B.R.P. BHASKAR

AKKARMASHI: Sharankumar Limbale, Translated by Kaliyath Damodaran; Mathrubhumi Books, Kozhikode. Rs. 100. WHAT DOES one say of a 25-year-old who attempts an autobiography? That he has not lived long enough to write the story of his life? The argument does not hold good in the case of Sharankumar Limbale, the Marathi writer. By the age of 25 he had accumulated the experience of a lifetime and acquired the skill to write about it.Son of a Lingayat landlord's Dalit concubine, he is an 'akkarmashi'(half caste) who eventually comes to terms with life as a Dalit. As he narrates his bitter experiences, he raises uncomfortable questions. He asks, for instance, how one can be an untouchable by birth.Limbale gives poignant expression to the agony and indignity of Dalit existence in rural India. Though his theme is the tyranny of caste, he also introduces the reader to individuals who cross the barriers of caste and religion not in a spirit of defiance but in a routine manner. Interestingly, he frequently draws parallels from the Hindu epics.Thus, he observes that he grew up like Karna of the Mahabharata and that the akkarmashi is like Jarasandha, with a half that is acceptable and a half that is not acceptable.