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Representation on the Page: Addition of a Diverse Voice

‘Diverse voice’ in literature is more than just a buzzword. It is a movement that aims to break down the barriers of representation and give voice to marginalized groups that have been historically underrepresented. Reading books with a diverse voice, those written by authors from different backgrounds and perspectives is essential in broadening our understanding of the world and ourselves. So, here’s an excerpt from Yogesh Maitreya’s Water in a Broken Pot which will be a great addition to your TBR.

Water in a Broken Pot
Water in a Broken Pot || Yogesh Maitreya


I did not make friends in the class. At the most, they were acquaintances, some of them sensible. A friendship develops in equal spaces, where your share in ‘giving’ and ‘taking’ is equal, or where you are fully accepted with your historical self, where you are accepted with equal respect and the pride with which people perceive themselves, isn’t it? Not that there were no students in TISS who did not share my history or past. There were many Dalit students here; they had come after so much struggle, crossing social barriers and acquiring admission purely on the basis of their merit and talent. But I suspected that they were becoming institutionalized. The way they wrote, articulated themselves or started perceiving the world indicated the increasing impact of TISS’s pedagogical language on their thought processes. It was not their fault. Institutions are created to institutionalize a person. Be it school, universities or prison.


In India, institutions dominated by Brahminical communities are meant to Brahminize a person. What kept me vigilant about this was my engagement with poetry and my growing conviction that it was through poetry that I could seek clarity about myself and the world around me. So when students were asked and encouraged to read ‘scientific’ research papers, I read them quickly just to copy their style of writing and know their methods, but for the clarity of the subject and to assert myself, I always relied on fiction and poetry in Dalit literature.


To write an assignment, or to explore the academic world, a laptop was becoming a growing necessity. I could not dare to ask my parents for money to buy a laptop. It was simply beyond their financial capacity. So the only option was an education loan. Many Dalit–Bahujan students who did not have the financial capacity to survive here chose this option. But without any guarantee for substantial employment after the completion of the course, it was a risk. Besides, no one asked whether students would want to work in order to repay the loan. To adjust to the demands here, students simply ran out of choices. For example, when I availed the education loan, I knew that it would take years of my life to repay it, which meant I had to work—even if I wanted to study further—just to repay the loan. But needs are created and capitalist provisions are there to fulfil those needs. This was a trap,
I understood later.

When I got the loan of Rs 84,000 for the laptop and my expenditure for two years, I went with Saira and bought the laptop and books. The remaining money was spent within a couple of months before the end of the first semester. There was no guiding figure to ask the students what they would like to do in the future, and there was simply no mechanism in place to encourage them in their intellectual endeavours. In India, institutes contradict their own philosophies. The problem of Dalit students is that they continue to walk with this dilemma only to realize that many of their dreams, which they once nurtured, are now completely buried in the process of institutionalization. They are in it. But they are not an essential part of it. They are in the institution to serve it in many unknown ways.


Be sure to add this diverse voice to your reading list this month!

5 Books That Will Brighten Up Your Diwali

Diwali is a celebration of lights, homecoming, and the victory of good over evil. This Diwali, come home to stories of hope and triumph of humanity over darkness, fear and hopelessness.
Here are 5 books you should read this Diwali 


Hoshang Merchant in this collection captures the true meaning of yaraana or male friendship and bonding, an often ignored facet of South Asian life and sexuality. The collection features some enigmatic stories like  Ashok Row Kavi’s autobiographical piece on growing up gay in Bombay and Vikram Seth’s brilliantly etched account of a homosexual relationship in The Golden Gate. The book shows how love and companionship can brighten up any dark day.


Kanshiram: Leader of the Dalits by [Narayan, Badri]
Fetching from various oral and written sources, Badri Narayan shows how Kanshiram mobilized dalits with his homespun idiom, cycle rallies and, uniquely, the use of local folk heroes and myths, rousing their self-respect, and how he struck opportunistic alliances with higher-caste parties to seize power for dalits. Authoritative and insightful, this is a rare portrait of the man who changed the face of dalit society and, indeed, of Indian politics. The book inspires one to fight for their rights, and combat the force of darkness.

Bombay Stories

Bombay Stories is a collection of short stories about actors, prostitutes, intellectuals, conmen and more. Originally written in Urdu by Saadat Hasan Manto, it is set in the 1930s and 1940s, when the author had just arrived in the city. Anyone who is interested in the history and culture of Bombay or is a fan of translated Urdu literature, can enjoy reading this book. It will guide one to seek what is good, and annihilate the evil in this world.

Unheard Voices

In this book, civil servant and social activist Harsh Mander draws on his own and his colleagues’ experiences to explore the lives of twenty people who have survived and coped despite being pushed to the hopeless margins of society. The stories act like beacons of hope that will make Diwali seem a little brighter. The book will enlighten one to seek light in this weary world.

Children, Women, Men

Set in the late 1930s and reflecting the political and social turmoil of the pre-war years, it chronicles the psychological conflict between Srinivasa Aiyar and his nine-year-old son, Balu. The ambitious novel also tells the story of Anandam, a young widow, as she considers remarriage, and Sridaran, who chooses to break off his studies in England in order to join nationalist activities at home. The book in its true essence display how happiness is found in the darkest days.
So, which book are you reading this Diwali?

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