Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lilly From The Forest, Yes That Is What She Is!!

BHUBANESWAR, SEPT. 08, 2008, 11.00 Hrs (Thomas Pallithanam Sdb/CBCI News):

It was past mid-day, 15.00 hrs to be precise, 26th August and Minaki was 9 months pregnant and her baby was due any day. That is when the rampaging crowd of RSS, VHP and Bajarang Dal attacked the Christian half of the village of Barakhama. Minaki along with the others fled to the forest. There she delivered her baby in fear and trembling, on the third day in the forest.

It is past 02.00 hrs (September 7, 2008). I am just back from a visit to Kandhamal. And morning I should leave for Hyderabad enroute to Nasik. But this story cannot wait. For this is the story of life in the midst of death and suffering, hopelessness and fear. Fear, yes, that is why I had to go to Kandhamal, to break the shackles of fear within me and within so many like me. I would not have forgiven myself if I had not gone to Kandhamal. It is true everyone advised against it. But the risk had to be taken. If anything happened to me then we would know that the danger is for real. If I returned safe then we could all make a start in reaching out to those out there. It was a risk worth taking.

I am glad I went. I requested Mr. Bibhuti Pati a Tehelka Journalist to take me as his photographer. His identity would be a cover. The shield would always be HIM. And HE took me to Barakhama, the village that had seen intense strife during the last bout of violence. This was even worse. Two were killed in the clashes. But for now let us talk about life.

As the marauding crowd descended on the village, Minaki rang for her life and for the life within her to the shelter of the forest. Famished and exhausted, keeping herself alive for the life that she would bring to this earth, the little one was born on the third day of the stay in the forest, in the cool of the night. I asked her ``What name are you going to give her - Vanamika? Quick came the reply ``Lily!`` - Lily of the forest!

Doesn`t she look cute? She does. She also brings hope, hope for tomorrow, for another world that is possible, where all can grow and bloom and spread the fragrance of peace and joy, and for a people ``that will not be broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls``