A Disturbing Tale
B. Mangalam
THE OUTCASTE (AKKARMASHI) by Sharankumar Limbale Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2004, 121 pp., 195.00
February 2004, volume 28, No 2

Sharankumar Limbale’s autobiography Akkarmashi was published in 1984 and received critical acclaim. The author was twenty-five years old at the time. Written in a dialect of the Maharas, Akkarmashi was considered a path-breaking milestone in dalit autobiographical writing in Marathi. A rather slim volume, it records the agony and struggles faced by the author, born to a Patil father and a Mahar mother. It also documents the social success achieved by the author on the strength of his hard work and academic achievements as well as the numerous sacrifices made by his mother, grandmother and her live-in partner, Mahmood Dastagir Jamadar, in nurturing and educating him. It is, thus, a tale both of struggle and accomplishment. It is a disturbing tale not only on account of its candour, its bitter critique of caste and gender oppression that stands legitimized by society but more significantly on account of the writer’s eagerness to be accepted by the very class/caste that has been the root cause of his humiliation and anguish. From this perspective, Akkarmashi makes a rather problematic intervention in dalit politics and writing.

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