By Meghaa Gupta
Memories are central to the human experience, but over time, they begin to fade and if they are not preserved, they are forgotten. The Eaglenest Memory Project by Nandini Dias Velho & Anjora Noronha, published by WWF-India is a unique and heart-warming collage of personal narratives, photographs and sketches, preserving the memories of people from the Bugun and Shertukpen communities living around the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.
The book takes off from the turmoil in these areas during the 1962 Indo-China war and the subsequent environmental damage caused by widespread logging that was eventually banned by the Supreme Court in 1996. It then talks of the visit of the Dalai Lama and the influence of religion in the way people relate to wildlife. Finally, it dwells upon the way of life in these parts and how it’s changed over the time.
The beauty of the book is the ease with which it narrates this history. I have never been to this part of India. Yet, reading this book transported me there, familiarised me to the geography and people, and took me into their lives – their homes, their struggles, their livelihood, their festivities, the wildlife around them. It made the history of this remote, poorly-understood geography come alive.
“Memory projects are first-hand accounts of what is realised, recognised and experienced by people… they reveal missing links to a country’s emotional and personal history” write the authors. This book is testimony to the need for more such projects that preserve the past, allowing readers to witness how time chisels our existence with change. It can make for a wonderful classroom resource and serve as inspiration for more ‘memory projects’.
See more on http://eaglenestmemoryproject.in