Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Untouchability is just around the corner

Growing in the brotherly arms of Chennai hardly exposed me to the darker side of caste system, occasionally when we visit our threaded friends dad would remind me to have the drink served without the cup touching lips. Before you could confuse community and caste, community is the categorization of caste to make them fall under 4 broad categories so government can help with quotas. Quota discussion is for another day.

Guess what people still managed to find a way to categorize single community into sub-divided once taking various aspects into account, caste being the first. Lets time travel a week back now ask me "What is the difference between your caste and your wife's?", my reply "not much, traditions are pretty much same, sometimes I feel they wrap themselves with too much of rituals and fails in cleanliness, while ours have leisured on both and so no one bothers to judge. They sort of wear two threads, one along hip and other across body/torso while we are content with the first one."

Ask the same question now, first I'd not answer, then I'd send my deepest regret to my dad. Wait why are you flinching? I didn't answer the question yet. Before the answer itself let me walk you thru the week of events; but before that my badass impersonation! Me? I'm a teetotaler, I practice religious celibacy for 2 months in a year, my dad is a widely respected guru, mom is more than perfect gurumaa, I don't lie and I never hold back my opinion (if I try I'll die), I have a great amount of self worthiness and my words are always heard.

(Img. from http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/printedition/news/2014-05-31/untouchability-crime.html)

Today, I wrote the last three lines with doubt, read them twice in mind, once a loud & again and I'm not able to be my badass; sadly I'm trying hard to pull myself up. The planned trip had created many forgettable and in a way unforgivable memories. It all started with my in-law(s) inviting our family to their hometown to showcase their worthiness while we told them about our family trip. Per plan the de-route should not impact the trip or memories as this is going to take only 3 hours of our break time and some freebie puliyotharai.

Seems my wife's paternal grandfather was too involved in worshiping their town's God that he decided to donate his home to the temple as guest house, the decision didn't have any impact in family as 1. They have moved to Chennai, 2. This is going to bring some reputation. That reputation was suppose to fetch us the glamorous reception and grand puliyotharai, I realized that we are not going to get any of those when we discovered the donor's photo (i.e., my wife's grandfather) hidden in the darkest room with all windows locked and doors closed. I was zeroing on the reasons and found that all the photos in light had three lines drawn vertical (clarity of vaishnavite) and the poor fellow's photo had those lines drawn horizontal! Dear God!!

I know the kind of reception and homage that is given to donors of Sabarimala at least during non-makaram period, was wishing something of that sort, poor us we reached late we were made to sit outside main temple, I got irritated, left the compound, meet the untouchables who refrain themselves from entering into the temple and saw my wife detained from entering into the kitchen of temple. Obviously she doesn't bare vertical lines more bad she slept with a guy(me) without torso thread.

More show was to come after the end of boring, irritating, idiotic waste of 2 hours that I proudly say my family managed to bare for the sorry face of my wife. Maybe instinct, my dad was keen on leaving the vertical lines behind ASAP but the lines won't simply fade away. Head priest insisted us to stay back and eat, little that we know of vertical lines we decided to stay. And I got the sight of ignorance stuffed upon school children by head priest wife, that she'd not let any children inside temple and that they should pray outside get the freebie pongal and should vanish away. I had the stupidity to withstand all this for the sorry face. (Wonder what would have happened if I stood out directing every child inside)

I can stand no more, not when the stupids made the greatest guy I know to wait in front of empty banana leaf for his share of food because he was missing the verticals line and thread across torso! I did not know why I stayed there, was it because my son was sleeping? No it should not be, he is sleeping in floor while he deserves way better, Was it because of my wife's sorry face? Validity expired. Was is because my in-laws were reciting the invite for the last 3 months? Impossible. What was the reason? May be I accepted that I'm untouchable, I was broken when tulasi was thrown into my hand, I was twitched when jadari refused to touch my hair.

Probably because bhattar let us close to Srinivas (main deity) and I had hope that we'd be respected (never thought this before, probably he was interesting in rupee notes that we had than us). My soul was crushed when priest wife went on to stay "Mothala namalava sapudanum, apuram eva sapidatum" (Our kind should eat first, let them have latter). Felt like MKG being thrown off train.  None of us could move, none of us could eat, none of us could cry.