Meet Moyna, a delightful 10-year-old with sparkling eyes, endless energy and insatiable curiosity. She is the protagonist of Mahashweta Devi’s lovely short story about the landless Shabar tribals. Little Moyna tends the goats of the village landlords and helps her mother with heavy housework.
But Moyna is not crushed by these circumstances. Instead, she constantly demands answers to her questions. “But why?” she asks, “Why shouldn’t I catch a cobra?” or “Why do we live in a leaf hut?” or “Why can’t fish speak?” or “Why shouldn’t I study too?”
Mahashweta Devi is one of India’s foremost writers and has worked with the tribals of Bengal, Jharkahand and Gujarat. Her affection for this why-why girl, who grew up to become the village teacher, is apparent in every line. And the story about this inquisitive child will touch a chord with—and open the eyes of—children who have grown up in a very different world.