“Dad, Whats our caste?” asked my little princess as she got in the car. I was taken aback.
“What did you ask?”
“What is our caste dad?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“No, they asked me in school.”
“Oh dear. I came 9000 miles away and am sending you school so that you will not be touched by this caste, religion and creed stuff. It is sad to see it is catching up so fast. Why does your school wants to know which caste you belong to?”
“Daddy, we are learning about the caste structure in India in our history classes. My teacher knows that I am an Indian. So I was asked to tell my caste”
“Oh! I was afraid if the segmentation has come to schools in the USA as well”
“Now tell me”
“Just tell them you don’t believe in caste and stuff.”
“At least tell me what caste mean”
“I honestly don’t know dear”
“How do you determine one’s caste?”
“Our teacher said the caste is determined by the work they do. Is that true?”
“We can’t be sure”
“She said the barber belongs to one caste, the carpenter to another and business people belong to a different caste. She said that is how they determine the caste”
“I am not sure. But I know this. It is very cheap and silly to segment people based on their caste. Just let them know my concern”
“Will you or will you not tell your caste?”
“Can I ask mother?”
“No. That would be a mistake. She is a Tamil from Yazhpanam. They are really short tempered”
“Is that a caste too?”
“No, it is a race”
“I am totally confused”
Next day, after school she got into the car...
“We had a skit today in school based on the caste. They asked us to choose a caste ourselves and each one can be of a caste”
“Oh,” I said uninterested.
“Can you guess my caste?
“Dear, We do not talk about caste even if it is for a game”
“Chill Dad. It was just a skit”
“There are thousands of things one can learn from India. All they chose was caste”
“Listen. There was a big fight while selecting the caste”
“No surprise there dear. When caste intervenes, fights follow. But what was the fight about?”
“We needed four boys to pick the caste of Untouchables”
“Nobody volunteered, is it?”
“No, all 40 boys wanted to be untouchables”
I resisted the urge to slam the brake and listen to the whole story. “But why?”
“They all wanted to be untouchables. They are so unique and strong. Nobody will be able to touch them or mess with them, they are like some kind of Superman".
I smiled. I never thought untouchables in that way.