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Akkarmashi, an excerpt

June 3rd, 2011 by anuradha

…….. from author's note.

My mother is an untouchable, while my father is a high caste from one of the privileged classes of India. Mother lives in a hut, father lives in a mansion. Father is a landlord; mother, landless. I am akkarmashi  (half-caste). I am condemned, branded illegitimate. 

I regarded the immorality of my father and mother as a metaphor for rape. My father had privileges by virtue of his birth granted to him by the caste system. His relationship with my mother was respected by society, whereas my mother is untouchable and poor. Had she been born into the high caste or were she rich, would she have submitted to his appropriation of her? It is through the Dalit movement and Dalit literature that I understood that my mother was not an adulteress but a victim of a social system. I grow restless whenever I read about a rape in the newspaper. A violation anywhere in the country, I feel, is a violation of my mother.

I have put in words the life I have lived as an untouchable, as a half caste, and as an impoverished man. There is a Patil in every village who is also a landowner. He invariably has a whore. I have written this so that readers will learn the woes of the son of a whore. High-caste people look upon my community as untouchable, while my own community humiliated me, calling me 'akkarmashi'. This humiliation was like being stabbed over and over again. [….] 

……… The Outcaste

[….] Dada was the first son of the first wife of Dastagir Jamadar. Dada was married to a woman from Barhanpur, but they were childless, so his wife deserted him. Since then Dada has been living with Santamai. He has groomed me with great affection, as if I were his own child. Neither his religion nor my caste was a hinderance to us. Is it man who is a hinderance to religion or is it the other way around? Is the premise of religion greater than man's? Is religion made for man or man made for religion? Does man cause religion to degenerate, or is it religion that degenerates man? Can't man exist without religion and caste?


[…] Once, we had a guest and no money to pay even for his tea. Kashinath, the tea-stall owner was away. So we couldn't ask for credit. Old man Ghenappa who looked after the tea-stall in Kashinath's absence would not give us credit. We were in a fix and felt helpless. I sat in a corner like a barren hen trying to hatch an egg. Dada was waiting for a bus. Santamai's face looked like a cave discovered during excavation, while the guest sat like a refugee.


Source: The Outcaste Akkarmashi Sharankumar Limbale. Translated from Marathi by Santosh Bhoomkar 


Note: Sharankumar Limbale is the Regional Director (Pune Division) of the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik. A well-known Dalit activist, writer, editor, and critic, he is the author of 24 books. 

Santosh Bhoomkar (Translator) Reader and Head, Department of English,and In-charge, Postgraduate Faculty of Arts, Shri Saraswati Bhuwan Arts and Commerce College, Aurangabad.


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