The first Dalit novel in Oriya is also a clash of generational views— education and radical action as an armature and counter to prejudice
Akhila Naik’s protagonist in Bheda is an angry young rebel, albeit one with a grave cause. his anger, though, is a much more restrained version of the kind portrayed by the angry young men of 1970s and ’80s Bollywood. The reader is struck by the author’s mildness of tone right at the beg inning. Remarking on the grave discrimination embedded in the naming of the caste to which the author belongs, Naik remarks that, “in one sense, the meaning of the term Dom was ‘bad’. But we are not at all ‘bad’ people”. This tone of mild but assertive confidence in one’s identity is reiterated by the protagonist of the book, laltu and by his father, Dinamastre. Both of them are in sync with the zeitgeist of their respective generations— Dinamastre displays Gandhian non violence along with complete faith in education as the path to emancipation, while laltu is invested in activism and in spreading awareness about the atrocities suffered by Dalits in the villages of Orissa’s kalahandi district.
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August 14, 2017