By Madhusree Mukherjee
Studying the tribes of Andamans is a dream come true for every anthropologist. Madhusree Mukherjee even though has a science background , she did a fascinating yet faithful job .
The tribes of the land who are also known as the dearest children of the mother Earth in local parlance of each and every Indian language are torn away from tgeir mother and their umbilical cord is cut feriociously. Apart from the people of war ravaged nations , they are the worst hit by various factors and the reasons are plenty. The phase wise depravation of a careful well established relationship between the tribes of Andamans and the mother nature is carefully explored and scrutinized by Madhusree in a riveting manner which is unusual for even a sociologist writer.
The tribes of Andaman archipelago have been classified into four major types :Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, and Sentinelese. Each tribe demarcated their territory in the islands. They have been forced into being recognized as stone age people. The circumstances leading to such descriptions are beautifully interwoven into the details given by the author. All the questions like : how did the islands get their name ? , what were the living conditions of the aboriginal community before and after British government expeditions ? , how they fare now? Are all beautifully explained throughout the book. Some of them gave up very early but some did put up a brave fight until they lost their lives and land and some like Sentinelese are still fighting till date. The chronological depiction of their plight wrecks the strings of every heart. The word “enculturation” may have little significance for us mainlanders but it means a lot of destruction and havoc to the peace loving and widely misunderstood tribes of Andamans. The plain facts of the violent history laden with the countless deaths may have become boring but the author maintains her balance between such historical facts and the mesmerizing tales of their original lives. Capturing the their festivities surrounding birth, adolescence, marriage and death as if their own native is telling the story is truly amazing.
The islanders have been brazenly branded as savages due to their nakedness but I can vouch for that is best type of clothing based on the account of my first hand visit to these islands.
I had bought this book with little or no expectation due to my past experience with the same genre authors . On the other hand it flipped my brains and wrecked my nerves like nothing else. It’s a must read for anyone to understand how blessed we are🤔