Peasant Autonomy
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Story 144

Bihar, India - 1992

Hunting festival

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: CroDigTap)


Mary hacks away with her blade at the contractor who lay at the ground. At the first blow he still looks at her with wide terrified eyes, but then his head sinks away. Mary takes his wallet, puts the big pile of banknotes into a corner of her sari and ties it up well. She has blood on her arms and also on her sari. She will wash it out at the nearby stream. She drags the dead body to the edge of the ravine a few meters away, and pushes it down. It tumbles into the endless depths. Tonight the leopard and other animals will feast upon it. Or not. She doesn't care.

For months the contractor had troubled Mary. He had come in the area of the Oraon people for cutting big trees and selling them at a huge profit to timber companies. Strong villagers, men and women, did the heavy work, for low daily wages. When his eye fell on the young and slender Mary, immediately he was lost. He had to get her, although she was already engaged.
Time and time again he tried to have a chat with her, or he brought a present. Mary didn't like it at all, replied to every remark with an insult, and accepted no present. She threatened to cut off his nose, if he should even so much as touch her. Her rude remarks made Mary still more attractive in the eyes of the contractor. He had to get her soon, because the cutting of the trees was almost over.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: IFPRI)


Some time later the contractor had waylaid Mary on a small forest path and caught her from behind. She had great difficulty in freeing herself, and then, when she looked at him, she saw the animal within him. “Soon there will be the hunting festival of our village,” flashed through her, “and this man will be my prey.”
“Let us meet at that big rock on the day of the festival,” she had said to the contractor with a big smile. “Near the ravine, you know. We will have our own party there.” The man was surprised, but at the same time extremely happy. Now, at last, he would get what he wanted!

After cleaning herself thoroughly in the stream and washing away the blood on her sari, Mary walks in a good mood to her village, where the hunting party is in full swing. She drinks, sings, and dances better than anyone else. Late in the night she walks away to the nearby town where the bus station is. Together with her fiancé she will travel to one big city or another to build up a new life.


The book Imaginary Maps from the Indian author Mahasweta Devi portrays in three impressive stories the bitter life of the indigenous peoples of India.

Go to:
= the next page: The mysterious bird - a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India – 1993, story 145.
= the Table of contents, story 144.