11 May, 2021

'Having Lived On Watery Gruel, School For The First Time Meant Three Meals'

Gaddar turned 13 in 1952

'Having Lived On Watery Gruel, School For The First Time Meant Three Meals'
Thirteen was a turning point in my life. That year, a boy’s hostel opened in my village, Toopran, in Medak district. But in order to get the government to sanction it, the school needed at least four boys from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. I was an obvious choice, being one of the first two boys from among the 750 Dalit families in the village to join school. My father was an Ambedkarite, and although he was too busy in his social activities to look after the family, he insisted that all six of us go to school. He was a mason and lived in Aurangabad. It wasn’t easy because my mother, a farm hand, couldn’t earn enough to feed us all. So from the time I can remember, she roused me at daybreak. My job was to take a basket and walk down the village, collecting cowdung. Then I scrubbed my teeth with sand, bathed in the village tank, ran home, collected my books and ran to school. After school, I got to work again. On weekends and holidays, I went to work with her in the fields. But still I was probably the brightest boy in my school, thanks to...
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