23 November, 2020

Look Back In Languor

A restrained telling of atrocities against Dalits, but sans rage, self-pity or radical rhetoric

Look Back In Languor
Let me declare an interest at the outset. I read Narendra Jadhav’s book in the original Marathi nearly a decade ago. It captivated me thoroughly for here was a story of a man who had done remarkably well in life in the face of the horrendous odds that confront every benighted Dalit citizen of our Republic. Determined to see that it reached out to a wider readership, I played a bit part to ensure its publication, first in French, then in English.

Another reason explained my enthusiasm for the book: passage after passage stirred memories of my own past. I spent my childhood and adolescent years surrounded by Mahars, members of Jadhav’s community, though they preferred to be known then as neo-Buddhists. I was familiar with their coarse food, their rough-hewn Marathi, their colourful expletives and rites of passage, as well as their foibles which, as you can well imagine, both amused and outraged the twice-born.

I got to know about the humiliations the Mahars had suffered at the hands of caste Hindu society, especially in the countryside where they were treated worse...



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