Paper iii- A Dalit Feminist Reading of “Select Tamil literature
Question 9. The voice of Dalit woman as heard in Karukku, Sangati and Vanmam
Faustina Mary alias Bama was born in to a converted Christian family in 1958 at Puthupetty near Madurai. She was a constant witness to the hardships the Dalits especially the Paraiyas had to face. After her post graduation she decided to become a nun so as to be of service to the down trodden. While working as a teacher in a Christian convent school she realized that Dalits, even after conversion, were being discriminated. She gave up her holy robes and decided to concentrate on the upliftment of the marginalized. Through her literary works she reveals how caste informs and runs through all aspects of life. Bama is one of the first Dalit women writers to be widely recognized and translated. She is also regarded as the first black literary writer in Tamil literature.
Bama’s ‘Karukku’ was published in 1992, ‘Sangati’ in 1994 and ‘Vanmam’ in 2000. “Sangati” was originally written in Tamil in the year 1994 and it was translated into English by Lakshmi Holmstrom. If in ‘Karukku’ the tension is between the self and the community, ‘Sangati’, voices the community’s identity. The word Sangati means events, and thus the novel through individual stories, anecdotes, and memories portrays the events that take place in the life of the women in Paraiya community. The novel also reveals how the Paraiya women are doubly oppressed. Women are presented as wage earners and it is up on them that the burden of running the family falls. The men on the other hand spend the money they earn as they please. In addition the women are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and harassment. The novel thus creates a Dalit feminist perspective.
The economic precariousness of Dalit women leads to a culture of violence, and this is a theme that runs through the book: the terrible violence and abuse of women by their fathers and husbands, and sometimes even...