August 15, 2015.

Buvana heard an ominous scream that resembled the ghastly screeches she had heard while watching a Tamil horror film. Her heart was hammering from inside. Why am I afraid?, she thought, there is a temple car festival going on in my village, people are celebrating, my father has contributed thousand rupees for our grand festival…

But, it was fright, pure dread. More screams visited Buvana’s ears. The echoes of the patriotic songs that she had sung at school still remained in the vibrations of her ear, in the depths of her throat. India is one, she reminded herself, there is no caste, religion, class or creed in the pure blood that flows into our hearts. The hand of her mother, Pavithra, clutched her and pulled her outside the house. They are attacking us, she said, the Vanniyars; we are Dalits and we are not supposed to pull the temple car through their streets. As they ran out they saw that many of the Dalit huts were on fire.

Buvana looked at the mob, the furious mob. She looked deep into the eyes of a middle-aged woman. The fire in her eyes could burn hell. She held a bottle in her hand. It was a liquor bottle. She threw it over their thatched roof and set it ablaze.

The Vanniyars are using petrol bombs!, Pavithra whispered. She remembered that it was only a week ago that all women had come together to fight the liquor mafia. Women were turning against women, children were turning against children: all in the name of caste.

A policeman who covered his blood dripping head with an hand kerchief cried out: Run, run to the fields!

Mother and daughter. The bond was so strong. No human vice could stop them. It rained heavily: a sign from above. They joined many other Dalits at the field. They were shivering. Where is Appa?. asked Buvana. The mother did not answer. She only sighed and sends an emotional signal to the gods that created the fields. The paddy fields kept them alive. Rice knows no caste, it only knows to feed.

The people in the field looked at each other. They were the oppressed. They were together. They were less in number, but the stabs of oppression pierced their hearts. Legends and traditions sang its epics in their hammering hearts. Their great culture and heritage defined their identity. They remembered a story, a true story. Everyone remembered it. It was stuck in the collective consciousness of their race. It was the story of Dharmapuri. The great massacre of Dharmapuri.


One thought on “The Dharmapuri Massacre, Chapter 1: Message in a bottle

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