Shimoga: Picking up Kumuda

Despite the tension we reach Kumuda’s house which we discover is situated at the epicentre of the conflict raging through the city!  After the riots that had spread through the town the last couple of days, a young man was found murdered right behind her house early that morning.

The first to be educated and working as an engineer in KEB Kumuda had to struggle against tremendous odds  inorder to follow her passions…be it continuing her studies to complete her Engineering, or her MA in Janapada or a diploma in film making only so that she could document her community on film…..or doing the hundred different things that catch her attention and curiosity ! And all this while fighting with her family to continue her studies after SSLC, not to get married, having four children after she was forced to get married and then take care of her remarkably supportive husband when he had an accident that left him with critical brain injuries.  With all this she refused to let domesticity tie her down and  she is almost full time involved with government institutions like  the State Tribal Research Centre in putting together a dictionary of Hakki Pikki words, doing a survey of tribal communities, speaking at numerous seminars and public meetings and obsessively tracing the lineage of each of the four clans that the Hakki Pikkis are divided from all the tribal elders she seeks out and meets on her travels. She is a walking talking myth collector and myth maker on her way to becoming the first anthropologist of her own community! And the startling connection we discovered in our very first talk even before we met, was that, when young, she had drawn tremendous inspiration from Rajeshwari, one of the founder members of Vimochana who had subsequently started the Manasa Patrike, who she never met but was in correspondence with.

Serendipity……!

We are greeted at the entrance of her house with the cheerful chirps of some parrots and doves that are unfortunately caged! This and the colourful thornas declare that this is an unlikely Hakki Pikki abode. But one that belongs to somebody who has emerged from the dera in her lifetime. And on her own strength and in her own terms. She proudly shows us the books she has worked on. Talking at break neck speed, despite being indisposed, she also shows us pages of a paper she is working on the sister community Chille Kyathas for a presentation she is due to make in Gulbarga in a couple of weeks

She finally packs herself and her family into the  van and we are off to first stop Hasthapanahalli, her maternal home. Given the tensions in the city she feels safer with her children around her.

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