the squad but always the dog was fed first with whatever food we got. It was very difficult for us to persuade it to go away and even the guerillas found it hard to part with it. It was such a disciplined, lovable dog. And finally we left it at a village by ‘deceiving’ it. None of us could forget its heart-rending whining that followed us in the dark of that mid-night after it realised we abandoned it.

The State separated us.

 In some places like Gadchiroli, comrades had even sent the baby animals they came across without mothers through villagers to some organisations that reared such animals.

But of all the animals that we reared, that were mentioned above and that I had the opportunity to observe, it was the Verche which stole the show. Of course, we all know that no creature is superior to any other and all kids are cute. But it was the endearing antics and a very innocent looking face and eyes that gave the Verche that edge, what the newspapers would have dubbed as the status of a ‘Rock Star.’ Its fan following ranged from high-ranking leaders to the newest recruits with everybody in between included. It was the same when we reared a Tilloo some years back and now this Gilloo. It remained the darling, the apple of the eye of the revolutionaries for the brief period it showered its grace on us.

***                                          ***                                          ***

Gilloo must have been only a few days old when it ‘fell from the heavens into our laps’. So it could not gather its own food without its mother. Every edible fruit, nut, flower and leaf found its way to Gilloo now, carried to it like offerings by devout followers. It caught the food with its front paws and nibbled at it so fast, so like Chaplin that it made anybody laugh. So it became the most entertaining thing for the guerillas to bring something for it to eat and watch it nibble.

But I must give the credit to Gilloo that it never over ate like humans. It always ate just the amount it needed and ran away to play. I was happy it did not lose this animal instinct. Otherwise the doting guerillas would have turned it ‘obese’ in no time. I was reminded of what Azad dada* told me once about the writer’s description of Kolkata slum women bathing the babies in the book ‘City of Joy’ and his fascination for the scene. We also felt something like it watching it nibble.

The way it wiped its face with its front paws, it cleaned itself with the tongue, it bit the barks and its tail, it followed us hopping on the ground like a baby following its mother, it ran up/ran down the trees and across the branches, it balanced itself on its feet and hung upside down, the crouching walk on the narrow branches or the clothes line, the jumping, the running around…Oh! Everything was a wonder, a treat to watch.

The younger guerillas nudged each other at each of its antics exclaiming, “Hey, just look at the Verche….”

I found myself saying to Ajita, “What do you think, was it the motherless child that needed us or we childless mothers that needed a baby among us?”

Ajita smiled, without taking her eyes off the Verche springing up a tree.

***                                          ***                                          ***

Ajita belonged to the Technical Department (TD) of the party, a department that looks after the manufacture of weapons, explosives and also repair of weapons. She was a senior comrade. She had been working in the cities in the TD but she shifted recently to DK after several important leaders and cadres of TD were arrested in Kolkata and Mumbai. Luckily she was saved from those arrests as she was doing some weapons project in another guerilla zone. She had come to this camp to conduct a repairing camp of weapons, on the sidelines of the other works.

***                                          ***                                          ***

All of us became very busy with the classes, repair camp and other works going on at full swing. However, this has been one of the worst years in terms of illnesses and this was affecting our works to some extent. But none of the guerillas rested if they had even an iota of energy left to work. If not for this communist spirit, our camp would have been a disaster.

The symptoms of some of the illnesses were very inexplicable for us. Ajita was sure this also has something to do with the climate changes occurring due to the extremely harmful ecological policies of the powers that be. Chaitu, one of the senior most comrades in DK and a veteran guerilla doctor was also suggesting that the symptoms of malaria have drastically changed over the years and he is a bit puzzled as to what the reasons were.

The Kashmir floods were wreaking havoc and I used to see Ajita shaking her head furiously whenever she listened to news about the floods on the radio. Ajita tried to convince Chaitu by giving ample details which she had on her finger tips to stress her point – the flooding of Mumbai in the past, the Uttarakhand flash floods last year and Kashmir’s now, the unexpected heavy rains last year in Bastar and our strange illnesses this year were all stemming from the same reason – ecological destruction and had the same enemies – ‘the imperialists and their lackey Indian ruling classes’. 

There were several patients, though not at one time, in the camp and Soni, Chaitu and other guerilla doctors were doing overtime. One of the fallouts of OGH was our not being able to supply some extra nutritious food for the patients. But we tried to do our best and gave them first preference in supplying them whatever extra good food we got.

One day when I was on one of my usual visits to Rita, an ACM suffering from malaria since several days, I found her feeding the Verche.

“Oh, Rita, you should not feed the Verche whatever you are getting as patient special food, you should eat it and get well soon, our people are feeding it more jungle nuts and fruits than it can eat,” I tried to admonish her.

“Look Meena did*i, how impatient it is with the kismish, it is trying to eat by holding some in the front paws even while reaching out for more with one paw and dropping many more in the process,” Rita burst out laughing as if she hasn’t even heard what I said.

It was after so many days that I was hearing the merriness ringing in her voice again. I also could not but laugh at the ‘impatient’ Verche dropping the kismish faster than it ate.

“So now the Verche is doubling up as the doctor and counselor for the patients,” Ajita chipped in picking up the dropped kishmish and holding them to the Verche. But it had its fill and within a blink of the eye it was running around the branches.

“So the best thing would be let the Verche stay near the patients and let it help us in fighting the OGH in its own way,” I said putting my hands fondly around Rita’s shoulders.

Ingo”*, Rita’s eyes twinkled.

“Ajita didi, you know yesterday it was in its element and hanging upside down and looking at me. And you know, it was doing ‘monkey walk’ on the rope just as we do. Meena didi, you know….”

The ‘you know’s went on.

***                                          ***                                          ***

When I did not have to prepare for my class, I used to visit the repair workshop during leisure. On one of my visits there, I found out that the guerillas there made some coarse paper from jungle products as taught by Ajita. It was kept to dry. It was exactly the size, shape and color of a notebook cover.

I already had my lunch. The repair camp guerillas were just leaving for lunch. I too accompanied Ajita so that we can talk.

“Do you think we can produce such paper on a large scale, at this stage?” I could not hide the skepticism in my voice.

“No, not yet. Maybe in future when we establish the base areas. Now I am just trying to open up the imagination of our young comrades towards those things which we can do to avoid some market products and plastic. I also promised to teach them how to make soap, the day after. Oh, Meena, let’s just defeat this OGH third phase, then see what all we can make.”

Ajita’s bubbly enthusiasm was infectious.

“Hm, soap-making may catch up a bit if the Janatana Sarkars are involved,” I said shedding a bit of my earlier skepticism.

The newly arrived urban comrades always brought some wonderfully welcome fresh ideas. But I always waited till they observe our ground realities here and ‘adjusted’ their ‘dreams’ according to it.

“Yeah, maybe, with some push from the leadership. I really think our Jungle Suraksha Vibhags are doing a commendable job in preserving the forest cover.”

“But it is far from enough. The forest cover that we grew up in was far more verdant. It has got reduced a lot.”

“True. But you know, on the other day I found our Vijjal trying to cut down a tree, though in half so that it can grow later. Even while I was wondering if it was so necessary and if I should stop him, Pali was saying – ‘Hey, don’t cut down trees unnecessarily, the Janatana Sarkar would put you in jail’. It was a joke as well as a mild rebuke but the awareness assured me a lot.”

Both of us laughed. After Ajita washed her plate we stopped at the fork in the path wondering whether to go to her dera* or mine.

“I thought I saw you going towards CNM dera every day after lunch?” Ajita asked a bit curiously.

“Oh, Ajita, come, I will show you why I go there everyday.” I took her hand and walked in that direction.

The Division CNM comrades were very busy as they were preparing some songs, dances and plays for the Tenth Anniversary Celebrations of the Formation of the Party. But as always they welcomed us with broad smiles and asked us to make ourselves comfortable and watch their practice.

Ajita questioned me with her eyes. I too answered by gesturing ‘Just a second.’ I went to the backside and brought back with me a ‘water bottle’ made of a dried gourd and gave it to Ajita.


Ajita took a sip. Her eyes widened.

“Wow, this is the most refreshing, coolest water I ever drank.” She gulped some more water eagerly and exclaimed, “Even the twine you made to hang this is not plastic!”

“It is made from the Pavur creeper, my favorite creeper in the forest. You know, its leaves change color in each stage of its life with shades ranging from light pink to the darkest green. It is not only very beautiful to look at but also the most useful one. Every part of the creeper is used by us Adivasis. I can’t think of our life without the Pavur,” I replied.

 Ajita immediately turned towards Urmila, the Division CNM in-charge who was looking at some new tunes along with Ranu and said, “Urmila, really you must propagate these ‘gourd water bottles’ as part of your work.”

Urmila nodded and said, “At least we started maintaining one since two years. We can try….”

Urmila couldn’t complete her sentence due to the sudden hubbub from the CNM comrades who just started practicing some dance steps in the open.

“I know what it is. This Verche just likes the CNM dances and comes right on dot for the practice. See Ranu! How this Verche is always distracting us,” complained Urmila with mock anger even while all her attention was already concentrated on the Verche running around the feet of the dancers.

“Don’t blame it unnecessarily Urmila didi, the poor Verche never distracted us, it is we who are getting distracted by it.” Ranu immediately came to its defence.

All of us burst out laughing.

“Ajita didi, one day I am going to write a song on our Verche. Did you notice? Its name rhymes with Che and it is as daring, dashing, good-looking and popular as him,” gushed Ranu, who often went about in his Che Guevara T-shirt he got to buy in a weekly market when he visited Gadchiroli Division.

“That would be lovely. I am for it. But you should also write how our revolution would preserve all our charming animals like Verches and our earth. Otherwise just a song on Verche would live on the lips of our comrades only till they are in this camp and then die,” I said. I was excited as Ranu was a very good lyricist, one who could bring that ‘extra thing’ to the songs.

“I can’t believe this. How many more avatars is this Verche going to don? Now this has even started ‘dictating’ subjects for our cultural work!” Ajita said feigning envy.

“Countless, I think. Now only the repair camp comrades are left. It’s time even you allotted some role for it,” Urmila teased Ajita.

“Hm, let me think,” Ajita said still admiring the gourd water bottle and the finely woven design of twine around it. It was the only occasion where I found her not being ‘distracted’ by Gilloo.

***                                          ***                                          ***

Some of the comrades, mostly women guerillas, were dedicated feeders and care takers of the Verche and it too immediately responded to them. But its best buddy was the Division Committee Secretary Neelesh. Wherever he may be, how ever busy he may be, he always had an eye for the Verche. Every morning it became a ritual for him to feed it, play with it and carry it on his shoulders for some time before he went off to the class room.

The most interesting part is he was the same comrade who almost lost his life two years back due to a Verche. He was an Adivasi comrade and a senior leader. It was common for us to hunt wild animals and eat them as part of our diet. But we never upset the balance in nature. If ever we did, the party used to caution us. On that day he climbed a tall tree while hunting for a Verche and fell down from that height after losing balance. He was usually a very agile person but somehow on that fateful day he fell down. He became unconscious and we were afraid for his life. He somehow recovered and went around with the support of a walking stick for several days.

 It was really touching to see his gentleness and softness towards the ‘motherless child’. But how can we lose the opportunity he gave us on a platter to pull his leg.

 “Oh, Neelesh, you almost lost your life due to a Verche, how can you pamper it so?”

He just smiled bashfully and went on feeding the Verche with the orange-red flowers that he specially brought from about a distance of fifteen minutes as they were something akin to gulab jamuns on the Verche’s menu.

He slept with Gilloo smugly asleep in its ‘sleeping bag’ beside him, daily.

***                                          ***                                          ***

The Verche became not only a cause of delight but also a cause of worry. Ajita was worried that it may lose its animal instincts due to our upbringing. She tried to notice if it was foraging any food or if it was eating only what we fed it. I shared my other worry with Ajita – would the other Verches let it join the community or see it as an outsider in future?

A point of dispute that divided the camp into two was the daily ritual of bringing the Verche down from the trees to make it sleep in the bag. Ajita. I and some more comrades were arguing for it to be left alone, to let it make its house of leaves in the branches and let it sleep there. Some comrades disagreed saying it was merely a ‘baby’.

I found myself urging the Verche in all the languages I knew to ‘rebel’ and not to come down. To my dismay it used to come down daily after much cajoling by its ‘foster mothers’, both male and female. The only difference was increase in the cajoling time with each passing day. But come down, it did. My only consolation was one day it made its ‘leaf house’ in the branches. Great! It did not lose that instinct.

“How can we let this ‘violence’ happen?  We fight for the freedom of everybody and why are we now curbing its freedom?” Sudhir, the student recruit turned people’s guerilla argued passionately. The experts who could climb the trees and cajole it to come down were oblivious.

Didi, you should definitely write about this. We should let it sleep in the trees,” Sudhir did not forget to tell me for the umpteenth time during the farewell Lal Salaam. Considering the fact that he was getting transferred to another Zone and would not be meeting us for a long time, it was moving how he could remember about the Verche even in those highly emotional parting moments.  

I assured him that our dear Verche was as freedom-loving as any Adivasi or a Maoist is and that it would not let us down. And it did not.

Few days after Sudhir left, one fine evening no amount of cajoling could bring it down and it slept cozily in its leaf house. It weaved the house so expertly like a ball without any fissures that it doesn’t get drenched even in rains.

I mentally noted down the date of its ‘Independence Day’ to write to Sudhir, some day.

***                                          ***                                          ***

The Verche was fed its breakfast by the guerillas as soon as it came down from its home in the morning. It went to the ground with them, ran along with them when they ran in the ground, jumped and hopped along with them when they did their PT. It went to the kitchen whenever they gathered for their breakfast or lunch, nibbled the tit bits they fed it. It played with whoever it liked or whoever liked to play with it till the evening, running around the branches and foraging for food on its own in between all this. Then it went to sleep in its leaf house following its biological clock – satisfied with its well-spent day and with keeping the guerillas cheerful with its existence.

***                                          ***                                          ***

It was time to depart. Different batches were going in different directions and we were standing in rows to shake hands and say our farewell Lal Salaam. The DVC* asked Ajita to give a farewell speech as this was the first repair camp she conducted in DK and she was also the senior-most comrade present.

Usually on such occasions, the senior comrades laud the PLGA comrades’ role in running the camp efficiently and for making the programmes successful by being alert. Sometimes they explained the enemy offensives and did some political motivation. With the OGH third phase looming large in the backdrop, I expected Ajita to talk along the same lines.

Ajita, as anticipated, appreciated the role of PLGA in making the camps successful. Then she started on a completely new note. She pointed out that even the bourgeois press is acknowledging the fact that it is only in the Maoist areas that the forest cover hasn’t reduced or even growing. She emphasized that it requires a Marxist outlook to scientifically understand the relation between revolution and the preservation of our earth and its ecology and only our party can deliver this in our country now. She urged the guerillas to cut down as less trees as possible and to use local products as far as we can, instead of plastic products or other products from the market. She urged the PLGA to complement, strengthen and also to encourage the Janatana Sarkars to do more in this direction as our overall efforts were obviously inadequate.

I was still waiting for the ‘actual’ speech to begin. But that was all.

Then she gave slogans such as, “Inquilab Zindabad,” “CPI (Maoist) Zindabad,” and “Down with imperialism and all reaction.” We responded with some more slogans and the atmosphere was filled with revolutionary fervor as it usually happens during farewells. And the Tenth Anniversary festivity was in the air too.  

I was a bit surprised as I was not used to such farewell speeches. After dispersal, I went to Ajita. My batch had one more hour to leave so I lingered with Ajita’s batch as was my habit. I always remained with the departing comrades till their backs disappeared from sight.

I could not stop myself from asking, “Ajita, you surprised me, I know you are passionate about ecological issues, but you did not even mention the OGH third phase and the seriousness of the offensive or even about the importance of maintaining weapons properly in the battles ahead, which is your forte.”

“We are always talking and preparing ourselves for OGH third phase. And all important political aspects as part of Bolshevisation were dealt in the classes by you teachers. Do you really think I should have made an overdose of it by repeating those in my speech?”

“Not really…” I said haltingly.

“What I talked is not something so unconnected with the offensive. In fact, it is very much a part of our fight against it. You know, this is one important issue on which the Modi government is going to provide us with enormous opportunities what with all the environmental restrictions being lifted most rapidly for the sake of the corporations. Whoever is concerned about ecological issues is bound to turn against the government. We would be able to attract a big section of people ‘outside’ towards our Janatana Sarkars if we implement eco-friendly policies consciously and also make it constantly figure in our propagation of our alternative model of development.”

“In that case, won’t it be more essential to build movements on environmental issues?”

“Of course, that is the most essential thing we should do. And for both kinds of efforts, it is essential that our party and PLGA cadres and all our party members, wherever they may be placed, grasp the importance of ecological issues.”

I was still pondering on what she spoke when Urmila came running carrying in her hand a ‘water bottle’ made of dried gourd. Still panting she affectionately thrust it into Ajita’s hand. Obviously Ajita was elated to receive the gift.

“Ajita Didi, I almost forgot, Ranu made this especially for you. We all wish you could come to the grand finale we are planning for the Tenth Anniversary celebrations. All the CNM teams in the Division would be present and it would be an event to watch,” said Urmila pleadingly.

“I would very much like to. But I told you, we have planned something more important in those dates. I will definitely ask our people to plan for me to attend at least a smaller one,” Ajita replied earnestly.

Urmila happily nodded, once again shook hands with Ajita and was about to leave when she suddenly exclaimed ‘Yayo’ (Oh, Ma) as if she forgot something.

Didi, the Verche left us today morning, I looked for you, but you went away for a bath,” said Urmila who knew Ajita’s fondness for it.

“Is it? Oh, I did not even bid it a farewell…” Ajita regretted.

“Sorry Ajita, I should have told you beforehand, our comrades decided to leave the Verche in the forest some distance away. It has grown up, you know,” I asked for forgiveness.

“I hope it gets accepted in its community and finds its soul mate,” said Ajita in a most endearing tone.

“Me too,” I said, with a tinge of bereavement.

 “You know something, the tenderness with which our comrades raised the Verche here once again confirmed what I had always known instinctively and not just through study or statistics. Our earth, our flora, our fauna, all the nature’s children would be the safest in the hands of Adivasis, that too women.”

“Adivasis? Or Adivasis who turned Maoists? All human beings were none other than Adivasis at one time, then the class society, the imperialism….” I left the sentence unfinished.

“Oh, once a political teacher, everywhere a political teacher! Even now?!” Ajita complained.

I showed no signs of relenting and kept looking at her with a mildly challenging smile. Urmila was looking at both of us with an amused expression.

“Okay, let me put it this way, Adivasis and Maoists, wherever they may hail from, agreed?”

I found nothing much to disagree with this which anyway seemed to have become something like a formula for a panacea.

Smiling, I gave Ajita a warm farewell hug.

***                                          ***                                          ***

It is now months since Gilloo left us. I know I may not be meeting Gilloo again, just as I haven’t met any of the Tilloos or Khushis again till now. But my eyes still instinctively look at the branches above when I listen to a rustle in them. The gentle rustle that announced Gilloo’s playful company to me during the unforgettable days when Gilloo was a part of my/our life.

Now Gilloo is as naturally a part of the Mother Forest as our own PLGA is.

But in my heart of hearts, I know we have not separated but have only become more closely-knit —

as nurslings suckling from the same mother’s breast, as babies cuddling together in the same cradle, as siblings who cannot do without the other….

as children who are not and will never be – ‘Motherless’.


[Written simultaneously in English and Telugu. Published in Telugu in Arunatara in February 2015-Prakruthibiddalu]

  • * Bettuduta in Telugu
  • * Party – The CPI (Maoist)
  • * PLGA – People’s Liberation Guerilla Army
  • * Division – Party’s Organisational division in DK
  • * ACM – Area Committee Members
  • * PM – Party Member
  • * Dada – Elder Brother
  • * Ingo – Yes in Koya
  • * Didi – Elder sister
  • * CNM – Chetna Natya Manch, the DK cultural organisation
  • * Dera – Dwelling place
  • * DVC – (Party’s) Divisional Committee
  • * Inquilab Zindabad – Long live the Revolution

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