👀 Roots. Realities.
#395 | Change your mind. Change the world.
Almost all my fellow writers of Thing have addressed the elephant in the Raam. Sorry, no, temple in the room, I mean elephant in the room. So, I'm going to skip that and give you a short story instead.
I am a city kid by fate. My Baba's decision to trade rural tranquillity for the hustle and bustle of a tier II city opened doors to a life of possibilities for me, his granddaughter. My Baba comes from a tiny village in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, in a village so small you could almost miss it. Our visits, though frequent, were always brief, a few hours at most. The "infrastructure" didn't meet the standards of city living. The only sanitation we had access to were dry toilets, not the modern, eco-friendly ones you use at concerts and festivals, but the archaic, inhumane ones. The ones that were cleaned by people.
As "development" found the people and the village, so did it come to the houses in the village - pukka houses and proper toilets. But manual scavenging never really went away; the discrimination against folks who clean(ed) them still runs rampant. I witnessed the othering at my cousin's wedding in 2022. Same reception hall, same food, an invisible boundary dividing everyone into "us" and "others".
So many of us born and raised in the relative modernity and affluence of urban centres genuinely believe caste doesn't exist, so cocooned from reality by our privilege. If you are one of the caste blind or know someone who is, caste discrimination is real; it is not a thing of the past or limited to rural, underdeveloped areas of our nation.
As Will Mcavoy in ‘The Newsroom’ said, "the first step in solving a problem is recognising there is one”, and denying its existence only delays its rectification. So change a mind - yours or someone else's. That's my only wish.
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