Civilized Dalit Life in the “Chicago Lo Nannamma” Short Stories of B.S.Ramulu – Dr. K.Rajani

Dalit literature, or literature about the Dalits, an oppressed Indian caste under the Indian caste system, forms a prominent part of Indian literature. Dalit literature emerged in the 1960’s, starting with the Marathi language, and soon appeared in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages, through narratives such as poems, short stories, and, most , autobiographies, which stood out due to their stark portrayal of reality and the Dalit political scene.

Dalit literature denounced as petty and false the then prevailing portrayal of life by the Sadashiv Pethi literature which lacked mention of the abject poverty-stricken lifestyle of the Dalits and the utter oppression the Dalits faced, at that time, from the higher castes. It is often compared with African-American literature especially in its depiction of issues of racial discrimination and injustice, as seen in slave and aboriginal narratives.

According to K. Satchidanandan, Dalit literature began to be mainstreamed in India with the appearance of the English translations of Marathi Dalit writing. An Anthology of Dalit Literature, edited by Mulk Raj Anand and Eleanor Zelliot, and Poisoned Bread: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Literature, originally published in three volumes and later collected in a single volume, edited by Arjun Dangle, both published in 1992, were perhaps the first books that popularised the genre throughout India.

But the origins of Dalit writing can be traced back to Buddhist literature; Dalit Bhakti poets like Gora, Raidas, Chokha Mela and Karmamela; and the Tamil Siddhas, or Chittars (6th to 13th centuries C.E.), many of whom must have been Dalits going by hagiographical accounts like Periyapuranam (12th century). But it was after the democratic and egalitarian thinkers such as Sree Narayana Guru, Jyotiba Phule, B.R. Ambedkar, Iyothee Thass, Sahodaran Ayyappan, Ayyankali, Poykayil Appachan and others cogently articulated the sources and modes of caste oppression that modern Dalit writing as a distinct genre began to emerge in Indian languages.

BS-RAMULUB.S.Ramulu, is a popular writer and social activist of repute. He is versatile writer, as he has written novels, short stories, and articles. His novel Bathuku Poru, was his maiden attempt. Palu, Smruthi, palu and other stories, Thenateegalu, Bathuku payanam,  Kalam techina marpu, Chicago lo Nannama, a collection of Short stories have been translated in to English by name Journey of Life. His attachment to Telangana seems to have rooted deep in him, which is reflected in his articles. The present collection of short stories brings the civilized life of Dalits. There are many theses and a few M.Phil., on his stories. His collection of Short stories Palu has been included in the curriculum of Kakatiya University. His works on short stories like, Kathala Badi, Katha Sahithya Rachanaku Kathakudi patalu, carved a niche for himself as the latter is published by Emesco publications.

In his forward Dr. C. Narayana Reddy, acclaimed him for opting villages as his theme. He also appreciated him for presenting day to day incidents that happen to everyone as the plot of the story. Making short stories out of every day activities is not easy. The experience to   sketch the cross border clash, and the old woman`s struggle to come to terms with life. `Bhudevi`s` granddaughter Swapna  is bred according to the life style of U.S. A. She is in love with a European Richard; her parents wanted Swapna to marry an Indian, that to a man who belongs to her community. All the while reading the stories of Dalits usually reflects the oppression and suppression inflicted on them. This particular collection tries to portray the civilized life style of the Dalits, not only in India but also in America. The author has analyzed his own stories in a critical view.  He has categorized his story Nanamma to those stories like Sripada subramanya Sasthri`s Margadarsi, and Kalipatnam Ramarao`S Kutra. He has classified his other stories also under that category such as, Varusalu, Panjaram etc. Women of that age love their past, second generation try to live in the present, while the progeny rule out the feelings of nostalgia. When people cannot change they have to endure the change, then they can gain the sustenance.

The story `Paatha Cheera` reflects the present life where the moral decadence is obvious. The elders in the family are look down upon. They are viewed as moral obligation. The story Varasalu reflects the lives of the millers who extract gingley oil.  As days’ advance they try to serve as the textile merchant. How they were deprived of their living. The story Thulasi reflects the negligence of parents and overlooking the moral imparted by them. The other stories Panjaram, and Parasites in common deals with the way parents themselves are responsible to the way they are teaching their children to be selfish. Though the plots are common, the story telling techniques involved are `post modern`. At times B.S. Ramulu seems to have narrated the story with the inspiration of Rabindranath Tagore.ChicagoloNanamma

The author confesses that while writing Prema Dhara`, `Prasantham`, he was over whelmed with emotion. It is true that the emotional intensity was obviously seen in the gripping narration, yet he tried to execute the plot with social consciousness and social responsibility.  The story `Vara Lakshmi`, has revealed a new dimension, heroine is a deaf women who was abandoned by her husband Anjaneyulu. As a man he was successful in his Second Marriage, while Varalakshmi could not marry for the Second time. Here Gender bias was shown in a Diplomatic manner.

Conclusion :

B.S. Ramulu has delt with the themes with a view to bring change in Social setup of the World. In every Story Social realism and Social Consciousness runs as an undercurrent. Stories such as Parasites, Thulasi, Panjaram reflect and support the Statement. If a Section of Readers gets redeemed by reading his stories probably the mission of the Writer would get Successful.


                                                                   –    Dr. K.Rajani, M.A.,Ph.D.,

                                                                 Lecturer in English,

                                                                     P.V.K.N.Govt. College,

                                                                           Chittoor, A.P.,  517002    

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