There is nothing like an enrapturing book, on a warm Sunday night; the world is asleep and you are melted into an era so gruesome yet fearless, adhering to the lineage you come from or may be going into or never wanting to be in it. But, end of the beautifully narrated story in ‘The house of blue mangoes’ that preserved the wrath of caste-ism, I was but left with a lot of questions, for which I didn’t want to seek an answer.
I have never understood the fear, displeasure and nonchalant contempt associated with fellow beings. I have never tried to understand the decree which drives one to prejudice in the safe name of caste. I have further refused to realize the repercussions of breaking this very barricade that has been preserved so rigidly in our mindsets carrying it subconsciously and practicing them unknowingly in who we are and where we come from.
One of my first encounters at the factor of caste was at the temple of my family deity. Amidst the goddess’s clout and the Brahmin’s prowess to please her, the little sanctum was the prerogative of the Brahmins alone and the others had to be satisfied with watching the goddess at a safe distance on the outside. As a child, I never understood why we were given the special privilege to look at the Devi at such closeness, that you could almost feel the heat of the lamps dancing to the rhythm of the Brahmin’s enunciation of the potent slokams. He would amidst his rigmarole of ceremonies, keep a watchful eye to ensure no one from the unprivileged class made his way to the sanctum. However, over the years, I had decided not to question such faiths or practices owing to my sheer bafflement at the pace of life and ways of life that dwelled in regions like here.
As I grew out of the age of chaste, when one wishes to do everything that is a heady taboo, I had indulged myself in trying to taste the very disapproving in the Iyer family – non-veg. And because of one day of folly, amma to date takes my promises over phone that I have not touched chicken since and hence. Instances like these make me wonder if, faiths and practices were meant to make one live a life of blissful ignorance and convenience; even if they were not, I believe it has evolved to take that place.
I am not going to vehemently state the need to shun the beliefs one’s family or bearers have carried for a long time and banter the need to let go. I must confess, I am not a staunch subscriber to these thoughts either. How else can I explain my peculiar tastes to a Brahmin made vatha kozhambu and the need to hog curd rice with kadu maanga? How else do I owe my urge to seek education and independence above retiring to a child-bearer and safely said home-maker? How else may I cash on the secret feeling of relief to belong to an educated and respected class of Brahmin which abates the necessary rebel and feminist in me?
Life always seems to come to a full circle, or go in one. And when one is able to look beyond the bigger picture, living the life that elders disdain is a bitter-sweet one. My first headstrong encounter of skirmish was ‘meet-the-parents’. While the two of us involved cared less about our descent, bringing the parents together was a lot of hard work; honestly harder than the 12th std Board exams. And before we had come into terms with understanding the ramification of bringing cultures, practices and beliefs circumscribed in unyielding lines, life had turned upside down and inside out, until the only way to escape them was to let them be and us to be us.
It ruefully made me realize that even when one has grown above scorned values and misconstrued faiths, the urge to hold on remains deep down. It is something we are subconsciously told and brought up on. The tendency to wrath, speak aloud, eat meat, address elders, to dare, to survive, to learn; every little thing we are made up of, is influential and though most of us (including me) would conveniently never agree to coast these dispositions to the caste we come from, it will take a long time for these imbibed ingredients to erase from our sullied minds carefully honed for generations.
It makes me wonder when it will be that we humans would actually belong to the species we rightfully belong to. And in a million years we will. Life always comes a full circle.