Kalyani Thakur

Translated from Bangla by Jaydeep Sarangi

Poem number: 33

My grandfather was prohibited

From  stepping into the tol premises.

My father became literate

Using palm leaf and ink of charcoal

After a long  struggle.

My mother visited Durga bari

With cowdung on her left hand

To  paste the place where she was standing.

Oh! God! Cowdung is holier

Than the touch of a dalit!

My genteel colleagues enjoy

Using  abusive terms—

Chamar, Charal and dom—daily!

They have forgotten

That these terms are names

of different castes and communities.

With all these

I’ll have to remember

There is no dalit in Bengal!

Dalits are everywhere in the world


Caste discrimination exists everywhere


They  throttle our throat,

Train us to say--

We are all equal, no caste stratification here.

By trickery

They  are taking away

Provision s for  reservation  after one generation.

They force us and say,

“If you claim reservations in the private sector

We shall erase your father’s name from your memory.


We need no more.

We’ve got everything.”



tol : Sanskrit primary school

Durga bari: A house where an idol of Goddess Durga  is installed.

Chamar, Charal and dom : Three professions considered outcastes in different parts of India.

This poem is taken from Thakur’s collection, Chandalinir Kobita (2011).

Kalyani Thakur © 2014

Translation: Jaydeep Sarangi © 2014