We are having a party in the slums of Maharashtra tonight, April 14. It's got everything that you can think of in a rollicking bash. There are DJs spinning awesome dance beats, remixing everything from matkajhatka numbers to lawanis with bits of angrezi lines thrown in and the adrenaline is rushing out in blaring pulses through huge black speakers. Our women have coloured their lips, dabbed their faces with powder, put flowers in their hair and turned out in the best dress from their trunks. If they look cheap, then you have noted correctly. The dresses and the make-up were bought in a low-end bazaar at places that hold defective dress sales. They had saved this dress from many temptations gone by just for this special day.

Our children too have been dolled up in even cheaper frilly synthetic dresses and the talcum powder stands out on their dark-skinned faces. As for our men, they have a bit of cheap liquor in their breath and are dying to let loose and dance like mad men. Our rowdy young boys were never really known for their decency and hence have thrown all care to the winds and are dancing like clowns while our young girls look at them coyly and giggle from some distance.

Many of our homes will be cooking beef; it's far cheaper than mutton and chicken so frankly we can't afford to care about your religious sentiments. In fact, if you look at us everything about is low on price, save the million-dollar smiles on our face today.

What's the occasion? It's the 14th of April and we are celebrating Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar's birthday.

I know you dislike us and everything we are doing. But today is our day and you must simply endure us. And why not, I say? We put up with everything you do every single day, and have been doing so from time immemorial, so save us that look for today. You turn up your pretty noses at the stench of our slums when you pass by. Have you ever realised that the stench is because we live beside a gutter that carries the shit out of your clean houses? Tonight, we dance free from the straitjackets of your decency – which we of all people know is bloody fake because remember we work in your homes silently and see all your dirt all the while.

Tonight, we dance because it's the birthday of the man who showed us clearly that we were human beings. He didn't simply rename us and soothe your guilt by being euphemistic. He actually told us we were humans who had the right to dream and the right to be happy. We know you find us dirty, ugly, ignorant and wretched. But he showed us we were dirty because you took away our clothes and our water, ugly and undeveloped because you took away our food and left us to eat the rotting things, ignorant because you wrote books in languages we did not know and you wouldn't let us be taught and we were wretched because slaves are always that. And from then on we worked at stopping to be dirty, ugly, ignorant and wretched. Of course, most of us are still all of that but that's because you have had a few centuries of head start and even now you'd do everything in your power to stop us — including buying some of us out.

We know we are dancing in the middle of the road and your car is held up in the traffic. Don't swear like you own the road! What makes you think the road belongs exclusively to you? Why should it? Because you drive home from glass covered buildings? Look around someday. For every car you drive, a score of us are walking by the side or have stuffed ourselves into buses and share autos. In fact, when the mud was dug and the tar as black as our skins was laid for your car to zoom smoothly, it was we who were here working in the sun and into the late night while you cursed the country's bad system in your imported style. Whether or not the road belongs to you is of little importance, the bigger truth is we belong to the road! Do you even know how many of us were born here? Or how many of us eat, sleep, love, have families and live out our entire lives here on the roads? And yet you think you have the right of way?

And by all means we will dance, drunk and ugly, on the road. We could never go to the places your spoilt brats go to do their drunk and ugly dancing, could we? What you pay as tip is what we spend for food for an entire day! Even otherwise, the only way we go into those places where your kids act out their orgies is when we stand in the toilets waiting to clean up after them. So we will dance on the road. Think of it, when we are drunk and dancing and out on the road, we merely hold up your car. But when you have done your drinking and dancing and are out on the roads, you bloody drive your cars onto us and smash us into the pavements. That should set the record straight about who is more dangerous when drunk.

Even though we know will be back to working for you tomorrow, underpaid, abused and putting up with your acting as though you carry the world on your shoulders, tonight we celebrate. Clearly, you have two options. Sit in your cars and curse us, or join The Party.

(The writer's email is siddharthyaroy@gmail.com)


Ambedkar partyApril 28, 2011

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