An Untouchable’s Complaint

We shall not go begging like the Brahmin
We shall not wield sticks like the Thakurs
We shall not hold scales like the Sahu
We shall not graze cows like the Ahir

Day and night we suffer
We will take our plea to the Sahib
Even gods consider not our sorrows
Or how long we have been suffering
We shall go to the court of the padre
We shall apostatise and become English
Hey Ram! Leaving religion is so hard
How shameful to change religion!

 

You shattered the pillar and saved Prahlad
Rescued the Elephant King from the jaws of the Crocodile
Duryodhan’s brother was pulling it off
You appeared and extended the end of the sari
You killed Ravan and protected Vibhishan
On the little finger, you lifted the mountain
Where are you sleeping now and not hearing us
Are you scared too of a Dom’s touch?

Day and night we labour
To receive two rupees a month
The landlord sleeps cosily in his house
While we plough the farm to earn from it
The rulers descend with a splendid retinue
They’d grab us now to work as bonded labour
With sealed lips we carry on working
All this we will report to the government

We shall not go begging like the Brahmin
We shall not wield sticks like the Thakurs
We shall not hold scales like the Sahu
We shall not graze cows like the Ahir
We shall not write poetry like a Bhat
We shall not wear turban and go to courts
We shall earn by the sweat of our brow
At home we will share and eat with all

Our body is made of flesh and bones
And so is a Brahmin’s
But he is worshipped in every home
And the whole land has become his jajmani
We are forbidden from going near the well
If we do, we are whipped, have our limbs broken
Why should we be harassed so much?

Translation: Ashish Alexander

This poem was first published in the September 1914 edition of ‘Saraswati’ edited by Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi.

Published in the November 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine


Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +917827427311, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

 

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