How caste cast his wards away from society

How caste cast his wards away from society

Noted Tamil author and poet Perumal Murugan recounted various experiences of casteism captured by his students in his Tamil book 'Saathiyum Naanum' (Caste and Me), while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival 2017.

Murugan, who was a professor of Tamil at the Government Arts College in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, spoke in Tamil.

The book is a collection of 32 articles by his students who had borne the brunt of casteism. The students have narrated their experiences in the form of articles that highlight various instances of bias.

Murugan says he and his students would meet every month as part of Koodu, his organisation. For the 500th meeting, he asked the students to pen essays based on the caste-based discrimination they had encountered. The essays took the shape of a book.

The book has been translated into English by Ambai, an eminent Tamil author. The English book will be called 'Black Coffee in a Coconut Shell'

Murugan also recounted personal experiences of casteism, when he narrated how his mother was casteist. He said as his father ran a soda store which was frequented by people from all communities, he believed his mother had a broad outlook.

He narrated that in the last days of her life, his mother suffered from Parkinson's disease. He arranged for a young girl from the Dalit community to take care of her. She, however, repelled the girl and did not like being touched by or taken care of by her.

His mother had also strongly disapproved of Murugan marrying a girl from another caste and had not attended his wedding, fearing the society. But later, his mother took a liking to her after getting to know her better.

Murugan was also worried about the place where she will be buried after her death as they lived at the border of two villages and the place where one was buried depended on his or her caste.

However, an electrical crematorium that was set up in their place put an end to her concern. After her death, he dispersed the ashes in the wind, believing they would travel to every part of the world.

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