The truth that dares to speak.

‘If you were to knock on the words of pain, you would hear the sound of truth . . .if you were to dig into them, you would find blood streaking out.’

This is how B. Kesharshivam describes the quintessential experiences of the life of a dalit. In the sixty years after independence, many believe that much has changed for dalits. The author himself, born and raised in poverty in the dalit moholla of Kalol in north Gujarat, passed the Gujarat Public Service Examinations to become a mamlatdar, a revenue officer, and finally a Class 1 officer who held many significant postings including comptroller of the household to the governor of Gujarat. Yet as he says, ‘At every step in life I was made aware of being a dalit.’

Translated from the Gujarati original, Purnasatya, by Gita Chaudhuri, this is the first autobiography of a dalit in Gujarati. Beginning with his life as a child who plays in the dust of the bone meal factory, where he later works, going on to labour with his parents in the ‘cotter mill’, the book presents a non-sentimental account of a childhood where friendships exist, sometimes across castes, and discrimination and abuse are constants. The second part of his story relates to his working life, his struggles on behalf of the dalits and the tribal populations against a backdrop of continuous discrimination. As the author questions accepted norms and verities, he forces readers to confront themselves.

THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH: A Dalit’s Life, is full of insight, egotistical, bitter and yet never defeated. From Samya, Kolkata.

In our Dalit Studies and Biography sections. ISBN 978-81-85604-87-9, Rs 350.

And from Stree, Samya's sister publisher, comes HER STORY, OUR STORY and ON THE SWING, translations of the work of Malatibai Bedekar who wrote under the pseudonym of
Vibhavari Shirurkar.

When published in the 1930's Pune was outraged. ‘The writer of indecent, obscene works such as Kalyanche Nishwas and especially Hindolyavar [On the Swing] must be killed.’ The author’s effigy was burnt on the streets... Vibhavari Shirurkar had bravely written on the complex yearnings of young girls, touching upon their sexuality and their tentative steps to an inchoate self-hood, and in the novella, of an abandoned wife’s courage in forming a new relationship. This outraged middle class respectability.

In the 1976 edition of Kalyanche Nishwas (from Popular Prakashan, Mumbai), the author wrote a note on the public reaction to these two works when first published, which has also been included in this volume. She declared that her portrayal of young working women being financially exploited by their fathers, of their being drawn towards devious men despite themselves, or their severe stress as widows or abandoned wives, was a diluted version; the reality was much worse.

These two fictional works, translated into English from the original Marathi for the first time, and accompanied by a critical note, written in 1933, by the sociologist and Marathi encyclopaedist S. V. Ketkar, are like a slice of social history. Together, Her Story, Our Story and On the Swing speak about women who loved and lost, despaired, doubted the choices they made, yet made them nevertheless.

In our Gender and Translation sections. ISBN 978-81-85604-94-7 Rs 275.

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