As soon as we turned the motorbike from the concrete road to the single lane path into to the bushes silence descended between Habil, my pillion rider, and me. The stony bushy hill was a difficult terrain to negotiate by a rickety motorcycle. The silence of the forest almost drowned the rambling sound of the motorcycle. Silence is the language of the forests heard in the flowing streams, rustling leaves, chirping birds and definitely in the playfulness of the young animals. It is not a good idea at all to ride on a winding path and raise questions in the winding grooves of the brain; yet the question raised its head: How does this silence affects the human beings? Are the people being formed by this silence?
By this time we crossed a flowing stream with mud cakes splashed on our pants. The questions continued: Are shouting, yelling, and selfish human beings affected by this silence? Do villagers in these jungles live such a silence? We turned to a village street. It is about 11.30 A.M. A pleasant but uncertain silence hit our beings. No sound of children and no sound of cattle either. Hirapur nestled in the valley hiding itself among the trees and thick bushes. Diamond is the meaning of the village name: how aptly named: silently hidden till discovered and the true worth proclaimed. There is a saying among the indigenous population of the Jharkhand in India: walk is like a dancing step and words are songs. Only people in harmony could live such an integrated holistic thinking; silence then forms the soul of the people. People live a recollected life.
In the meanwhile on this day, 13th of February 2011, People began gathering, they have walked long distances; they whisper to each other; the meeting started and the smiling faces began enquire about the situation around. I was thrown back by a sudden yelling voice; heads raised in surprise and some in disapproval. I heard it intently and realized that something is brewing among the young men and women. The yelling voice talked: companies will take over the land; they want to make a coal mine; they want to throw us out from our beloved trees and the hills; “we shall no more be silent”, yes he said it. Ah! the harmony broken; Silence will be no more their identity marker. They have to shout to be heard that they need silence to save their souls. How would the company treat trees and water, would it dig and dig desecrating the earth to find the minerals… at the end the man asked “why does development bring tears to our children?” Silence descended on the gathered anxious faces and hearts. The harmonious silence is turned on its head: the deathly silence followed and then came the voices: we cannot be silent any more.
We shall inform ourselves; talk to authorities; know our rights; meet the representatives tell of our plight; demand to know the information regarding the companies that will intrude in this silent valley.
Who will talk for us with us and accompany us…? GIAN can indeed be part of this struggle to bring the harmonious silence again.