“The native of Changanacherry is known for its caste. The people who hailed from this place were known as the ‘Colony’ folks – that is, people belonging to the Dalit community. Shortly after my birth, I was diagnosed with cancer and as I grew up, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. My father left us as soon as I was born so my mother took up work as a household maid.
Being a member of the Dalit community, I have known oppression like no other! Right from schools to places of work and even college, I was referred to by the name ‘Colony kid’ and I was discriminated against. I still remember this one incident when my teacher from my school, took me by my hand and made me sit at the back of the class to allow the upper-class kids to sit in the front rows.
Growing up with three half-sisters, life was never easy for me. I had my own bodily ailments as well as so many family issues. But one impressive thing about me was my studies. Everyone could see that I studied well and my mother once told me quite firmly that ‘If I wanted to prosper in life, then I would have to hold on to my education; it was all in my hands alone.”
And thus fighting through the crisis, I got into a college and was studying there when in my second year, my mother fell sick; she could no longer work and we had to relocate to her native so she could be taken care of. My dreams were once again squashed as I had to discontinue my college. I took up a job as a salesgirl in one of the bike showrooms there. Working day in and day out, I was constantly humiliated by the owner’s wife where she would speak demeaning about my caste and humiliate me in front of everyone. One final day, I bought in the courage to leave that place, and in that same breath, I went straight to my college to continue my studies in sociology.
A beloved professor of mine who always looked after my best interests helped me get back in. And though initially, I had a tough time coping with the English medium, I got through my post-graduation and my M.Phil.
In the due time, I met the love of my life and we got married amidst a lot of turbulent situations in the house. For my Ph.D., I wanted to focus on creating a more holistic approach to Dalit awareness. So I started writing papers and to date, I have penned close to 200 papers. Pitching them to universities, I got the opportunity to present my paper ‘Social History of Dalit Colonies in Kerala, with Social Capital’ in different universities abroad including Harvard. I even won the Bluestone Rising Scholar Award in a prestigious International Competition on Caste organized by Brandeis University in the United States.
I am currently in the process of penning down my autobiography and also working with different magazines in Kerala as well as abroad where I speak about caste-related issues in bold print. My dream is to work towards fighting oppression in any way I can and work towards helping Dalit women everywhere in this world.”
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