Day and night we are suffering,
We will share our grief with the ruler.
Even god is not listening to our problems
Don’t know how long will we suffer.
We go to churchman’s court and
Become English after conversion.
Oh lord, conversion doesn’t work
How to show our face, we impious.
Broke the pillar and saved Prahlada,
Rescued Gajraj from the clutches of Graha.
Where Duryodhna’s brother pulled Sari,
Appeared there and provided clothing.
Killed Ravan and supported Vibhishna,
Raised the mountain on finger tip.
Don’t know where, now you sleep,
You have become heedless to our pain.
It appears you dislike our contact
As you know that we are Dom.
We do labor day and night,
And earn two rupees for that.
Thakurs have comfort sleep at their home,
We plough fields then pay we get.
The ruler’s battalion is deployed and
We get caught to serve them unpaid.
Such job we do with closed mouth,
To the government, this will be said.
We won’t beg like Brahmin begs
Won’t stir lathi like Thakur stirs
Won’t cheat like Sahu does while measuring
Won’t steal cow like Ahir gets away with
Won’t write poems like a bard
Won’t go to Court wearing turban
We’ll shed sweat to live our life,
Together at home we share our food.
Our body is made of flesh and bone,
Similar body the Brahmin has got.
He is worshipped in every house,
As the whole region has become his host.
We do not go close to well,
We get drinking water from mud.
One of the early poems on Dalits was composed by Heera Dom. It was titled ‘Achhut Kee Shikayat’ (Untouchable’s Complaint). The poem was written in Bhojpuri language. It got published in ‘Saraswati’ in the year 1914. This is my translation of the poem. The Bhojpuri text can be accessed here.