Thinking Big: Small dreams, small things

The Right to Dream, and to live again! Listening to Mahasweta Devi is
a spiritually uplifting and ethically cleansing experience. At the
Diggi Palace in Jaipur, the 87-year-old writer-activist wove a spell,
her voice incandescent with wit, compassion and passion that mark her
writings. We all dream a thousand dreams, but it did not strike many
of us that dreaming should be a fundamental right – a dream that has a
special resonance in a country when millions continue to be buried in
poverty and destitution, their dreams choked by the sheer compulsions
of survival.

“O to Live Again!’ – at my age, this desire is almost a mischievous
one; look at all the damage I’ve done being around longer than I
should have!” Thus began her keynote speech at the Jaipur Literary
Festival, drawing in hundreds who had gathered to be in the presence
of a writer who epitomize the audacity of dreaming.

The author, who has consistently stood up for the oppressed and the
dispossessed, kindled anew the romance of revolution. “All my life I
have seen small people with small dreams. It looked like they wanted
to put them all in a box and keep them locked up…but somewhere, some
of them escaped, as if there has been a jailbreak of dreams. Like the
Naxalites. Their crime is they dared to dream. And why shouldn’t

“The right to dream should be the first fundamental right of people,” she said.

It’s not only poverty that buries the power of dreaming; fake morality
could also be a deadly poison. Mahasweta Devi scorned at “the middle
class morality where everything is suppressed”. “Going around the
circle of life, of youth, of motherhood…”

In a globalizing world, the celebrated octogenarian author asked the
audience to think afresh about how to shield the vulnerable.

“The only way to counter globalisation is to have a plot of land in
some central place, keep it covered in grass, let there be a single
tree, even a wild tree. Let your son’s tricycle lie there. Let some
poor child come and play, let a bird come and use the tree. Small
things. Small dreams,” said Devi, who has worked closely with tribes
and marginalized communities.

Small things, small dreams – human-all-too human thoughts we sorely
need in this mindlessly consuming, globalizing world.

Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.