Translator’s Note: Narendra Kumar Bhoi
The term chandala in the title of the poem can be translated into untouchables or the Dalits, who stand outside the varnashrama dharma under the Hindu religion. Dalits have strategically but inhumanly been kept outside the mainstream line for centuries, depriving them of their basic rights. They had no socioeconomic status as human beings and were living worse than animals. Though legally, the practice of untouchability has been abrogated and declared unconstitutional, with proper constitutional provisions to safeguard their rights, untouchability has still been in force in the nooks and corners of the country. The Dalits got their basic rights to education and freedom under the leadership of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the messiah of the Dalits and other depressed classes of India, only after India got its independence. This is the backdrop of this poem. The poet as a protagonist boldly interrogates the hypocrisy and casteist notoriety of the so-called high caste people who, over the centuries, have been appropriating the caste system in India that dehumanises a large chunk of people. The poem also unveils the poisonous felony of the high-caste Hindus who act craftily as friends and benefactors of the Dalits. I picked up this piece to translate as it carries a tone of resistance. This poem will appear in Fury Species, a forthcoming anthology that I translated.