The Indian Quarterly
Love in the Time of Caste Image Credit: The Indian Quarterly
Love in the Time of Caste Image Credit: The Indian Quarterly

Love In The Time Of Caste

Since October 2012 Meena Kandasamy has been visiting Dalit settlements in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, where an inter-caste marriage resulted in horrifying violence. Excerpts from a work in progress

Meena Kandasamy

CASTE IS A CONSTANT STATE OF war. Depends how you define war, I suppose. Let me try again. War is about borders and boundaries, war is waged in their defence. War is the destruction of homes, villages, towns, cities. War results in the creation of makeshift camps. War makes people refugees in their own motherland. War is the permanent loss of precious belongings and property. War pushes men to use any means necessary. War lacks sympathy, war is an act of cowardice, war exults in the elimination of the other, war entails bloodbaths. War is accompanied by loot and pillage. War leaves wounds that last forever. War is someone suffering for someone else stepping out of line. War is mindless. War is not just the absence of peace, or love, sometimes it is just hate.

These are not the extended metaphors that a poet retrieved after a stroll in the forest. I remember my first visit to Dharmapuri as the day of unending tears. The Dalit colonies that had been attacked resembled villages scarred by invading armies.

Everything said about war, I try to rethink in terms of caste, to see if it comes alive. You can try that too—right now, right here.

Wars are aimed to teach a lesson. So is caste-Hindu violence.

I show my pictures to a friend, an elderly British man, because I want to know what to do with them. I cannot have them in a gallery, I know next to nothing about exhibiting. I’m not an artist, I’m not a photographer, I’m just a wr


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