Copy of Physical Event

Dismantling Caste, One Word at a Time!

These verses are an expression of the historical marginalization of Dalits and are a call for equality.

This Dalit History Month and National Poetry Writing Month, when we are surrounded by stories of Dalit struggles and accomplishments and poetry, here are some verses that take an anti-caste stance! These verses are an expression of the historical marginalization of Dalits and are a call for equality. Of course, as Chandramohan tells us, it is not enough to read Dalit poetry but also to understand the politics that inform it.

Here’s what we are reading!

#1 

Mother, you used to tell me

when I was born

your labour was very long.

The reason, mother,

the reason for your long labour;

I, still in your womb, was wondering

Do I want to be born—

Do I want to be born at all

in this land?

Where all paths raced horizonwards

but to me were barred.

Extract from ‘To be or not to be born’ by L. S. Rokade (translated by Shanta Gokhale)


#2

HISTORY

I write poems in a language not sung at my cradle

What songs will be sung at my grave?

Words scrubbed and sanitized clean

for a sterile and synthetic history.

Source: ‘The Poems of Resistance by S. Chandramohan’ Leftword Books blog post


#3

O Yashodhara!

You are like a dream of sharp pain,

life-long sorrow.

I don’t have the audacity to look at you.

We were brightened by Buddha’s light,

but you absorbed the dark

until your life was mottled blue and black,

A fragmented life, burnt out,

O Yashodhara!

Extract from ‘Yashodhara’ by Hira Bansode (translated by Jayant Karve and Philip Engblom)


#4

My bodies, our bodies,

Visible bodies, invisible bodies

Invisibilized bodies.

Dead, alive,

How does it matter?

Matters is your walk…

Which overlooks my kind

Like a voyeur does

Such is a privilege of distance,

My friend!

You won’t understand.

Just tail end nibs

Of your rainbow feathers,

What about us? you call–

Your “intimate”, but “others”.

Source: Dhiren Borisa, ‘Hopeful Rantings of a Dalit-Queer Person’ (2020) JLHR


#5

Her eyes two dry hollows bear silent witness

To hundreds of deaths of her mothers, daughters, sisters

Their dreams, respect and their bodies.

Her cracked heels, her wrinkled hair

Tell the tales of living through fears and years

Of centuries and millennia of violations and deaths.

She was told

That she was dirt,

She was filth and

In this sacred land of thousands of goddesses

She is called a Dalit.

Extract from ‘A Dalit Woman in the Land of Goddesses’ by Aruna Gogulamanda (Firstpost)


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