Video | “Dark night”: The story behind the Santali song Nut ninda kadam kadam

By Boro Baski

Sorhae parab is also the time to remember the bygone days and to feel nostalgic. When the women of the village return to their parents’ home from their husband’s village with their children they not only renew their love and relationship with their kins at home but also with their childhood friends. In this time of joy of reunion, not everybody are happy. For many, this Sorhae also brings hardships and family break ups. Many married women if not happy at their in-law’s house refuse to return to their husband’s family. And that is what happened with one of my close friends Samiran Murmu, whose dream was shattered and family broken during the time of Sorhae, a few years back.

Samiran Murmu from Jojotola had a very happy family with a beautiful wife and a cute four years old son. After getting a Government job he felt that he had achieved everything that a middle class person like us wanted, such as to have small brick house in a nearby town, a motor bike, fair complexioned wife and a child, for whom he would be able to afford an English medium education. Samiran used to feel that he was very fortunate to have fulfilled his aspirations so early in life, even after coming from a humble background, and having achieved everything that many of his friends could not. Like many Santal youth, he also had a strong love for Santali dance and music. He had some musician friends with whom he often went around attending various musical programmes and festivals in the area after returning from his office in the evening.

Samiran’s wife Lakhi was a pretty lady, and because of her good looks, her parents were worried that she might elope with some boy someday and thus decided to marry her off as soon as they found a good boy with a Government service. Samiran had fulfilled all the requirements of Lakhi’s parents and married her without knowing Lakhi’s wish if she was indeed agreeing to marrying him or not.

Every year during Sorhae Lakhi used to visit her parents’ house and stay there for several days, meeting her village friends and relatives. And that is how she reunited with her childhood boyfriend Mongal Soren of the same village. After getting married, Lakhi had, for many years consciously tried to forget her old love but this silly mobile phone that Samiran had bought for her convenience was the cause of all the damage. One evening, while experimenting with her new mobile phone, she excitedly called her old friend Mongol to let him know that how happy she was in her in-law’s house in the town. But after the first call and after hearing the voice of Mongol, her hidden love for him was aroused again, as if a piece of fire was covered in rice husk for years and now was reintroduced to fresh air and was thus lit again.

Mongal Soren had left school long ago due to poverty and was working as a daily laborer and was unmarried at that time. Lakhi and Mongal grew up together in the village and came in close contact while tending cows and goats in the nearby jungles and river sides for many years. Like other Santal boys and girls they also attended numerous village melas and festivals together in the areas day and night. Once Mongol had proposed to Lakhi for marriage but Lakhi declined the proposal as her parents did not agree as Mongol came from a poorer family.
Now when Lakhi felt lonely within the four walls of the house in town, she became restless and started longing for a close friend to share her feelings and emotions, the mobile phone came as a great relief.

In 2016, Lakhi like every year, went to her parents’ house during Sorhae with her little son and never returned. When Samiran called her parents and asked of her whereabouts, they did not want to disclose the fact that Lakhi had eloped with her childhood boyfriend, instead told him that she had gone to a relative’s house. Lakhi’s family desperately tried to trace her but it was all in vain as she had left for Burdwan with a group of seasonal migrant workers to work in the agricultural lands with Mongal. This type of spicy news does not remain hidden in the village for long and this news spread like wild fire. When Samiran heard the news, he informed the village headman of Lakhi’s village and asked them to bring his wife back. Lakhi returned but not to Samiran but to Mongal’s house. A big village meeting was called few days later in which the headmen and people from other villages also attended. On that day in front of the entire village, Lakhi said that she does not want to stay with Samiran, instead wanted to make a family with her childhood friend Mongol. Everybody tried to convince her to alter her decision but she was adamant. The village headmen and her parents said that ‘if she did not want to stay with Samiran, there was nothing they could do’.

And that is how Samiran’s family was broken. Legally Lakhi was supposed to get to keep her son but she said that since she was not financially capable of taking care of her son, she preferred Samiran to take their son.

I felt sad when I heard of my friend Samiran’s situation and especially for the poor child who will no longer be able to get his parents’ love together. But also felt happy that Lakhi had finally got her real love and had settled where she belongs.

The song ‘Nut Ninda Kadam Kadam’ is dedicated to the love of Lakhi and her childhood friend Mongol.

Dr. Boro Baski works for the community-based organisation Ghosaldanga Adibasi Seva Sangha in West Bengal. The NGO is supported by the German NGO Freundeskreis Ghosaldanga und Bishnubati. He was the first person from his village to go to college as well as the first to earn a PhD (in social work) at Viswa-Bharati. This university was founded by Rabindranath Tagore to foster integrated rural development with respect for cultural diversity. The cooperation he inspired helps local communities to improve agriculture, economical and environmental conditions locally, besides facilitating education and health care based on modern science.

He authored Santali translations of two major works by Rabindranath Tagore, the essay “Vidyasagar-Charit” and the drama Raktakarabi (English “Red Oleanders”), jointly published by the Asiatic Society & Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) in 2020.

Other posts contributed by Dr. Boro Baski >>

Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
Registration under Trust Registration Act 1982
P.O. Sattore, Dist. Birbhum
West Bengal-731 236

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