Let’s talk caste 


Continuing in the series of bedtime stories, today’s bedtime story was about Rohit Vemula
Me: Rohit was born into a poor family
Kid: Daddy, why was Rohit born into a poor family?

Me: Well, Rohits parents were poor, they were hard working but they were not earning enough to give the kids all the opportunities like going to school, wearing nice clothes, shoes or toys like other kids
Kid: Ok

Me: They belonged to a lower caste which made things even worse.
Kid: Why do you mean by a caste?
Me: Its an old practice to treat someone poorly based on the kind of work someone did. It’s similar to how Rosa Park was treated poorly based on how she looked, when she rode the all white bus.
Kid: So they were not given all the privileges? (She got it from the MLK chapter)

Me: (Surprised at her understanding) Yes, that’s right. Not only privileges but even the basic rights such as going to school, going to the public places etc. So despite all this Rohit was doing great at school. He was always getting good grades and many a times he would ask questions that the teacher wouldn’t know how to answer.
Kid: Then, what happened?

Me: Well he continued to do well and he graduated from the 10th grade, from his high school, his undergrad and he finally landed at the big university.
But all along, he had the fear of someone asking him about his caste and he was afraid that someone might ridicule him or think lower of him or treat him badly, if someone found out about it.
Kid: Why was he afraid though?
Me: Well, he had seen his mother suffer a lot when he was a kid, he saw how his mother was abused, insulted and even sometimes beaten because she was from a lower caste.

But Rohit slowly started to face it, question it and stand up for himself. He was also a great writer and wrote words that were very powerful and often inspire others who are in a similar situation like him.
Kid: Did people start treating him well?
Me: Some did and some didn’t, but he continued to fight it out. He was not to afraid to stand up for himself or for anyone else who was not given the privileges or having equal opportunities.
Kid: What did he do?

Me: For e.g. Rohit organized beef eating festival when people eating beef were being attacked for eating, he did it to say eating habits cannot be forced upon anyone. Like you don’t eat chicken but I do. But I never force you to eat chicken nor do you ask me to eat chicken
Kid: Yes, It’s my choice not to eat chicken
Me: Right. So that’s the story of Rohit. He stood up for what he believed in and always in support of those who were treated poorly and discriminated
Kid: Is Rohit still alive?

Me: (Wasn’t expecting this question). Yes he is very much alive
Kid: Where does he live now?
Me: Well, he is everywhere
Kid: What do you mean?
Me: He lives in everyone’s heart and has inspired many people to take up the fight for those who are looked down up and treated poorly because of their caste.

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