Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
It is a shame that a book of nastiest caste hatred has obtained the best book in Oriya language award from India’s National Academy of Letters for 2011.
Before proceeding further, we will look at certain words proudly used in the book that has been awarded with the coveted prize.
There are certain words in Oriya language which cannot be expressed in any single word in English. One of such words is SHALA. Generally it means “wife’s brother”. But it has slang use. And, mostly it is used in slang. When in anger one calls another as SHALA, the word becomes abusive and obnoxious. It means, “ one whose sister is fucked”. Use of this word is profuse in this sense only.
HADI is another word that indicates the lowest of the low caste people whom the caste-supremacists have equated with scavengers by forcing them to clean their ordure, carry their family filths away, remove carcasses from their yards or neighborhood. Members of this HADI caste are also called HEDAKHIA, because, forced into the lowest class, debarred by the caste-supremacists from acquiring any property, they use to thrive on carcasses of dead cattle. Hence, HEDAKHIA means carcass-eater.
KANDARA is another untouchable caste used by upper-caste Hindus for catching fish for them from ponds and rivers and guarding their properties from thieves and trespassers as a compulsory duty ensuring thereby absence of the males of this caste from their homes which helps upper-caste masters have pastime. Their wives are known as KANDURUNI.
For keeping these people subdued and submissive for ever, they are branded as “untouchable” publicly.
Time has changed and the practice is no more in vogue. But the words have not lost their meaning.
Shockingly, the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Akademi of Letters, has given legitimacy to use of these obnoxious words against caste disadvantaged communities by giving its 2011 award for the best literary work in Oriya to a book – unknown to people of Orissa so far – captioned ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ where the above mentioned derogatory words are used sans qualm to abuse the socially exploited untouchable people.
Look at a few instances.
In the preceding page i.e. page 231, it is written, “CHUP SHALA. MUN TO SATA JANMARA NANA NUHAN RE SHALARA SHALA. MO BAPA KEBE MANA KARI NATHIBA TO MA KANDURUNI GHARARA KABATA KILIBAKU. SHALA HEDAKHIA”. (Shut up you, whose sister I fuck. Your sister is fucked by one whose sister I fuck, I am never your brother in even seven births. My father would never have wanted to fuck your mother KANDURUNI by bolting her door from within. Fucked-sister scavenger, carcass-eater.)
Such objectionable words and slangs like “Randi, Alakshani” (page 277) are used in this book. Caste hatred sic passim in expressions like “Tu kana Gokhani (woman belonging to untouchable Gokha caste) pari nakare guna lagaibaku janma hoichhu?(page 271)” or “Yogya boil ajati, kujatire jhiaku daba?”(page 532) are distinct features of this book.
I do not say that the book is a completely bad book. But the book is infested with nasty expressions.
It is a shame that this book with nasty expressions has bagged the annual award of India’s National Academy of Letters for 2011 as the best amongst the books in Oriya language.
The award has generated hot controversy in Orissa.
We will discuss how illegally the selection of this book has been carried out. But for now, on the ground of this caste abuse alone, the book needs be banned and Orissa Government – constitutional protector of Oriya language and its magnificence – be asked to proceed to force the Central Sahitya Akademi to cancel its award.