The book was originally written by her in Tamil in and translated into the English version that I read by Lakshmi Holmstrom in Karukku is one of the first autobiographies of a Dalit woman written in Tamil. It was in that Bama left the convent that she had been a member of for seven years. She does not describe events only in terms of the impact they had on her later life, but writes of the experiences she had as moments of oppression that composed her daily lived reality.
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Bama born , also known as Bama Faustina Soosairaj , is a Tamil Dalit feminist, committed teacher and novelist. She rose to fame with her autobiographical novel Karukku , which chronicles the joys and sorrows experienced by Dalit Christian women in Tamil Nadu. Her father, Susairaj was employed in the Indian Army  and her mother was named Sebasthiamma.
She is the sister of famous Dalit writer Raj Gauthaman. Bama's grandfather had converted from Hinduism to Christianity. Bama had her early education in her village.
Her early literary influences include Tamil writers like Jayakantan, Akhilan, Mani, and Parthasarthy. In college, she read and enjoyed Kahlil Gibran and Rabindranath Tagore.
On graduation, she became a schoolteacher for very poor girls, following which she served as a nun for seven years. After joining the nunnery, Bama found out that there was a separate training centre for Dalit Catholics. She finished her studies and joined as a teacher at a Catholic Christian school. During her teaching experience, she found out that the Catholic nuns oppressed the Dalit children and teachers. This further added to her disdain towards the convent.
This was when she began writing. With the encouragement of a friend, she wrote on her childhood experiences. She said she faced flak regarding the choice of her language from the members of the upper caste. That's when she decided to use the same dialect in all the novels subsequently. Bama got a loan and set up a school for Dalit children in Uttiramerur. In her essay she talks about her choice of being a single professional Dalit woman in India.
While she did grow up with dreams of marrying a man and having a girl child, she gradually chose being a single woman because according to her "the institution and structure of marriage and family as they exist today, are not woman-friendly at all.
She talks about how she has had to experience insults and suspicion for choosing to be single. Bama 's novels focus on caste and gender discrimination. They portray caste-discrimination practised in Christianity and Hinduism. Bama's works are seen as embodying Dalit feminism and are famed for celebrating the inner strength of the subaltern woman.
In an interview, Bama has said that she writes because she considers it her duty and responsibility to share the experiences of her people. In addition, she also finds the act of writing cathartic and liberating. For her, "writing itself is a political act", and a "weapon" that she uses to continuously fight against the dehumanizing caste practice. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Pudhupatti, Chennai , India.
We must not accept the injustice of our enslavement by telling ourselves it is our fate, as if we have no true feelings; we must dare to stand up for change. We must crush all these institutions that use caste to bully us into submission, and demonstrate that among human beings there are none who are high or low. Those who have found their happiness by exploiting us are not going to go easily. It is we who have to place them where they belong and bring about a changed and just society where all are equal.
The Tribune. Tamil Studies Conference. Archived PDF from the original on 20 August Retrieved 20 May The Indian Express. Retrieved The Telegraph. The Hindu. Dalit literatuer: A critical exploration.
National Herald. Literary Commons. Sharma, Kalpana, New Delhi. Writers in Conversation. Timeline First-wave Second-wave timeline Third-wave Fourth-wave.
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‘Karukku’: An Autobiography By Bama Exploring Her Tamil, Dalit And Christian Identity
Bama is the pen-name of a Tamil Dalit woman, from a Roman Catholic family. She has published three main works: an autobiography, Karukku , ; a novel, Sangati, ; and a collection of short stories, Kisumbukkaran Karukku means palmyra leaves, which, with their serrated edges on both sides, are like double-edged swords. By a felicitous pun, the Tamil word Karukku , containing the word hare, embryo or seed, also means freshness, newness. In her foreword, Bama draws attention to the symbol, and refers to the words in Hebrews New Testament , "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Karukku is the first autobiography of its kind to appear in Tamil, for Dalit writing in this language has not produced the spate of autobiographies which have appeared, for example, in Marathi.
Introduction To Karukku