On Caste In Everyday Urban Life

It does not hurt as much when you say I don't deserve you, it hurts when I too believe that I don't.

When someone asks what I mean by privilege,
or cultural capital,
all I can think of is material resources
while I know that
it is not just in the material that caste resides.
We do not yet have the vocabulary
To translate embodiment of caste inferiority and oppression.
I can try though…
It does not hurt as much when you say I don’t deserve you,
it hurts when I too believe that I don’t.
When I realize that somewhere I too
had been thinking of you as deserving someone better.
Perhaps in seeking role models,
I turn people into higher beings.
Material things
my easy source of envy and inferiority,
quickly get at work at this point
by confirming them as higher (better) beings –
the ones with all the goodness, kindness and empathy
the ones with all ethics and sensitivity
they know how to do politics right
how to treat people as people;
while we are reduced as the ones who steal,
who are mean,
we are tolerated as selfish people,
as victims of survival instincts.
They are the ones with all the knowledge and wisdom,
and the sense of right and wrong
and we are the ones, who
in learning from them
in our desires to become like them
Are constantly hating ourselves as
lowly, corrupt, irrational, uncultured,
unsophisticated, unsmart, unethical
and incapable of love.
You reduce me to what you can see of me,
and validate my fears about myself.
I see myself through your eyes.
You made me my own enemy
How do you then expect to not be hated?
Many times
it’s my embodiment of you,
your mannerisms,
your culture,
your sophistication, that I hate.
And many other times,
it’s my own lack of a sense of self,
that it seems like an impossibility to have a self, that I hate.
I feel too malleable, too consumable, to become a self.
And sometimes,
it’s my indulgence in shaping myself
as distinct from you, that I hate.

This story was about: Community Identities Intersectionality

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Bhanu Priya is a PhD scholar in Disability Studies at Ambedkar University Delhi. She is a Bahujan queer woman, caregiver, and a person with mental illness and chronic pain. She does free writing to vent and sometimes be creative. Lately, she is exploring her interest in food, travel and sarees. In this highly individualized, consumer-economy that shapes youth cultures in Delhi, she finds solace in the idea of community living with her small group of friends whom she chooses to spend most of her time with.
Bhanu Priya

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