In a way that is perhaps unprecedented, today, a very large number of Malayalis feel connected to each other by a veritable tsunami of pain. No wonder perhaps, because the veils of our complacency have been ripped off too thoroughly. The immediate context is the gruesome murder of a young Dalit student in central Kerala, in the tiny, rickety squatter-shack that was her home, in full daylight.
At a single stroke, the incident fully exposed the dimensions of social exclusion in contemporary Kerala. Hers was an all-woman family among families deemed ‘properly gendered’, they were lower caste people trapped and isolated among upper and middle caste families, they were the working-class poor without property in an area full of propertied domestic-oriented bourgeois and petty-bourgeois families. Oppressed in all these ways, they were invisible to the state and the political parties. They possessed no form of capital that would have allowed them upward mobility. Yet, the young woman struggled on and reached the law college.
‘But she went to college’, some ask, ‘how could she have been so helpless?’
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