We sowed the seeds when we called ourselves Hindu
And every time we named our caste
And every time we said caste is not all bad
The grass sprouted and we watered it
Each time we treated the Dalit as other
When we arranged marriages within our caste
When we laughed at “those people” who get in through reservation.
The grass grew lush and long in our backyards
We looked away, pretending not to see it
Instead of tearing it up by the roots
Instead of burning it to the ground
We talked of our liberal lives in our liberal homes
We are caste blind, we said
None as blind as us who refused to see.
We pretended we earned it
That we didn’t benefit from privilege
That we had no privilege to benefit from
That we worked hard, or harder
While the grass grew so tall it hid
Those on the other side.
We forged the scythe of our hate and fear
In fires of contemptuous fury and flaming prejudice
We cooled it in bitter callousness
And pretended it wasn’t a weapon.
And we cut the grass, instead of burning it
We saved it and let it dry
And strand by bitter strand we wove it
To help our victim die.
Each time we said
Caste is irrelevant
What about the creamy layer
Caste is passé
Only class is to blame.
Each time we
Handed the maid a separate plate
Asked for a cook who doesn’t clean
Shrugged when beef was banned
Said religion isn’t all bad
And our ancestors were right about some things.
We wove the rope thicker and stronger
And left it for Rohith to find
We drove him out from his home, his work
We drove him out of this world we made
With our callousness, our selfishness, our hate.
Featured Image Credit: A still from a video on YouTube