THE CELEBRATED MARATHI DALIT POET Namdeo Dhasal recalls the time he and his young friends committed the crime of swimming in a well whose water they, as untouchables, were forbidden to ‘pollute’. In his essay ‘Namdeo’s Mumbai’, the poet and critic Dilip Chitre writes that Dhasal remembers how he and the other boys were mercilessly stoned by the villagers for the crime. To be denied water is to be denied life. So when Dalit writers say their literature is about life, they are talking about a bitter and humiliating struggle for existence. How then are they to feel belonging for this land and its gods?
LS Rokade writes in his poem ‘To Be or Not to be Born’,
I spit on this great civilisation
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