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Sangati: A Subaltern Study on Dalit Women

This paper is a study or the analysis of dalit marginalization, discrimination, isolation and humiliation from common tradition of life especially the tragic condition of dalit women in Indian society. Dalit literature is about the sufferings of oppressed class.

Dalit fiction and its literary movement are based on the common ground of social oppression. It is a study of marginal and colonized. Dalit literature is a form of post-colonial literature. The form of dalit literature covers a wide range of literary genres. It is a literature of whole community but of an individual. Many writers, thinkers, social reformers and political figures gave their contribution in the dalit literary movement like B.R. Ambedkar, M.K. Gandhi, Rettaimalai Srinivasan etc.

Bama (born: 1958), also known as Bama Faustina Soosairaj, is a Tamil, Dalit Feminist and novelist. She rose to fame with her autobiographical novel Karukku (1992), which chronicles the joys and sorrows experienced by Dalit Christian women in Tamil Nadu. She subsequently wrote two more novels, Sangati (1994) and Vanmam(2002) along with two collections of short stories: Kusumbukkaran (1996) and Oru Tattvum Erumaiyum (2003).

Born as Faustina Mary Fatima Rani in a village called Puthupatti in Tamil Nadu, South India, Bama is the leading voice of the suppressed class - Dalits. It is her autobiographical work Karukku (tender shoot of the palmyrah tree) that brought her into limelight. She penned only for the deprived class, for she thinks that it is her duty to voice her people's plight to the society. She has penned many stories which include novels likeKarruku, Sangati (Events), and Vanmam (Vendetta), and also short story collections - Kusumbukkaran and Oru Tattavum Erumaiiyum.

If one happens to belong to a disadvantaged community of a society, then one is privileged a lot more than just a writer. Bama as a feminist who holds her grounds deeply rooted into the indigenous soil and Indian traditions which seem to have become more than just contaminated with the ever-prevailing, vitiated and cursed casteism.

Karukku, published much before Sangati, is her autobiography whereas Sangatiis an autobiography of her community which moves from the story of individuals' struggle to the perception of the Paraiyya women, a neighborhood group of friends and relatives and their joined struggle.

In the initial chapters, it's narrated in the first person, then counterpointed by the generalizing comments of the grandmother and other mother figures, and later still, by the author-narrator's reflections. The earlier chapters show the narrator as a young girl of about twelve years of age, but in the last quarter, as a young woman. The reflective voice is that of an adult looking back and meditating deeply upon her experience in the past which calls for practical actions. It has no plot in the normal sense but just some powerful stories of memorable protagonists.

Bama chooses only a woman protagonist for every story in her novel and yet comes up so clearly justified about her choices while doing so. In Sangati,as a child, she is shown questioning the unequal treatment meted out to her at the hands of her own maternal grandmother- Vellaiyamma kizhavi (old lady) in comparison to her brother. She is asked to eat after every male member in the family finishes eating.

The left-over of others are her only feast. In fact, even the quality of food served to the girls is much poorer than the kind of which is served to boys. All the household works like cleaning, cooking, laundry, baby-sitting, etc are done by the girls whereas the boys enjoy playing games or hanging out with their friends in the village. Despite of this, the girls in the village are deprived of good education unlike the boys. The boys are kept free from all sorts of responsibilities that they should take up whereas the girls are over-burdened with numerous endless toilsome everyday activities.

She also raises the issue related to patriarchy in a very heroic manner. Her book- Sangatiteases out the way patriarchy works with Dalit women. As Bama nego-feministicly voices out the grievances of the Paraiyya women, there is, in the first place, the question of economic inequality. Women are presented as wage earners as much as men are, working equally as men as agricultural and building-site labourers, but still earning less than men do, thereby highlighting Socialist-feminism.

Yet the money that men earn is their own to spend as they please, whereas women bear the financial burdens of running the whole family, often even singly. They are constantly vulnerable to a lot of sexual harassment in the world of work. Within their community, the power rests with men as the caste-courts and churches are male-led. Rules for sexual behavior are brow-raisingly different for men and women. Hard labour and economic precariousness lead to a culture of violence, and Bama boldly explores this theme too.

Bama realistically portrays the physical violence like lynching, whipping and canning that the Dalit women face. She writes of the violent treatment of women by fathers, husbands and brothers, and the violent domestic quarrels which are carried on publicly, where rarely women fight back. As a radical feminist, Bama explores the psychological stresses and strains which become a reason for the women's belief in their being possessed by spirits or peys.

Her language is also very different from the other women writers of India as she is more generous with the usage of Dalit Tamil slangs. She addresses the women of the village by using the suffix amma' (mother) with their names. From the names of places, months, festivals, rituals, customs, utensils, ornaments, clothes, edibles, games, etc to the names of occupations, the way of addressing relatives, ghosts, spirits, etc; she unceasingly uses various Tamil words.

The voices of many women speaking to and addressing one another, sharing their everyday experience with each another, sometimes raised in anger or in pain, against their oppressors, are reported exactly. The language is full of explicit sexual references too. Bama smartly suggests that sometimes a sharp tongue and obscene words are women's only way of shaming men and escaping extreme physical violence which give a violent and sexual nature to the language.

It's the result of internalizing of a patriarchy based on sexual dominance and power which rests with men. Bama makes a gigantic linguistic leap in reclaiming the language of the Paraiyya women. She does so more consistently than any of her contemporary writers for narration, argument, comment, and not simply for reported speeches. She bridges the spoken and written styles of Tamil by breaking the rules of written grammar and spelling, and also by eliding various words and joining them differently; demanding a new and different pattern of reading Tamil.

The post-colonial thrust of her book is in its huge criticism of the Indian church. Bama questions the conversion happened in her grandmother's time. Only the Paraiyyas embraced Christianity, persuaded by the missionaries offering them free education whereas the other Dalit communities preferred to remain Hindus. Bama is a critique of casteism within the church and church rules. Here, the narrator's underlying question is whether the community should have converted at all.

This book has a lot in store for the readers not just applaud the traditional feminine' ideals of fear, shyness, simplicity, innocence, modesty but rather, courage, fearlessness, independence and self-respect.[1]

Dalit Women Identity in Bama's Sangati
Exploitation or oppression of weaker by stronger is as old as mankind itself. The Indian history has been a vibrant record of conflict and dialectic between two opposite forces like exploiters and exploited colonizer and colonized, powerful and powerless. Dalit literature is always marked by revolt and a great struggle of lower caste, against the high class people commonly known as savarna.

In India there is a huge campus of religion situated in the society. There are four major caste divisions in India, Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. The lowest caste people came under Shudra's. They are regarded as dalits. These people are suppressed, humiliated, exploited, discriminated and marginalized in every sphere of life. These people are also regarded as untouchables/ Achoot/ Harijan. In Indian society some communities are at the lowest step like: dalits, females, poor, eunuchs, etc. If the woman belongs to dalit community they suffered of two types: first being a woman, second belongs to the lowest community. Therefore it could be said they are doubly oppressed.

Women's movement was started in 1960's.There are a number of writers contributed in the movement like: Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of Rights of Women (1792), Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex (1949),Virginia Woolf's A Room of one's own, Kate Millet's Sexual Politics, Fredrich Engels's The Origin of The Family (1884), John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of women (1869)etc.

These writers speak out the real woman who struggle with social norms, condition, which are extremely propagated by a patriarchal society. Toril Moi explains by saying that the first is a political position the second a matter of biology and the third, a set of culturally defined characteristics. Women's condition was not good in 1960's and 1970's but in 1980's the mood changed. Being a Tamil, dalit Christian women she is able to express emphatically the women's identity. Bama examines caste and gender oppression together. She redefined woman' from the political perspective of a dalit.

According to Frantz Fanon Dalit refers to the class of oppressed is invariably inimical to the autonomy of the oppressed and their culture. In SangatiBama focuses on the double oppression that these females suffer from. While going through all this caste system some important questions arises in the mind:
  • Who are Dalits?
  • What is feminism?
  • What is women's identity Focused in Bama's Sangati?
  • What are the solutions suggested in Bama's Sangati?
  These are some important questions which pressurize us to go through the text.

Sangati exposes that how a man spend money to earn as they please but on the other hand a woman has to fulfill their family responsibilities. The theme of Sangatiis Subjugation to Celebration. Bama's Sangati's a unique Dalit feminist narrative. It is mainly concern with women's movement in India. Literature also contributes in the Dalitmovement and to the women's movement in India especially in Tamilnadu movement of 1960s may be noted as the starting point of feminism. But of course before this there already occurred various struggle against male oppression, the privilege systems and inequality.

As an exponent of Dalit feminism, Bama has found is Karukkuthe right way to explores the sufferings of Dalit women. Sangaticarries an autobiographical element in their narrative, but it is a story of a whole community, not an individual. In Sangati,many strong Dalit women who had the shackles of authority are also focused. The condition of dalits were very bad as they were not allowed to enter in to the temple, and schools for education .This form of discrimination based on identity akin to racism.

To the great extents, writers like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir speak out about the representation of women in literature. In 1980's first feminist criticism became much more electric. It focused upon attacking male version of the world to exploring the nature of female experiences. In the Indian social ladder dalit refers to on the lowest step. Dalit feminism points out repeatedly that Dalit struggle has tended to forget a gender perspective. In dalit society every women live under the double power of caste and patriarchy.

They are doubly oppressed.

Women are considered as the symbol of sex and object of pleasure. A study of dalit feminist writing reveals a tale of endless miseries, inhuman victimization and shocking gender discrimination. Bama, was already, formulating a dalit feminist. She was a Tamil Dalit Christian.

Bama chooses only a woman protagonist for every story in her novel Sangati contributes both to the dalit movement and to the women's movement in Indiaspecially Tamilnadu. Sangatiis a look at a part of those Dalit women who dared to make fun of the class in power that oppressed them and through this, they the courage to revolt. (2005.8.)

Sangati also refers news and the book is full of interconnected events—the everydayhappenings of dalit community. It goes against the notions of traditional novel. The book does not carry any plot in the normal sense, but it is a series of anecdotes. The author herself says the purpose of writing the book in her acknowledgement.

My mind is crowded with many anecdotes: stories not only about the sorrows and tears of dalit women, but also about their lively and rebellious culture, passion about life with vitality, truth, enjoyment and about their hard labour. I wanted to shout out these stories.[2]

Women are presented in Sangatias wage earners as much as men as working as agricultural and building side labours, But earning less than men do. Yet the money that earn in their own to spend as they please, whereas women bear the financial burden of running the family. Women are also constantly victim to sexual harassment and abuse in the world of work.

Bama exposes caste and gender issues both outside and inside the community. Sangati focuses generally on dalit women on various issues such as gender, sexualdiscrimination. According to Bama All women in the world are second class citizens. For dalit women, the problem is grave. Their dalit identity given them a different set of problem.

The Experience a total leak of social status. Even they are not considered dignified human beings.

Sangati encapsulates the author's experience of working within an erogenous andapprised society and the series of several interconnected anecdotes, experiences, news and events as narrated in the book, from an autobiography of a community. Sangati is a portrayal of many trouble witnessing stories as ones writers Paatti said Once you are born a woman can you go and confront a group of four or five men? Should you ever do it?[3]

This narration accommodates more than 35 characters most of whom all are females, but in conventional sense there is no individual who may be tagged as hero or heroine. Bama gives another picture of the community. Although both men and women came after a hard day's work in the field. The men went straight to the bazaar or chavadi to while away their time, coming home only for their meal. But as for the women they return home wash vessels, clean the house, collect water, gather firewood, go to the shops to buy rice and other provision boil some rice, make a kazhambu or a kanji feed husband and children before they eat what is left over and go to bed.[4]

Even they lay down their bodies wracked with pain; they were not allowed to sleep. Whether she dies or survived, she had to finish his business. Women were not allowed to take part on any occasion, the man themselves would dress up and act as women rather than allow us to join in.[5]

The book deals with gender bias faced by dalit women right from the childhood. Girl babies are always considered inferior and taken less care. Dalit girls are hardly enjoying her childhood. They have little time to play as she has to take care of their younger siblings.

Maikkanni is one such girl who has started to work from the day she learns to walk[6].She has to go to work when her mother delivers a baby. When her mother becomes fit Maikkani turn to take care of the new born baby. The life of a dalit girl was tormenting but the life of a grown up dalit woman was worse. The story of narrators cousin Marriamma tells a lot about the sexual assault the abuse faced by dalit women and their inability to stand up against it. Bama is very careful in portraying the picture of a dalit woman. Bama shows gender discrimination meted out to them throughout the lives of dalit women.

Bama realistically portrays the physical violence, like lynching, whipping and canning that dalit woman by fathers, husbands, and brothers. Bama explores the psychological stress and stairs. Her language is also very different from other Indian women writers as she is more generous with the use of Tamil dalit slogans. She addresses the women of village by using suffix Amma' (mother) with their names. The names of places, months, festivals, rituals, customs, utensils, ornaments, clothes, edibles, games etc. to the names of occupations, the way of addressing relatives, ghosts, sprits etc., she unceasingly uses various Tamil words.

The voices of many women speaking and addressing one another, sharing their everyday experience with each other, sometimes expressed in anger or pain. The language is full of explicit sexual references too. Bama bridges the spoken and written styles of Tamil by breaking the rules of written grammar and spellings. Bama says that man can humiliate woman many times, he can disrespect a woman, it is very normal. But in this partial double minded society woman has no right to spoken out anything. This is acceptable to all.

The postcolonial thrust of her book is in its huge criticism of Indian church. Bama feministically voices out the grievances of Paraiya women. Characters like vellaiyamma patti and a small girl and the narrator herself, who learns the story from her grandmother which becomes development of the novel. In novel many strong dalit women had courage to break the shackles of authority. Bama said they live under pressure and get enjoy their fully life.

In India there is prevalence of caste –hierarchy within sub castes of dalit community. In Sangati, the Catholic priests were also gender biased and treated the converted dalit women as inferior. Bama used two modes of narration in his book Sangati:One is confessional and the other, is conventional. And thus she goes deep up to the historical perspective of dalit community.

Bama has personally experienced the marginalized. She sums up their situations in following lines:
Everywhere you look, you see blows and beatings, shame and humiliation... Became we have not been to school or learnt anything, we go about like slaves all our lives, from the day we are born till the day we die, As if we are blind, even though we have eyes.[7]

Sangati examines the difference between women and their different ways in whichthey are subject to apportion and their coping strategies. In the novel the language of dalit women is rich and resourceful giving way to proverbs, folklore and folk songs. Bama as a feminist writer, protests against all forms of oppression and sufferings faced by dalit women in the first half of Sangati. But the later part of Sangatimoves away from the state of depression and frustration.

Instead it presents a positive identity to dalit women focusing their inner strength and vigor. She also attracts our mind towards the education system about dalit community. She gave the example of Pecchiamma, who belongs to Chakkili community, studied only up to fifth class. The girls of that community do not go to school all that much.

Through Sangati,Bama holds the mirror up to the heart of dalit women. She makes an appeal for change and betterment of the life of a dalit women in the variety of fields, including sex and gender discrimination, equal opportunity in work force, education rights etc.

Actually gives the narrator a key function and controls all the incidents and events in a proper way. The narrator becomes both omniscient narrator and a controlling agent of their story, who speaks out historical aspects of dalit community through variety of characters, and it becomes development of novel.

Bama is clear that no one is going to help the hopeless women in her community, it is up to the woman themselves to take their lives into their own hands. Hard labor and precariousness of dalit women leads to a culture of violence, and this runs through thenovel.

Modes of Resistance in Sangati
When they come home after an arduous day's toil, there is only more and unending work. From all sides they have to deal with the pestering of children and the anger and unfair domination of their husbands. Their lives are unceasingly tedious. When they are so frustrated by all this, they are driven to venting their bitterness by quarrelling and shouting.[8]

However, some female characters like Raakkamma and Kaaliamma do fight very strategically against this male domination. Kaaliamma, one of the women characters in Sangati, who fights with her husband Chinnappan and sometimes emerges victorious. If her husband hits her she is ready to hit him back.

In case of Raakkamma, she resists male domination by using very obscene language. Bama describes domestic violence in Paraiya community in their own language which gives a clear picture of the community and lends it a ring of authenticity. Pakkiraj, husband of Raakkamma says: Don't try all that here or I will crush you to pieces with a single stamp. Remember that! Thenhe dragged her by her hair, pushed her down, and kicked her lower belly[9]. Raakkamma got up after kick and wailed out aloud. She shouted obscenities; she scooped out the earth and flung it about. How dare you kick me, you low life? Your hand will get leprosy! How dare you pull my hair? Disgusting man, only fit to drink woman's farts! Instead of drinking toddy every day, why don't you drink your son's urine? Why don't you drink my monthly blood? And she lifted up her sari infront of the entire crowd gathered there. That was when Paakkiraj walked off, still shouting.[10]
This is how women in Paraiya community have to fight back against violent attacks by their husbands. Bama described that even if both men and women came home after a day's hard work, men went straight to the Bazaar or chavadi to pass their time but women have to do house hold work at home from the moment they return home. They have to clean house, vessels, collect firewood and water, go to the market to by rice and other grocery, cook their food, feed their children and husband before they eat and go to sleep.

It was always like this in our streets. Although both men and women came home after a hard day's work in the fields, the men went off straight away to bazaar or the chavadi to while away their time, coming home only for their meal. But as for women, from the minute they returned home they washed vessels, cleaned the house, collected water, gathered firewood, went to the shops to buy rice and other provisions, boiled some rice, made a kuzhambu or a kanji, fed husband and children before they could eat what was left over, and go to bed.[11]

Dalit women work round the clock. Unlike men, at a time they have to do so many jobs. As for the fathers, it never seems to strike them to carry for their children around. They go off immediately to the shops and other meeting places, returning only to eat and to go to sleep. It's the women who have to struggle with childcare and everything else. Yet how many jobs they are able to do simultaneously, spinning about like tops! Even machines can't do as much.[12]

Women are very vulnerable to inequality whereas men are pleasure seekers and hold unequal rights. Bama further reveals: Even though they are male, because they are Dalits, they have to be like dogs with their tails rolled up when they are in the fields, and dealing with their landlords. There is no way they can show their strength in those circumstances. So they show it at home on their wives and children. But then, is it the fate of our women to be tormented both outside their houses and within? [13]

Poverty is one of the major causes of women subjugation and oppression. When Bama asks her Paatti, why only Dalit women are subjected to the exploitation? Paatti, her grandmother replies: They are afraid to touch other women because they have caste power, money everything. And what do we have? Even if a fellow assaults one of us, its difficult to stand up to him or make an enemy of him. Because in the end, we have to go to him for employment. How long can we keep up the fight?

Whatever happens must be according to the pleasure of men folk and their convenience. They can marry out of caste. In the case of women they can marry only within the caste.[14]Nowadays women can take up all sorts of responsibilities. But just as they fooled us and took away our rights within our homes, they have also marginalized us in the world outside. But now, generation by generation we must start thinking for ourselves, taking decisions, and daring to act.

Don't we sharpen and renew a rusted sickle? Just like that, we must sharpen our minds and learn to live with self-respect.[15]

Bama encourages Paraiya community women to rise against this subjugation and exploitation. She says that the women should realize their strength and believe in their independence. They must not let themselves down by the negative thoughts and should not accept the exploitation as their fate. She urges them to be tough both physically and mentally. At the end, Bama is very hopeful and optimistic.

She concludes her story saying:
We should educate boys and girls alike, showing no difference between them as they grow in to adults. We should give our girls the freedom we give our boys. Then there will come a day when men and women live as one, with no difference between them; with equal rights. Then injustices, violence and inequalities will come to an end, and the saying will come true that women can make and women can break. I am hopeful that such a day will come soon.[16]

Sangati: A Narration of Subaltern Consciousness
There is enough work to and there is always much work to do: But that is behind. The worst that you can do is set me back a little more behind. I can't catch up in this world, anyway.[17]
These lines from Robert Frost's poem indicate the feeling of being put at the back on the societal front. It is this feeling of being behind the others that is explored by subaltern writers.
Subalterns refer to those people or groups who are located outside the hegemonic power structure of the society. They are discriminated on various grounds and lack the basic rights and opportunities of the people living in the society.

Bama through her narrator and use of language, challenges the institutional apparatuses that work on the reader's concept of self and social order goes on to produce a subject free of subjection.Sangatiby Bama has been narrated by the author's patti, Vellaiyamma. She tells the narrator that Peys do not have feet and that nothing should be said loud after dark.[18]

Such stories not only reveal the popular superstitions and cultural beliefs of people in a region but also show gender discrimination. Peys are frightened of men. A women becomes its prey easily and especially the ones belonging to Dalit communities.[19]

Bama again uses proverbs to show that even Dalit women are human beings and she uses the proverb which says as if a man sees a terrified dog, he is bound to chase it. If we continue to be frightened, everyone will take advantage of us. If we stand up for ourselves without caring whether we die or survive, they'll creep away with their tails between their legs.[20]

Another proverb says, so long as it is hidden in the Earth, it claims to be big, but when you start peeling it, it's nothing but skin. These fellows are just like that-like onions. They'll shout themselves hoarse, making great claims. They'll forbid us to speak a word. They'll see the like cobras, and say that they alone own everything. But why should we hide our own capabilities.[21]

Bama in her novel uses the autobiographical form of writing and the text emerges as an extension of short stories or narratives and this not only acts as a mode of self assertion and protest for the figures in the narrative but also for Dalit populace at large. Such autobiographies are examples of testimonial genres of literature and acts as a document of social history.

Sangati is not just an autobiography but a personal testimony of an individual in isolation but also of the community on a whole. The narrative focuses the various struggles that these women of the Dalit community and their quest for identity of the self as well as for the world of Dalit women. What again makes this text special is its candid portrayal of the double oppression that these women are subjected to. Untouchablity along with the machismo mark of a women's body as a site for control and oppression.[22]

While narrating the death of her daughter, Paatti says to the narrator, when a man is hitting a woman like that, can a woman go and pull him away? Even if the bystanders had tried to stop him, he would have shouted at all of them She is my wife; I can beat her and even kill her if I want.[23]

Women memoirs do not display laments, resentment or shame for oneself. They do not beg for pity but draw upon internal forces to survive with respect. Though Paatti's daughter had been killed by her son-in-law her narration of the fact does not ask the readers to show any kind of pity for her but on the contrary goes on to show, the anger and her will to survive with self respect.

The focus on minute peculiarities of women's lives and their daily chores brings women to the space of knowledge. While social institutions ignore these women, but their writing stories show the role that they play and the labour that they are destined to perform. The narration and the creating of an identity for women not only is accomplished through the form of the book but also through the language used by the author.

In Sangati, Bama has reclaimed the language of the women of her community. We find multiple female voices speaking to and addressing one another and sharing their events of daily lives. The language is reported exactly and is full of expletives often sexual in nature. An apt example is the abuses hurled at Thaayi by her husband: You common whore, you, any passing loafer will come in support of you, you mother fucker's daughter. You'll go with ten men.[24]

Another one is from a wife towards her husband: Go on, da, kick me, let's see you do it, da! Let's see if you are a real man you only know how to go for a woman's parts. Go and fight with a man who is equal and you'll see. You'll get your balls burnt for your pains.[25]

The text is abundantly filled with such kinds of abuses to one another and it shows the violence and irritability these women of the Dalit community undergo and have in them that they have continued to exist in the mind of these Dalit women as an independent force. Bama analyses the fact that these people of the Dalit community do not get adequate opportunities to speak their minds in the outside world hence they express themselves in this way with one another.

The men tend to vent their suppressed anger on their wives.[26]Moreover Bama goes on to say that: Lack of sleep is what makes women irritable and quarrelsome and the lack of pleasure and fulfilment in sexual relations is what tends to make them use terms of abuse for their body part.[27]

There is another aspect of Dalit women which shows a bright side to their life. It is the vigour and closeness to proverbs, folklore and folk songs and folks and chants which lay before the readers the cultural homogeneity that prevails in these Dalit communities. While on one hand the lives of Dalit women are filled with turmoil but on the other hand, they find time for affairs in life like coming of age, wedding and even death.

The form of language that Bama uses not only aims at creating a distinct identity for the Dalit women among the other members of the society but also different from that of Dalit men. While carving out an identity for the Dalit community, Bama compares Dalit women and children with the upper caste women and children and comes to the conclusion that the marginalised are in a better position than those at the centre. In various descriptions of Dalit life one can trace the concept of racial exclusiveness running all through the text.

In the paraiya community the practice at the time of marriage is to give a cash gift by the groom's family to take the girl and bear the overall expenses of marriage. Hence, Bama as well as other Dalit women point out that this is better than the dowry system prevalent among the members of the upper caste. Although since the colonial times, racial discrimination has continued to exist however in Bama's Sangati we find a positive approach towards dark complexion.

Generally, the notion of a good society calls for a protection for women. But in this case,one can come to a false conclusion that Dalit world is not a good one as they are threatened both my men at home as well as by the landlords in the outside world. To become good in that case means to follow the life pattern of what is considered generally as good and in this case it would be the life of the upper castes. However, in this text we find Bama criticises those Dalit women who tend to copy the women of the upper caste as the colonised Indians tried to ape the colonisers during those times. Bama subscribes to the idea of nativism and discards the idea of imitating the upper castes.

Spivak acknowledges the Epistemic Violence done upon Indian subalterns she suggests that any attempt from outside to ameliorate their condition by granting them collective speech will invariably make them encounter problems like that of a logo centric assumption of a cultural solidarity amongst heterogeneous people and a dependence upon western intellectuals to speak in favour of the subaltern condition rather than allowing them to speak for themselves.[28]

Traditionally, academics wants to know the experience of the suabalterns but not their own explanations of these experiences. Hooks argues that according to the received view in Western knowledge a true explanation can only come from an expertise of the academic.

The subordinated subject,gives up their knowledge for the use of the Western academic. Hooks describes the relationship between the academic and the subaltern: No need to hear the voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself. No need to hear your voice. Only tell me about your pain. I want to know your story. And then I will tell it back to you in a new way. Tell it back to you in such a way that it has become mine, my own. Rewriting you I write myself anew. I am still author, authority. I am still colonizer, the speaking subject and you are now at the centre of my talk.[29]

Bama in Sangati shows the ability of the Dalit women to think and rethink and analyse situations for them. They are independent subjects and are in the process of realising their value in society. A close and critical reading of Sangati shows how Bama has given voice to the Dalit women and in doing so she does not objectify them as was the case during the colonial times. Rather the Dalit women become the subject and the agent who act it out'. [30]

Whether the woman rebukes and leaves her husband, whether she changes her religion, the choice is hers irrespective of the fact whether it's for the better or for the worse. Bama doesnot portray a case of White men saving brown women from brown men'[31]but rather one of brown women saving themselves from brown men'. And in doing so is constructed the consciousness of Dalit women.

  1. SwamiAditi - The-Blogger Accessed on 29thApril 2016.
  2. Bama-Sangati Events Oxford University Press 2005 Pg-9
  3. Bama: Sangati Events Oxford University Press 2005 -Pg.28
  4. Ibid, pg.-59
  5. Ibid, pg.32
  6. Ibid, pg.70
  7. Bama-Sangati Events Oxford University Press 2005
  8. Bama-Sangati Events Oxford University Press 2005 pg-68 Proper format!
  9. Ibid (Pg-70)
  10. Ibid (Pg-70)
  11. Bama-Sangati Events Oxford university Press 2005 Pg-75
  12. Ibid Pg-75
  13. Ibid Pg-75
  14. Ibid Pg-75
  15. Ibid Pg-75
  16. Ibid.
  17. Robert Frost: A servant to servent.
  18. Sanagati by Bama OUP (2005) Pg-86
  19. Ibid Pg-86
  20. Ibid Pg-86
  21. Ibid Pg-86
  22. Ibid Pg-87
  23. Ibid Pg-88
  24. Sangati by Bama OUP (2005) Pg-89
  25. Ibid Pg-89
  26. Ibid Pg-89
  27. Ibid Pg-89
  28. Spivak, Can the Subalterns Speak? (1988)
  29. Hooks, Subaltern Studies(1990)
  30. Spivak (1988)
  31. ibid
Written By: Mr. Atish Chakraborty-1st year Law student at AMITY Law School, AMITY University, Kolkata. I would also like to extend my gratitude to my Professor Dr. Atreya Banerjee & Prof. Shayeri Roy for their valuable insights and guidance in writing this article. 

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