Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Dolls Speak

Published by Carmel International Publishing House - CIPH
Cotton Hill, Trivandrum, Kerala, India – 695014
Ph: +91 – 0471 – 2327253,
Mobile : +91 – 9447037580
Book designer: Dinesh Francis
Hardbound:  Rs 600 in India
                     Euro 25 outside India
Paperback:   Rs 500 in India
                     Euro 20 outside India


Introduction to “The Dolls Speak”

Taken from the back of the book cover

This book presents a collection of dolls made over a period of thirty five years by Francoise Bosteels, a Belgian by birth who came to India forty years ago.

“The Dolls Speak. Their images speak too. They bid us listen. They speak of the common people and their every day life. They represent phases of our human condition, and facets of our domestic, social, religious and aesthetic life. They are not dolls in the dictionary sense of ‘models for children to play with’. They show us around and guide us towards a deeper awareness of the ‘other India’, the India of the excluded, the oppressed and the despised. They make problems present and challenge us to responsible intervention. We stand summoned to probe, grasp and disclose the human depths and the hidden riches of people’s daily life. These dolls urge us to join the masses in their struggle to change what ill accords with human dignity and hurts the wholeness of the human family”.

The dolls are created from the author’s real experiences in India. Born of compassion and love, “They are a part of me”, their maker tells us touchingly, “and I a part of them”.  

~ Samuel Rayan

The Dolls and this book

In December 1996, the Ecumenical Association of Third-World Theologians (EATWOT) held its fourth international meeting in Tagaytay, Philippines. The theme of the conference was: Globalisation and its impact on People’s Life, The challenges to Theology.

I was invited to present these dolls to illustrate some of the issues that were bound to come up in the discussion of the theme.

Women participants suggested we publish a book with pictures of these dolls and brief write-ups to go with them. They felt that such a book would illustrate many of the points that came up in the presentations and the discussions. They hoped that the book would be EATWOT women’s contribution towards an understanding of such aspects of globalisation that tend to diminish the quality of life in Third-World countries. Hence the creation of the book, ‘The Dolls Speak’ released in year 2000 with a first exhibition open to the public.

The hundred dolls in this book illustrate the artistic and creative aspects of people’s lives. They relate to the household and the village, to tragedies and various forms of oppression, to caste, class and gender issues, the destruction of mother earth, signs of resistance and hope, of liberation movements and celebration of life.

Much has happened since the first book, ‘The Dolls Speak’ was published in 2000. Inspired and challenged by various social realities, my reflection and artistic creations continued to take shape throughout the years. My friends have also been encouraging me to bring out an updated second edition of the book. The task has been challenging because all the pictures taken on slides now had to be re-taken on digital camera. I took this opportunity to add 20 new pictures of dolls with writings to go with, created after the release of the two later publications: ‘Through The Needle’s Eye’, and ‘Human Icons, Sacred Stories’. 

Excerpts of poems and pictures from the book:

Bathing the Child

The languages of
smile and
mostly  speak more
than clever words!

~ Jane Sahi

Come Buy my Koodai

Come buy my koodai.
They’re strong; they’ll last,
may be for years.

Frail did you say?
Each strip I weave
takes strength from the next;
each koodai we make
goes back in time
to when matting began.
My mother taught me the skill;
she got it from hers.

You’ve switched to plastic!
How long will those last?
How long have those been with us?
And till when will they be safe?

My koodai will never fail you;
store food or what you will.
The bamboo’s fresh from a clump I know.
What dump is your plastic from?

~ Jyoti Sanyal

Krishna with the Flute

I am a flute in the Lord’s palm,
waiting for the divine breath
that wakes to life
the plants and the flowers,
the lamb, and the duck.
The cosmic, human, and divine
merge into one flow of love.

Krishna’s music filled women
with joy and peace.
His flute drew them 
to the divine musician
and woke them 
to a new sense of their worth.

His flute, the harmony of its notes,
entranced all creation
into Krishna’s world of love.

~ Philo Varghese

I Learn

My daughter is at school;
I learn at home.
I get my child
to tell me
what she has been told.

Today I wrote my name;
my address too.
But I must hurry
and learn much more.

The moneylender 
keeps showing me
figures I cannot read.
He tells me I haven’t paid my loan as yet    
though I pay him every week.

I need to read what he writes down
in that book of his;
he fudges figures; this I know
but I cannot
match his trick.

~ Jyoti Sanyal

The  Carpenter

Hello, carpenter!
So stooped, so bend, so squat, 
so bowed as in prayer; 
 What are you doing?

I create, as the Lord did create!

Create what?

Newness in shape, in form and in function.
Dead wood I turn to things you can use,
giving life better odds, better options.

How do you create?

I chip and chisel, I plane and polish,
I fit and rivet, and fix little parts.
To plain wood I give form, function and finish.

Creation is work done with passion and relish.

How do you actually create?

I look at the log, this wood and its temper,
to see what I can make of this lump and timber,
to give to all life more options, more flavour,
to suit human needs, human taste and savour.

Then the Lord smiles, AND I LABOUR!

~ Dominic George


Go away!
What do you want?
Season after season,
we see you,
the likes of you.

What do you want to know?
No, we are outcastes.
If you call it so.
No. No. NO.

Do you want to know something?
Give us land.
Some land.
Not promises, but land.
Land we can call our own.
Land with no landlord.
Land we could work on.
Land whose product we could own.

So, no one could throw us out.
Burn our homes.
Rape our women.
Roast us alive.

Yes, give us land.
Then we will have food.
Maybe, we have a caste too.

Right now, we have nothing.
We are landless.

~ Hari Sharma

Women Heal the Earth

She bleeds.
With every slash on her body
she weeps!
The electric saw cuts deep….
cuts quickly.

And slowly the forest dies….
the soil dies….
the earth dies….
God knows that the earth weeps,
and weeps with her.

She bleeds.
With every battering of her body
she weeps!
His hand has power.… 
It cuts deep into her gentle soul.
We all weep!
Slowly the women die….
The community dies….
God knows that the women weep,
and weeps with them.

The women resist the saw
of the profit-seeking contractor.
The women use their wounded bodies
to save their trees.
They cling to trees, defying death.
They stop the saw.
They stop the flow of blood.
They heal the forest.
They heal the earth.

The women resist the violence,
the power of the arrogant and strong.
The women transcend suffering and pain
to save their lives.

Women of the CHIPKO movement,
women of the earth,
women survivors of violence,
women of hope….
They weep no more.
They heal their bodies.
They heal the earth.…

~ Aruna Gnanadasan