My father is Lingayat, he can’t be seen with us: Padma, daughter of a Devadasi

“There are no more stories here. None left to tell…”; Creaks on the walls resembled twigs, here. One broken end reaching out to another. Shadows flitted across the room; their ashen arms stretching far and wide. There was a stillness, this afternoon. It went unbroken for a while. Bhushya stuck his fingers in his mouth. […]

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‘At tea stalls, there are separate utensils for Dalits. The barber doesn’t touch our hair…’

“You aren’t alone. The Goddess will look after you. She won’t leave your side. You need nothing else.” “No one else…” There was a silence. In memories that recurred, in words that quivered. Shobha gazed at the patches of brown that had lost their colour. They were whittled down over time. On the floor, she […]

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‘Every girl born here was dedicated. There are 800 Devadasis residing in our village…’

“To understand their world, you have to visit their past,” he said, that day… There were many pasts. And, they were of many kinds: some forgotten, some changed, and some vanquished to unknown depths. But everybody had one. Or several, as some would recall. The women remembered them all. A few felt trapped in it, […]

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‘Some were rescued, some rehabilitated. Everybody had a story.’

Each morning, they looked different; their smooth edges collapsing into stark columns. Amidst those boulders, stood memories of past and present. Ruins, they were called. For, they captured time. Both in remnants, and memories. In collapsing structures, that survived their past… In the streets lingered men, women and children: modern inhabitants of ancient towns. They […]

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‘Without rain, there can’t be any crop. Without crop, there can’t be any man…’

She wasn’t there. Beneath the tree, she’d sit all morning while her grandchildren played in the courtyard. She’d look at the street, at the debris scattered on the roadside, at the construction site where lay trolleys of bricks and stone, at the flowers that never blossomed, at empty balconies with mats filled with red chillies. […]

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