Dear Daya bai
After reading the narration of your experience in the form of a letter to Goi, I too felt it would be effective to narrate my experience in the same manner.
It was not just the curiosity to be a day with a well acclaimed personality that led me to visit and spend a day with you. After reading your biography ‘Pachaviral’ I was longing to meet you, that time I was carried away by the uncompromising battle that you waged against injustice and enormous strength in you to challenge all odds in life without an iota of fear. I had to wait few more years to realize my intense desire to visit you though I had met you earlier.
Today the world knows your long walk to the life that you wished to live, the lonely battles that you waged against the powerful, how you declassed and became one among the tribal community of rural village far away from your native place, how you lived a simple life as a symbol of peace, harmony and compassion in the midst of all fierce and destructive mainstream way of life. You have become an icon of gallant effort to walk the talk, firm struggle for justice, and liberation from all outward shackles that makes one victim of dualities/compromises in life. I am sure it’s not all about your life- the inner conflicts that you went through, the pain that shattered you, the moments that you wept as an ordinary woman, the moments of darkness that engulfed your being, vulnerability in the midst of chaos and confusion, your long journey through the dark tunnel in utter helplessness, the amount of tears that spilled over and myriads of other matters that disturbed you might not have enchanted the many who were thrilled and celebrated your marvelous life.
You called me several times over the phone after my departure from Bhopal although you had told me the details of location and how to reach there. I could feel the concern of a mother who could not relax until her son reaches an unknown destination safe. You were there at the gate with a warm smile that radiated love and compassion in the true sense. I was not surprised to see your simple home beside the hill that was not different from the shelter of an ordinary villager but for a circular space for group meeting with a bamboo top floor. I could really feel your ‘uncivilized’ life, no chair to sit (two chairs were there for Chandu and Ashuthosh, two pet dogs of Daya bai) no dining table, no equipments essential for modern life, one room full of equipment for agriculture, some books beside the bed made of mud, a clothe made almarah to keep your cotton sarees, all added to the poise to your real life. I could feel your potent fight against market economy, though you don’t claim so, that the urban middle class and upper middle class intellectuals fail to adopt or even recognize in their fight against globalization. Though you did not use any jargons from the dictionary of an intellectual or try to theorize and give ideological explanations for the meaningful way of life that you adopted and principles that you imbibed and practiced in your life, I could sense the depth of your vision and commitment. I realized people who live fully without contradictions or minimum inevitable contradictions do not theorize every act they engage and take credit for that. They live it without much sound and fury and that is the beauty of it. I could feel you were simply living a higher value of life just like an ordinary person in your neighborhood. Of course you must be conscious about your act but more were outcome of values internalized without complexity and thus reflected in action naturally. The wrinkles on your face could not screen the reflections of straight forward life and elegance of your nature.
I am happy to know that the world recognizes you, individuals and organizations invite you for various programmes, give you awards, some of the enlightened beings support you and encourage you. However I am afraid if some of them were only showcasing the vivacious and meaningful life that you live courageously instead of making any attempt to imbibe the values in their own life first and spread out it in the society. I wish those who really share your views and appreciate your meaningful life should exhibit it by imbibing your values in their own life that would be a more valuable award for you. I wish if you were not just showcased but lived. I was not surprised when I heard from you how the students of elite private schools listen to you and sit like a ‘statue’ without evincing any response of a living human being. As you rightly said education system sucks the vitality and their intrinsic ability to be creative. I also wish the way you live is not conceived as something peculiar that could be emulated rarely by exceptional people. I wish people see the ordinary in you than the extraordinary so that they appreciate you are just living with the sensitivity, compassion and sense of justice and equality that everyone is expected to live.
When you narrated how you started talking to Chandu and Ashuthosh over the phone when you go out, I could really feel your bonding with every living and nonliving things around you. I did not feel it as a mystic relationship with your pet dogs. I could really experience the pain that you went through when a hen died and you went fasting. I had no doubt when you narrated how you communicate with birds and animals. In fact you are inextricably connected with everything around you. So you could make the barren land fertile with your own effort, you could find your food from your land; you could find most of the resources from local surrounding itself. Shouldn’t we learn from you? Shouldn’t we start living your values and principles? You are another example how compassion is a higher value of life than mere sympathy, an essential ingredient of true love.
When you narrated how you were tortured in the police station and later you lost your teeth, as a routine incident in life I thought about many other people who create history out of mundane experience of life or unintentional ‘heroic’ actions. I could really see how you take up the fight against tyranny of the powerful and injustice towards the vulnerable as a normal course of life and its awful consequences as its normal outcome.
I did not try to see what I wanted in your life according to my perspective and wish. I did not try to approach your life and work with my own parameters and framework. I don’t want to see you as a solution for all the issues in the world. There are diverse ways and means to tackle the problems that the world faces today. One could easily point out better ways to your way of life and response towards injustice. One can ask myriads of questions on what you did in the past. Why couldn’t you form an organization? Why didn’t you try to organize the tribal women? Why didn’t you engage in other means to empower the marginalized? Does your single army fight bring radical change in society and existing system? I have answers for such questions. Let Daya bai find her own path. She is not the only woman in the world to find solution for all issues. Let us not see her as an incarnation of omnipotent God. Ultimately she is a human being, one among us who realized the value of living beyond her own life.