A recent meeting organised by a group of students and civilians from the state of Kashmir led to one of the strongest, most infamous and violent protest the country had ever seen. These were just students from the state of Kashmir who wanted to talk to people about the problems and difficulties they face on their own state and hometown. What should have been a peaceful exchange of ideas and opinions soon led to a clash between ideologies and diversities.
Anubha Bhonsle’s ‘Mother Where’s My Country?’ is an account of many such incidents and opinions that have been somehow hidden away from our sight. It’s a picture that was always in front of us; yet never seen. Anubha Bhonsle begins by painting a picture of Manipur’s history which includes it’s struggle for Independence and it’s subsequent addition and recognition with India. She tells us a story of a state whose inhabitants have lost more than just their freedom. While some have lost their livelihoods; some of them have lost their relatives; some of them have lost their lives.
Iron Sharmila, the Iron Lady of India, is now in the 15th year of her fast in protest against the AFSPA Act which is still applicable in Manipur. In this book, we are told about the events and circumstances that inspired Sharmila to take the step many never believed she could go through. In this book, Anubha Bhonsle describes Sharmila as more than just a protestor whose only identity that remains popular is undoubtedly the stance she has taken to ‘payback to all the mothers whose milk she drank’. Irom is on a path only few would have ever taken. And she has every intention to see the end of it.
As Anubha describes Manipur and the various struggles it has been facing since time immemorial; she also touches on a few aspects that help you see Manipur and it’s people in a new light. Her description of Manipur and the tribes that live within it begins with the migration of one section of a tribe to the valley side and other’s decision to stay back in the hilly terrains. We understand how the difference between two branches of the same tree widens when one tree gets more sunlight than the other. Anubha also introduces Sharmila’s family and the immense yet completely silent support they have showered over Sharmila and to others over the years.
Anubha Bhonsle’s Mother Where’s My Country? is a good read if you find yourself interested in the politics and society of one of the largest country of the world. But it just doesn’t end there. Mother Where’s My Country? is a revolution in every sense of the word. It’s a proof that the pen is mightier than the sword.
It’s a story that needed to be told.
– Sanity, Gauri