THE REMONSTRATIVE VOICE IN KALYANI THAKUR CHARAL’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY AMI KANO CHARAL LIKHI
What makes Dalit writing in Bengal different? The state, known to have brought forth many reformative movements involving women, like widow marriage and abolishing Sati, was late in giving voice to its Dalit writers. The Renaissance and the humanistic impulse that reached the shores of India with the advent of the British rule influenced Bengali writers like Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya, Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhaya, Shankar, Sunil Gangopadhaya and more recently Mahasweta Devi and Amitav Ghosh. These writers included the plight of the marginalised in their works and addressed issues that were never raised before. But these were not writings that emerged out of experience of an empty gut and the blood and sweat of generations forming a collective memory of the oppressed. The reformist Brahmo Samaj was joined by the elite and well to do Bengalis and while they looked into the plight of the women, there is no record of any dalit woman ever becoming a Brahmo. Dalit existence remained largely unrecognised in Bengal, so much so that when the dalit movement started in here it was difficult for the Bengalis to acknowledge their presence in the society. But a language that was strewn with class differences, there had to be someone with a strong voice of remonstration to bring it up and fight for their right.