Nikhil Sanjay-Rekha Adsule
To pull Dead carcasses,
Started to write
They wrote poems
Of their lives.
– Yogesh Maitreya, ‘The Bridge of Migration’
The above lines by the poet-writer Yogesh Maitreya, themselves mark an assertion of a new voice in the era of populist and post-truth literature. In this republic of caste where the neo-liberal publishers are promoting Tharoor’s “Why I am a Hindu” and K.R Meera’s elitist, parochial feminism denouncing Dalits and Dalit aesthetics, here comes Yogesh’s ‘Flowers on the grave of caste’ , standing apart from the populist and gau-herd mentality of savarna writers whose orthodox piety is structured, graded and lacks empathy, akin to Atticus Finch of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (1960).
Yogesh shall not entertain you with Brahmanical offerings that shall sound pleasing to hear and feel, he shall attack this hierarchical system at point-blank rang. He shall take you on a journey of the unexplored Dalit world and introduce you to the Dalit view in the realm of gender, caste and class. He shall mock the pseudo-Marxists, discover the walls of caste barriers in access to basic necessities, talk about Dalit visions of emancipation via access to education, and the chaos and confusions in the life of Dalits. But one thing is certain: that he shall make you restless! His characters don’t come with Brahmanical names but from a strong counter-culture–Gautam, Ashoka, Nagraj–and they are the heroes who take forward their journey with their identities which are looked down upon by Manuvadis. They are killed, succumb to institutional murder. They are suppressed by the structural violence of the Leviathan State, let down by “Ram Rajya” i.e., welfare state working on the whims and fancies of the rich and powerful and those favoured by religion.
Despite all the socio-economic, political and cultural murders of the Dalits, the very passion that Babasaheb stood for to create an egalitarian utopia is a common thread that runs through all the central characters. They lose badly, they fail miserably in love, are defeated by circumstances, succumb to united Bharat committing atrocities on Dalits! But what marks them all is that they still have hope in the basic ideal of revolutionary humanism, fraternity between the people, and trust in their quest for justice and equality, united by faith in non-violence and the words of Babasaheb i.e., Educate, Organise and Agitate!
To speak more about the storyline shall isn’t productive: as the characters ought to be experienced rather than narrated here. But one thing is for sure: every word takes forth the argument of Jacques Ellul that ‘Anyone wishing to save humanity today must, first of all, save the word’. This emanates from every word of the text! The words inspire a way out from the Hobbesian nature of the State of whose nature is normalisation of violence on the marginalised class of society. The characters fight against the dictum of Charles Taylor i.e., ‘Reduced Mode of Being’ and still walk to the era of ‘anicca’ (impermanence) in the guiding light of the Buddha i.e., Navayana, shown by Bodhisattva Dr. Ambedkar. This text deserves to be read and discussed in this era of post-truth and neo-peshwai, if the republic of violence still wants to reclaim ‘Humanity’!
(‘Flowers on the grave of caste’ by Yogesh Maitreya, from Panther’s Paw Publications, can be purchased by contacting him on 9987133931)