A television news report I'd seen a few years ago captured this strange tale of a small clan of people living atop trees less than five hundred miles from my desk. They ate, relaxed, slept and lived on the branches of peepul trees in a farm adjoining a village. They belonged to a community of swineherds, people who normally live inside villages or on their fringe, interact with other villagers every day and have a role to play in village life, not a chunk of pre-history that forgot to erase itself, evolve. How could they become so unsure of all firm ground?please read the rest of 'I'll weep like Karamchedu!' at the danse macabre, 'Nevada's first online literary magazine'. thanks, nabina, for all the support.
Their story illustrates the ineffable nature of the reaches of marginality in Indian society: the abyss of marginality could be lurking outside your door. A single mis-step, and you could drop off the horizon.
Land and caste are dominant themes in poetry in Telugu, by poets from the Dalit Bahujan (or the ‘lower’ castes) communities, because land, as little as a quarter of an acre, means a firmer hold on rural economic life and caste determines your chances of inheriting or acquiring land.
Narayanaswami laments, as though he is talking to himself:
land's the problem
the problem's only land
a little land for food
or for your death
the problem's wholly land
an article i'd written on dalit poetry in telugu had been published here: