Harold Jaffe

Country: United States
Language(s): English

They are blackened. Barefoot. Thin as reeds.
Your untouchables.
—You are not Hindu. You know nothing.

I see them clean your privies, quarry rocks, balance the burning upper-caste
corpse on the bier with long bamboo poles.
—You imagine seeing. You are not Hindu. You see nothing.

Near the burning ghat, the shrunken untouchable woman folded like a child on
the pocked stone, eyes closed, her blackened child’s arm extended clasping the
small tin pail for alms.
—You are a sentimentalist. You impose your imaginings.

Your Hindu devotion is an opiate.
The rupees you spend on festivals to Lord Shiva and to your promiscuous boy-
god Kishna should be distributed to the untouchables.
The rupees you spend on savaging trees for your high-caste cremations into the
Ganges should be distributed to your untouchables.
—You are perilously close to blasphemy. Step back.

You take refuge behind the alleged mysteries of Hinduism.
There is no mystery about untouchable children born tormented.
That cruelty cannot be obscured, relativized, buried in Hindu sacrament.
—You are non-Hindu. You see with uncleansed eyes.

You conveniently confuse your religious laws, designed to promote your own
high-caste interests, with justice to the imposed, invisible underclass.
—Not at all. You are not Gulliver among the Yahoos. You are a do-gooder non-
Hindu dabbler in a culture you cannot comprehend.

Liberation, nirvana, moksha.
How do you attain liberation from samsara in a culture predicated on slavery?
—You make a privileged tourist’s observation. You are incapable of seeing with
the spirit-eye.

Your untouchable suffers silently.
He services you almost ceaselessly.
When he doesn’t service you he is invisible.
If he protests you efface him.
These are humans not vermin.
—You are blaspheming. You are a privileged caucasian do-gooder, but you are
not outside the law.

Apprehend me.
Put me in chains.
—You are an egotist with a martyr’s complex.
Your expressed willingness to sacrifice has to do with yourself not with so-called
Joan of Arc is a western not a Hindu conceit.