Sometimes I feel an irrational urge to fling myself over Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi students and stand in between them and the rest of the world like a shield – the way my parents did, the way Babasaheb did, and the way so many others do. It’s an urge that keeps getting stronger and stronger with every passing day.
But as I have come to realise, the people who came before me didn’t just shield us, they gave us a way to live with dignity — but because this dignity keeps getting snatched away, we have to keep finding newer ways to live, and to love. Today writing has come to mean both those things.
Because somewhere in the country, a Jabya is finding the courage to throw back a stone, a boy is learning how to speak English, a woman is hiding in the library so she can read all night, and a girl is learning how to carry an ‘extra saree’ in her bag, just like Savitrimai did — all of this because the cow dung just won’t stop coming.
Every time we write, we are breaking something powerful down. Marginalised histories have always shown us that our work very often does a better job of shielding us than we ever could. This is what Savitrimai taught the world when she chose to continue walking calmly in the midst of name-call and attacks.
The Rohith Vemula Archive – named after the boy who wanted to write about science is a searing reminder to all of us of what we could have had. In his memory, we hope to archive and document writing by Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi students.
He didn’t say he wanted to be a leader, he didn’t say he wanted to be a revolutionary. All he said was he wanted to be a writer.
And this is a tribute to the boy who ‘always wanted to be a writer’