Mahasweta Devi, the noted Bengali writer disgusted by the modes of humiliation that the lower castes, especially the womenfolk, are subjected to and the champion of the cause of the ‘untouchables’, is horrified by the game of politics that tries to break the spirit of men and women who fight for emancipation from slavery on behalf of their caste and clan. Hence she embarks on a project of presenting the shocking realities that happen behind the socioeconomic and political iron curtains, through her most powerful work Draupadi.
Draupadi is a story of Dopdi Majhen, it is a story of victimization of a woman who dares to confront the oppressive system. It narrates the predicament of a tribal woman caught between the pulls of subsistence living and the appropriate logic of feudalistic-modernist patriarchal state and its allied system. Dopdi Majhen, a naxalites informer-activist, is a Santhal. Dopdi has proved a match for Senanayak’s cunning and has, so far, eluded his grasp.
In theory, Senanayak can identify with the enemy. But pluralist aesthetes of the First World are, willy-nilly, participants in the production of an exploitative society. Hence in practice, Senanayak must destroy the enemy, the menacing other. He follows the necessities and contingencies of what he sees as his historical moment. There is a convenient colloquial name for that as well: pragmatism. Thus his emotions at Dopdi’s capture are mixed: sorrow (theory) and joy (practice).
Correspondingly, we grieve for our Third-World sisters; we grieve and rejoice that they must lose themselves and become a much like us as possible in order to be free, we congratulate ourselves on our specialists’ knowledge of them. Indeed, like ours, Senanayak’s project is interpretive: he looks to decipher Draupadi’s song. For both sides of the rift within himself, he finds analogies in Western literature: Hochhuth’s The Deputy David Morrell’s First Blood. He will shed his guilt when the time comes. His self-image for that uncertain future is Prospero.
Operation Jharkhani gains momentum under the leadership of Senanayak, ‘a specialist in combat and extreme left politics.’ He is a seasoned military strategist with mastery over ‘theories on how to defeat the enemy by learning their language, using tribal informats and ‘countering techniques;
“In order to destroy the enemy, become one. Thus he understood them by (theoretically) becoming one of them. He hopes to write on all this in the future. He has also decided that in his written work he will demolish the gentlemen and highlight the message of the harvest workers.”
Suggested Reading :Draupadi as a Subaltern Text
Surprisingly enough one may detect that the reinvented Draupadi emerges as a heroic figure. The tribal Dopdi allows men to strip her of as this has been shown as the result of political punishment. At this point in the story we suddenly come across a completely transformed Dopdi. We are taken aback as when she hears move! She burst into asking :
“Where do you want me to go? Draupadi fixes her eyes on the tent. Says, Come I’ll go … Draupadi stands up. She pours the water down on the ground. Tears her piece of cloth with her teeth.”
Senanayak is bewildered and obstruct to see her “Naked walking towards him in the bright sunlight with her head high”. As she comes closer, laughs and says. “The object of your search, Dopdi Mehjen. You asked them to make me up, don’t you want to see how they made me?” she palpably refuses to put on cloths and says “what’s the use of clothes? You can strip me but how can you clothe me again? Are you a man?”
It seems as if Dopdi dies in her and freaks like a new Dopdi is bom out of the ashes. She protests the entire hungry phallus society and contemptuously asks :
“what more can you do? Come on, counter me- come on, counter me?”
In spite of using the word ‘encounter she ask them to ‘counter her and her ignorant and indigenous way she uses English language correctly even without knowing it. She challenges her politico sexual enemy Senanayak to encounter her.
Senanayak’s whole theory and practice face a genuine challenge in front of black naked body of Dopdi. His cunning practice has captured the body of Dopdi but he could not do the same for her indomitable spirit. He clearly becomes the representative of the inhuman system of administration that went hand in hand with the landlords and the exploiters of daily wagers.
In her ultimate denial to clothe herself, Dopdi, not only exposes the ugly and horrifying face of political repressive forces including government, bureaucrats, feudal masters and the state sponsored delinquents, but also challenges the might of callous post-colonial state embodied in the figure of Senanayak and “for the first time Senanayak is afraid to stand before an unarmed target, terribly afraid.”