Twist of the Tongue

Voices from within: Members of the Pahadi Korba tribe at a workshop in Gitkalo village in Chhattisgarh.

Inside the small hall of a primary school in the Dharamjaigarh block of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, a small group of women of the Pahadi Korba tribe sits near the window, their faces to the floor, their hands covering their mouths, and their bodies shaking uncontrollably with laughter. The laughter comes from within — a mixture of joy, wonder and embarrassment. The source of mirth is the speakers and laptop they have seen for the first time, through which they are hearing their own voices and the songs sung in their own bhashi (language). The irony is that while they know the language, not one of them actually understands the words. Which is why they now seek to protect their language through recordings, editing and bluetooth radio.

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