"LANGUAGE is the primary powerful tool to protest against anything and a genuine voice for dissent and resistance," says poet Meena Kandasamy.
Inspired by the popular writer Kamala Das, this 24-year-old city-based poet feels that casteism is a 5,000-year-old problem and is still growing only because people take it without voicing any opinions. "Even love is a battle. Many lovers have been separated and many have even ended their lives because of this man-made system," she says.
After Meena completed her schooling, she started reading many raw and powerful black poems. That made her decide that she has to voice her opinion against what is widely accepted. Her first book Touch was released in 2006 comprising 86 of the 150 poems she has penned down and has a foreword by Kamala Das.
Working as the editor for a bi-monthly titled The Dalit has only sharpened her awareness on what it is for a woman living in a caste-ridden nation. She has been writing vociferously on casteism and gender. Apart from writing poems, Meena has also done many translations and the most significant among them are the writings and speeches of Thol Thirumavalavan, leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panthers Party). Besides translating a lot of Tamil Dalit poems into English, she has also translated works of Tamil Eelam poet Kasi Anandan.
"Dalit poems are powerful. There are many Dalit women who have composed them," she says. Expressing her opinions on gender problems, she says that women were always crushed and crumpled in society and the men who are the root cause for some problems are never addressed, citing the example of the woman BPO employee who was raped and murdered in Bangalore a few months back. "Government has to change its attitude. It advices the woman to be safe and careful but does not talk or deal seriously about the man behind such a tragedy," says Meena.
Voicing her thoughts on the 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament, she says that it still looks like a dream for Indian women. By blocking reservation, she says that the MPs are blocking their own wives, sisters and daughters from also becoming MPs. "This clearly shows the psyche of Indian men," he says. It is only because men make laws that domestic problems arises, she adds. Much has been talked about empowering women by influential people in society but it all ends with just public speeches and not much of action has been taken. "If the women are not empowered, then the next generation men can never taste success in their lives,'' says the revolutionary poetess. Meena is now doing her Phd specialising in language teaching, technical translation and others. On the other side she is also penning a novel titled Gypsy Goddess, that talks about Dalit counter-culture. The book is likely to be launched at the end of this year. Penguin publishers have expressed their wish to publish this young writers book.