When he was just 12 years old,Aditya Kumar Mandi saw his parents being excommunicated from their village Burughutu in Bankura district of West Bengal because they bought two bighas of land from another farmer.
In our village,we could only own ancestral land, says Mandi,now 38. It was very cruel. People were forbidden from speaking to us,we could not use the village well,and our land was taken away. One day,my father left home and never returned, he adds.
That incident inspired him to start writing mainly poems when he was just 19 years old,to show how man can be mans worst enemy,even as he joined the CISF. Earlier this month,Mandi got the Sahitya Akademi award for his contribution to poetry in Santhali language.
Now posted at Farakka,in Malda district of Bengal,Mandi has published 14 books in Santhali,including an autobiography.
The Constitution of India can forgive them (his fellow villagers) for their superstitions,but my pen will not. That was my first thought, says the CISF constable,recalling how he started writing his first poem,Aam Do Okhal Ka (Who are you). Between 1996 and 1999 he published a series of poems on Santhali beliefs.
These were followed by poems on his life as a sipahi. I wrote about the threat of terrorism. Naxalism, he says.