Things I did not understand/was not familiar with-
- Mahua Tree- A tree often used for it’s leaves where food can be kept or offerings can be offered before the gods or people of power.
- Sarai- a term for a guesthouse, or a restaurant where people can come and stay for the night and eat.
- Chudel- the word can be best translated as meaning a female witch, or a female ghost. It is seen as a grave insult and dehumanizes the person it is being spoken to.
In this heartbreaking short story, the Dalits, or those of the lower class are portrayed as humans without rights, and often time, they are not considered to be human at all. The way they are treated, and the way the Brahmins react to them is more reminiscent of what people do when they encounter animals or garbage. Quite literally, the dalits are not seen as people, and the caste system ensures that they can be freely exploited, mistreated, and then discarded by those in positions of power i.e Brahmins. Their suffering is seen as mindless and their worth in the society seems to amount to nothing next to the Brahmins who represent the epitome of the hierarchical structure of the caste system.
But as much as we may condone the Indian society for this behavior, as this is something that is still going on in many villages and regions to this day, it is also a practice that the Indian society is founded on. It is deep and complex in the fact that there is no concrete solution to the problem. It is often difficult to address as people who are opposed to this change are more often than not in the higher echelons of society or elders who are deeply respected and whose words are considered to be law. The fact that makes this issue even more complicated is the practices’ connection to religion. This treatment, although grotesque and unfair to our eyes, forms the cornerstone of Hinduism, and hence, Indian culture. To change this would be to challenge decades and centuries of practices and widely held beliefs and traditions, which in and of itself, can be contradictory to the universal declaration of human rights that we are striving to protect.
However, change is happening. If it’s not a direct radical change, it’s a gradual, steady change that is resulting in the region through education and greater awareness of practices and a broader mindset of the entire world. Sure, the issue is complex and multifaceted, but the agents of change are the very people who have dealt with this from an early age, and no matter how it is looked at- progress is happening. Equality and justice are more prevalent than ever before in the Indian society.
The wishes and desires of many are finally taking shape. Fruition is only a stepping stone away.