A friend’s thoughts.
Palkars. That’s how they proudly call themselves. They are a Hindu community from Saurashtra that migrated to Tamil Nadu before independence. These people trace their origins to Gujarat.
There are a lot of stories detailing why they migrated. Some say they did so in search of work; others say it was because of famine and poverty. The caste system that has divided our country dates back to many years. The Palkars are also very much a part of it. They are a well-educated community. They have proved their skills in a variety of fields.
But unfortunately, these amazing people have very backward thoughts when it comes to caste. Caste is a matter of pride for them. People who live within their caste (no matter how successful they are) and who sacrifice everything just to get a good name from other members of their community (whose prime job is to see that no one forgets their caste) are worshiped. It brings a lot happiness to the members of this community to see themselves united in this thought. But when it comes to individuals, they have to adhere to certain rules to be a part of this wonderful caste group.
Girls being educated is a key point of disagreement between members of the society. Parents don’t usually encourage their girls to pursue further education after a basic college degree. This usually happens because they don’t want their daughters to be more educated than the men in the society. The same male chauvinistic mindset that prevails among our many societies plays a part here as well.
Marriage is another path people of this community hate diverging from. You can love anyone, but you have to get married with someone from within the same caste. In spite of being educated, they always stick to their age-old norms that you should spend your entire life within the community. Even if some parents are open-minded enough to accept what their kids want, there are others who are always ready to make sure your parents go through hell.
It doesn’t matter who your girl likes – whether they are good or not, they don’t really care. Apparently, they live with the belief that people will respect us if we live among ourselves. They don’t have any problem if you love someone from the caste – no matter how horrible they may be, you are an angel for loving someone within your caste. It does not matter the tiniest bit whether the person you love will be with you through thick and thin. If they belong to a different caste, they are as good as dead to the community.
Any person in their community who is open minded doesn’t have a say in their life decisions. There is no point to being educated if people still stick to the thought that caste will decide your life. Caste is created by humans. Doing something just because you are born in a particular caste is nothing but slavery. I have seen a lot of people who have attained high positions in life, but still adhere to the regulations of their caste.
As a girl born in this caste, I have faced a lot. Unfortunately, I’m not like what they wanted me to be. I have never restricted myself to anything just because I’m a girl. Everyone has the right to education. After completing my bachelor’s in engineering, I wanted to study more. As expected, my parents told me that I could stop studying and start working because otherwise, I won’t find a guy with a backbone.
I love my parents a lot. They are very good people – except for this caste system. Yes, I love a guy from a differnet caste – and I told my parents about it. I want my parents to understand what my heart yearns for. But not surprisingly, the people from my caste have been tarnishing my image and have made my parents’ lives a living hell.
In their opinion, a girl shouldn’t stay unmarried. My question is, then why should I not get married to someone I like? The people they are worried about won’t stay with them throughout. If you start living for others, you can never be happy. Just because I’m is born in this caste which I hate, do I have to give up my dreams?
Family love is unconditional. Parents love their kids and kids love their parents no matter how they are. A family supports you in achieving your dreams. If a family sets certain rules for you and then love you only if you follow those rules, where does your individuality lie? How can you be truly happy?
The change starts from within yourself. If you wait for the world to change but don’t want to come out, how will you know whether the world is ready to accept you for who you are? When you clearly know that caste is wrong, why should you stick to it just for the sake of getting a good name from people who don’t really care about you?
It will not be easy to change these people. But it will be worth it. If we change, society will change. There’s only one life. Magic happens when you don’t give up, even if you want to. The universe always falls in love with the stubborn heart.