Prabira-Sethy

An encounter of my dreams shut all doors for Casteism…

 What will you feel when you are not allowed to sit or play with the other kids while they alienate you? Because that’s what they have been taught.When you have had horrendous struggles in the past, you are destined to have a beautiful future.This actually happened to me and the reason was casteism.:

I had horrendous struggles in the past:

 I was Born in a very poor family, my father was a server to an upper caste family and mother did our ancestral work of washing. I had four more siblings, we were very young and it was hard for my parents to provide all necessities of life to every child. So, we as kids helped our parents in farming to get an extra source of income. The sustenance was hard due to weak economic conditions in the family. But, it was made harder and the reason was Casteism.

We belonged to the lowest in the ladder of Hindu Varnashrama system. It was none of our faults but still, we were being punished. As a child, how you would have felt when you see your parents being humiliated every second by someone? What will you feel when you are not allowed to sit or play with the other kids while they alienate you? Because that’s what they have been taught.

When you start working and when you are able to walk properly on your own feet, you will have no account of when your childhood started.

I was raised in a situation where all seven members of my family, aged five to fifty, worked to earn food. And most of the times we were called to eat the leftovers in memorial ceremonies.

My childhood journey:

As a kid when I saw things happening in an already set up system, I accepted it as working of the world. I never tried reasoning and questioning to whatever was being done to us. I thought we were not the only ones being ill-treated. There are other people who are facing the same situations. I never tried asking why, until one day (sighs).

Let me relate an incident here, there was just one well located in the middle of our village. After every woman of the upper caste family filled their vessels with water, my mother went to fill hers. Suddenly a man from behind her back comes and pushes her so hard on the ground, and starts abusing her. Startled with what just happened she gets up with bleeding arms and asks about what he was so angry for? Without giving any strong reasons he kept abusing her. She had no choice but to walk back home without water.

I was a kid. Just in the period of my utmost innocence, I got horrified by seeing my mother’s arm bleeding. “Maa” was hurt and that hurt her kid too. I clutched on to her saree, hugged her tightly and started weeping. That was my first encounter with the cruel behavior of this society. But this wasn’t the end, there was more to be faced.

It was New Year’s Eve, and we all wanted that day to be special like everybody does. Like all other families, my mother decided to cook something special, and she asked me to go and buy some ghee from the shop in the next gali. I was a kid and was excited about the delicious food which was going to be cooked. I rushed to the shop and excitedly asked the shopkeeper “भैया घी दीजियेगा ”. He turned around just for me to see a grin on his face (I realized he was an upper caste). Before I could pick up my Jhola (bag) from the counter, he started abusing me. And said, “कभी ज़िन्दगी में घी देखा भी है तुम लोगो ने”? I was embarrassed and hurt, people were looking at me, some with generosity and some with disgust. I rushed back to my home, tried to walk as fast as I could, just to disappear from their sights. But still, I could hear the shopkeeper repeating the same line with slangs.

I wanted to run away from all the humiliation I was facing every day. I wanted to hide somewhere from the disappointment my family was doomed into.

when my teenage started:

Facing all of this, I reached my teenage. I wanted to work somewhere apart from the help that I did, helping my father with farming. There was an upper caste family who was paying 20 paise per bucket to irrigate their land. I thought that this was a nice opportunity to earn better. I started pouring water filled buckets, one after another and then another, I poured almost 25 buckets of water till they asked me to stop. In that little time, I stopped to catch my breath. Then I started calculating how much money I am supposed to get. And then the Malik as we called him, came up and told me to come some other day. I told him I needed the money to buy food for today.

He was stunned by my confident reply, and by my courage to rebut his decision. He thought I was too audacious as a lower caste teenage boy, and started abusing me. He turned a small discontentment into an argument, then a fight and then in a matter concerning everyone in the village. I knew that no one is going to oppose him I had no option but to come back empty handed.

I was disappointed but I witnessed my brother studying hard irrespective of all the odds, he wanted to pursue his education. I was astonished by his will power! I asked him how he was so considerate about education. What made him study even with a stomach barely filled? He then answered to me saying,

Education is the only weapon we have to change the world. Living life doesn’t merely means breathing, it means to have an enlightened mind and illuminated soul!

His words changed my perspective towards my life, now rather focusing on problems I was in a quest for solutions. I started studying hard. I completed my schooling in an Oriya medium. I was working as a daily wage labourer to earn and save some money for my admission in the college.

when I Started Working Hard:

As I took my admission in college I barely knew Hindi and not even a single word of English, challenges grew up for me. I had to choose between my subjects in English medium and Hindi medium. I had no knowledge of English. I somehow passed the subject with 30 marks in my school. So English was no option. But my roommate inspired and motivated me to work hard with English as he knew there was very less study material published in Hindi. I decided to take up this challenge and started working hard but had no books to study. In a stream where you are required to study 10 books for one topic, I had no books at all! I asked for a book from my friend and had that one book only to study. I attended every lecture and studied as much as I could.

I topped my class. It was a surprise to everybody but a motivation to me, and a happiness for my family.

We were four roommates staying in one small room with faded paint and had only Daal Chaawal to eat. I started preparing for my M.Phil. entrance. I got through the written examination but had no money to go for the interview, so I had to miss it. I started staying with a friend in his hostel room, he used to lend me twenty rupees to buy coupons so that I could eat my lunch.

With many difficulties from being discriminated in the university to sleeping on the hostel roof n empty stomach. I kept working hard and cleared JRF! Whatever money I received from that, I cleared my piled up debts and took admission in Jawahar Lal University. With just two pairs of shirts and pants, I continued my studies. Facing all the discomforts and humiliation with barely knowing any language I somehow managed the survival. And, did splendidly well in my educational career.

Finally I Proved Myself:

Now I am working as an Ad-hoc professor at the University of Delhi. You may think maybe this is not what an achievement is called. But just pause for a moment and think, a student who has slept on the roof of a university now teaches in a university. “If it isn´t great, it isn’t less either”.

prabira-sethy

I have accepted my past because coming from a background like mine made me stronger in facing the discriminative nature of people. This has turned me sensitive towards the young minds of youth!

Here Is An Info Graphic That Explains Hindu Cast System : 

Image result for INFOGRAPHIC ABOUT CASTEISM IN INDIA

I Have Learned Three Lessons From My Past:

first, keep working. Second, if anything costs your “self-respect”, die but do not beg for it. Third, even when you have nothing, you can achieve everything with hard work. So summing up everything I would say “it was full of sufferings but enriched with learning”.

So whenever you feel like giving up, remember to make your future spotless, you will always have to go through the mud”

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