A Dalit Woman’s Memoirs
About the Book
Translated for the first time into English, this writer’s autobiographical work, Aaydan(Baskets), made publishing history right from its moment of publication in 2004. Outspoken, confronting the issues of domestic violence squarely, she talks of what it is like to be an educated dalit (untouchable) woman. Urmila Pawar brings to the fore the complexities of the life of the dalit community and especially of dalit women, in a society that is changing rapidly after independence in 1947. Pawar engages with issues of identity and selfwood, caste/class consciousness, changing expressions of patriarchy and dalit women’s participation in emancipatory struggles and the closure and atrophy in dalit politics. Her memoir reveals a complexly constructed self as well as the troubled and complex interface between the feminist and dalit movements. As a young girl, brought up by her mother who was a single parent, Pawar’s perception of the residual and newly emergent forms of patriarchy, religion, familial relationships, violence and liberation is intense and acute. Of special interest is the record of three generations for a dalit modernity, about which readers have hitherto heard so little. Born in 1945.
[The Book] is marked by the honesty of its narration. Pawar looks at herself as child, daughter, wife and mother as objectively as she does at Harishchandra as a husband …her language changes imperceptibly as she moves into adolescence…in the final section, it acquires the polish of standard Marathi …Maya Pandit’s introduction is illuminating …Sharmila Rege’s Afterword posits the book as a touchstone by which to assess the current relationship between dalit scholarship and dominant academia.—Shanta Gokhale, The Hindu
Unlike many dalit narratives, Pawar’s work is a testimony of not only a lived experience , but is also a source of ‘articulating theory’…Of equal significance is the documentary value of these memoirs as well as Pawar’s capacity to critique feminist and dalit politics objectively. Pawar’s prose is fluid, as is evident from Maya pandit’s able translation.—The Telegraph
About the Author
Urmila Pawar took her school leaving certificate in 1963, moving to Bombay after her marriage. She later obtained an MA from the University of Bombay. She was worked with the labour movement of the Maharasthra government for many years. Considered a distinguished short story writer in Marathi, she has also coauthored a book with Meenakshi Moon on the role played by untouchable women in the nationalist movement (Amhihi lthas Ghadavila) and also written one-act plays.