Goodbye Ilavarasan

Dear Ilavarasan

I know you are not in a position to read this post. How could you, as you’ve just been buried this afternoon. We still don’t know whether your death is suicide or murder. Your body was dug up again by a team of AIIMS doctors to determine this and we’ll know its results in a few days. In a large scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is you are no more. We have read the stories of Romeo, Majnu and other tragedies, which told us that love can obsess you so powerfully that it can take your life. But those epic love stories like Laila & Majnu had happened in the past and Romeo & Juliet were fictional. We really didn’t have any modern stories to prove that theory. Yours will serve as the modern testimony to that theory. I’m sure some film-maker is already working on your story.

Aside from serving as the modern symbol of unrequited love, you will serve as the icon for the Dalit Resurgence. You were not a leader. You were not Ambedkar or Periyaar. Yet you inspired enough people to talk about the cause of Dalit empowerment. You are yet another proof that one needn’t be a leader to inspire people. In this respect, you were the Rosa Parks of Dalit Awakening. In one single defiant act of refusing to vacate her seat in the bus, Parks kindled the pride of all American blacks and awakened the conscience of millions of American whites. In your single act of falling in love with a caste Hindu girl and then dying for it, you have kindled the self-esteem of millions of Dalits and awakened the conscience of millions of caste Hindus. Today I, one of the caste Hindus, hang my head in shame, for you’re lying in your grave because of my arrogance, my apathy, my chauvinism and my perceived superficiality. Through your death, you’ve humbled all of us in one stroke. I hope even the hard-headed, chauvinistic, cunning and exploitative Doctor Ayya is feeling some bit of guilt. The fact that he hasn’t so far come up with any statement gives me hope. If he has any bit of humanity left in him, he would continue to keep quiet. Or perhaps he is like Lord Voldemort, the dark lord in Harry Potter, who cannot tolerate love and is at peace because he has smelt death!

In my humility, I express hope that you deliver for your people what Parks delivered for her race. I hope your death is a starting point for a renewed Civil Rights Movement for all the Dalits in India. I hope this movement destroys the hopes and ambitions of all the irreverent demons who masquerade as political leaders. Dalits had a great leader in the form of Ambedkar who believed that they can be uplifted through education, because he himself was a highly educated Dalit. Similarly, I hope all Dalits learn to love, express compassion in the face of oppression and tyranny, because another of their icon died for love.

You’ve left the battle, but it has just started. We will carry on fighting, not through weapons, but through love. In the end, Lord Voldemort was vanquished by the people who believed in love. We too will spread enough love to vanquish the Dark Lords of casteism.

Rest in peace Ilavarasan.