Memories of Childhood

The lesson addresses the issue of untouchability in India. The people of low caste have to face humiliation at every step. They are looked down upon by people of higher caste. If required, they have to carry a food packet with a string so as not to touch it. The girl fights against the evil of untouchability that afflicts her caste. By dint of her hard work and determination, she stands first in the class. In this way, she succeeds in attaining the status of equality and respectability in the society.

Memories of Childhood’ contains autobiographical accounts of the lives of two women writers, Zitkala-Sa and Bama, belonging to marginalized communities. Both of them narrate their childhood experiences. The first account is given by an American Indian woman belonging to late nineteenth century while the second one is by a Tamil Dalit writer.

Zitkala-Sa in ‘The Cutting of My Long Hair’ vividly describes how her long and beautiful hair was forcibly cut during her childhood. She tells us how she was once mercilessly dragged out. She had expressed her resistance by kicking wildly and scratching her tormentors, but all in vain. She was tied to a chair and, finally, she had to bear the brunt of their inhuman behaviour. She says that no one came to help her and not a soul consoled her.

Bama in ‘We Too Are Human Beings’ writes how hopelessly Indian society is in the grip of the evil of untouchability. Belonging to a lower caste, she herself turned a victim of social injustice. She is extremely dismayed at the inhuman attitude of the ‘higher’ castes towards the ‘lower’ ones. She feels that the social barriers between the higher castes and the lower castes must be removed.

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