A Dalit Happy by Hsenura


When I have to write
To all these publishing houses
They ask me to write on pain
Suffering, Hunger and Trauma
And if I differ, they say
These don’t look like Dalit poetry
They can’t stand to read
A Dalit Happy

Either it should start with
“We suffered in their hands”
Or it should end with
“Our hunger persisted forever”
They said
Their readers can’t believe
That a Dalit can be happy

They said
My poems aren’t Dalit poems
For they don’t speak about oppression
They don’t speak about Ambedkar
They don’t speak about misery

They said
I’m a Dalit
And so I must write hard hitting poems
Poems that can revolutionize the world
Poems that can disturb the privileged
They said
The market demands it
But never said whose market it was

They said
A free dalit with upward mobility
An independent dalit with confidence
A romantic dalit with quest for love
Can’t exist in their books
They said
They need raw poems
Associated more with soil
With aesthetics and culture
And when I said that we moved afar
From those discriminatory native lands
From the clutches of benevolent landlords
They said, “go back to your roots”

Yes I know
My roots and culture
Were stolen from my foreparents
I know I need to write about it
But should I never escape my trauma
Should I not live in peace
And write of all the beautiful things
Like butterflies, rainbows and so on?
And even when I write of animals
They ask me to write on Pigs
On buffalo, on native dogs,
And all the other animals
They won’t associate with.

They said a lot more
What can I write on
What can’t I write on
They trained me to be a Dalit poet
They gained me the market
My books to their stores
And poems to their classrooms
Which they include in syllabus
The most mellowed of them all
And pat themselves on their backs
For being casteless and progressive

Can I never write like them,
About distant Casuarina trees?
When their rare racism sighting is valid
Why can’t my rare happiness be valid too?
When will my happiness be valid?
When will my romance be valid?
When will my peace be valid?
When’d these be marketable?

None of my trauma disturbs them
None of my suffering disturbs them
Only thing that always disturbs
Every Oppressor’s psyche
Is the happiness of the Oppressed
The success of them
And the fearlessness of them
Most importantly, their love.