Monday, Mar 20, 2023
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A Poet Recounts The Story Of Her Mother Being Branded A ‘Witch’

Witch Killings

A Poet Recounts The Story Of Her Mother Being Branded A ‘Witch’

More than the lack of education and health services, it is the politics of dispossessing a woman that keeps the belief in the ‘witch’ alive

Artwork by Anupriya

At the time, my father had been transferred to Siwan district of undivided Bihar. He worked in the police department and we moved into a government quarter in the police line. We lived on the first floor and another Adivasi family lived in the flat below. When their daughter was born, my mother often visited them. They were Adivasi Oraon like us and used to speak the Kurukh language. My mother would also give massage to their young baby girl. One day, the girl fell sick. My mother went to advise them based on her knowledge and experience. She also suggested that they take her to the doctor. However, they stopped my mother from entering their house. Later, we heard that they had started calling my mother a dayan (witch) behind our back. They thought my mother had done something sinister to make their daughter fall sick.

Thus, we first heard the word dayan being used for our mother. This was hurtful. The word was not just insulting but also scary for a woman who used to help everyone in the neighbourhood, even took care of their children and shared sorrows and joys with other women. We had been subjected to the slur not by any other community but our own.

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