Not translated. Written originally in the English by the author, a native Konkani speaker.
Caste, I never understood it
I thought I wasn’t part of it
I thought it never affected me
I thought I was casteless.
In the class they told us
Caste was hindrance to equality
I hated caste
but now when I look back,
low caste were lowered
in the lectures of the teachers
(a position which I’m trying to thread cautiously)
through the re-reading of the
old texts, without hint of the present.
They told us the caste pyramid
could be broken and reformed into a circle
when everybody would be equal
when everybody would be same.
Same! The word haunts me now
as I reflect back
and live in the present
Same? What does being same
as in similar means?
I understand now …
it got deeper implications
Who will become like whom?
Who will imitate whom?
In the quest of
becoming similar, same, equal?
(or did I confuse the words and misunderstood it?)
(But in the end this is what I understood!)
Why do I deny my caste?
Why do I say I don’t?
believe in caste?
My experiences I have understood
only in terms of rural-urban,
rich- poor and healthy- unhealthy.
But caste? It didn’t exist in my world
I am trying to make sense of it only now
it eluded my curiosity for long
and when I came to know about my caste
the next thing that I knew was
“It is low, lowest in the Varna”
And being a Shudra!
(I’m finally writing on this!)
Shudra! I only studied in books
Shudra or in Goa, the Sudir
came from the feet
were the lowest in the varna I knew
but when I came to know
that I am a shudra
I didn’t know what it meant …
what implications it had for me.
Why do I want something low
when all my life I held my head up
and lived without it
why would I put myself
knowingly down when I was already
fighting a battle of being a
rural, middle class, unhealthy woman?
But no! I was fooled
Fooled to believe that there
is fault in caste- in my caste
and there is urgent need
to believe that we
all are equal
or on the path to equality.
They shut my mouth up
when I was about to declare
my caste to the class
And I wondered why? Is it so bad?
By believing that caste is bad
inequality was swept under the carpet
on which I stumbled now and then.
Life is not as simple as
the theories that I study
My experiences, my positions
are shaped by structures
which are beyond my comprehension
and it is more frightening to know
that I existed into it
without having any knowledge of it
and what havoc it played with me!
Under the guise of equality
we embraced their notions
and fractured ours!
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