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Abstract

As B.R. Ambedkar stated in Annihilation of Caste, day laborers only suffer grueling labor on subsistence wages owing to their terror of punishment given to those who question it. This story reminds readers that so-called ritual impurity or untouchability has never stopped non-privileged caste people from being violated through touch and sexual abuse. The agitation over the 2012 Delhi gang rape and the more recent revelations of #MeToo occur amidst a long history of low-income Dalit women and girls routinely facing rape and other forms of repeated sexual assault from powerful landowners whose word can stop or start their wages. This story allows us to listen to the conversations and internal monologue of two-day laborers, both of whom struggle on a non-living wage. Devamani waits for her abuse to end, hoping the next generation will not be treated as a spittoon for men’s bodily fluids. Meanwhile, her friend Suguna finds the only way possible to feed her extended family.

Note on the Author

M.M. Vinodini is a writer, scholar and has also made a name for herself in Dalit-feminist literary circles and among activists. She was born in 1969 in Guntur, coastal Andhra Pradesh (India). She is a multi-genre writer, including short stories, poetry, and literary criticism that revises the classical Telugu literary tradition.

Afsar Mohammed is Lecturer of Foreign Languages at the South Asia Studies Department, University of Pennsylvania, USA. He is a celebrated Telugu poet, short story writer, and literary critic and the author of many scholarly essays along with The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India (Oxford University Press, 2013).

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