06 September, 2012
Amma and Other Stories
Amma and Other Stories
By- Omprakash Valmiki and Naresh K. Jain (tr. and Introduction)
Amma and Other Stories is an English translation of fifteen stories of the leading Hindi dalit writer, Omprakash Valmiki, best known for his autobiography Joothan.
Together these stories vocalize the anguish and anger of the lowliest of the low in the caste hierarchy. More specifically, they deal with their sufferings at the hands of the dominant high castes and their questioning of their oppressors; their slender hopes and their small dreams; and their problems of identity as they try to make their way up the social and economic ladder. Omprakash Valmiki lists women of all classes among the dalits and there is a story in the collection that shows a high caste woman suffering at the hands of her male relatives. Softer emotions of love and longing are also not left out. Valmiki is acutely aware of the caste hierarcy among the dalits themselves and his story ‘Shavayatra’ makes for a deeply poignant reading. ‘Amma’ of the title is almost an epic tale of a dalit woman’s resolve to keep her progeny away from the broom and the canister.
At their best the stories are not merely dalit stories but a deeply human collection that will compel attention, engage the sympathies of the readers and make them ask inconvenient questions. The stories will also add a new dimension to dalit discourse.
The English translation is being published in the hope that the stories will reach a much wider audience and will sensitize readers to the travails of the dalits and their efforts to make a space for themselves, and help prepare the climate for social change.
Omprakash Valmiki, a leading Hindi dalit writer and author of the celebrated autobiography Joothan (1994) has published three collections of poetry Sadiyon ka Santaap [The Centuries-old Anguish], Bas! Bahut Ho Chuka [Stop it! That’s Enough] (1997) and Ab Aur Nahin [Not Any More] (2008); and two collections of short stories, Salaam [Obeisance] (2000) and Ghuspaithiye [Intruders] (2003). He has also written Dalit Sahitya Ka Saundarya Shastra [The Aesthetics of Dalit Literatue] (2001) and a history of Valmiki community, Safai-Devata [God of Cleanliness] (2008).
Naresh K. Jain, formerly Reader in English, School of Correspondence Courses, University of Delhi, has written several books including Love in Modern American Drama and is the editor of Women in Indo-Anglian Fiction: Tradition and Modernity.
ISBN 81-7304-783-9 2008 244p. Rs.595/ pounds 40