An upper caste male’s poem on Rohith Vemula

On Sunday, 17th January 2016, Rohith C. Vemula, PhD student at the UoH, was institutionally murdered. His last note reads:

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of star dust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.

My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

May be I was wrong, all the while, in understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life. All the while, some people, for them, life itself is curse. My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

You can read the full text of his letters at the link “

This institutional murder of Rohith Vemula shook the entire country and finally led us to accept  “Caste is not a Rumour”, which is also the title of his posthumous book, a collection of his facebook posts. And by our failure to grab the political potentiality generated by the incident, we have set up a dangerous precedent, the reduction of institutional murder into the two-line news. This is not only our failure as a society but a great injustice to the memories of Rohith too.

The poem below came to me a late night when I was reading Rohith’s suicide note:

4:15 hrs, 11th May 2017,

T-2, Vasudha Apartment, 4/9 Baba Laturiya Marg

Kishangarh, Vasant Kunj Sec-A, New Delhi-110070


An upper caste male’s poem on Rohith Vemula

Rohith Vemula,

I tried to write a poem for you.

I tried to write a poem for you.

I couldn’t..

I couldn’t find the pain,

I struggled for words

I never had the stardust,

Never did I even did love.

Even if I try,

There wouldn’t be a suitable verse,

Which can do justice to your memories.

Only a dalit,

Or a woman,


Or a construction worker,

Or those who live near sewers,

Can write for you.

Oppressor and oppressed,

Don’t have the same vocabulary.

– Ashu

रोहित वेमुला पर एक सवर्ण पुरुष की कविता

रोहित वेमुला,

मैंने तुम्हारे लिए एक कविता लिखनी चाही थी,

न लिख पाया।

न समझ पाया मैं दर्द को,

शब्दों के लिए संघर्ष करता रहा।

मैं अपने स्टारडस्ट को कभी महसूस नहीं कर पाया,

मैं तो कभी प्यार भी न कर पाया।

यदि मैं कोशिश भी कर लूँ,

फिर भी लिख न पाऊँ एक छंद

जो इंसाफ कर सके तुम्हारी यादों के साथ।

सिर्फ एक दलित,

या शायद एक महिला,

नहीं तो एल०जी०बी०टी०क्यू०,

या फिर एक कंस्ट्रक्शन मजदूर,

या नालियों किनारे रहने वाले,

लिख पाएंगे तुम्हारे लिए।

शोषित और शोषक,

की भाषाएँ अलग होतीं हैं।

– आशु

Survival for Survivors

19.15 hrs,

Central Secretariat Metro Station,

1 May 2017

Sadness, is a very private emotion to oneself. One can share happiness with so many people, celebrate them. But sadness, melancholia is very private. If someone is sharing his/her sadness with you, think of the amount of trust and intimacy he/she has placed in you.

Now, imagine that trust broken. Intimacy seeped out to some hollow insensitive, emotionless being who not only uses it manipulate you at times but to dominate you, censor even your sadness. Well, this may not only be tragic but also, it crushes your ability to bond.

It challenges your vulnerability and tries to turn your heart to shut down the feelings. It transforms love to hate. Makes the population despicable. But, what should one do to save his/her soul. How should one save oneself from turning into heartless bastard? How should one stay sensitive?

I vividly remember a quote “It takes courage to stay sensitive in this cruel world.” But how does one gather so much courage to stay so sensitive?

Alain Badiou, in his book “In praise of love”, talks about collective love being precursor to stay courageous and sensitive, like a communist revolutionary. But, therein lies the paradox. How does​ one believe in collective love when one doesn’t have trust in people. Not only one has lost trust but despises the population.

My point, therefore is that, there is no formula to love, whether collective or individual. One has to take the gamble and wait till all is gained or lost. And like gambling, the chances of losing are higher. One has to take the bet. One has to exhaust himself in love. And needless to say, this is a very painful process and only who can endure can keep the struggle going.

Thus sadness after all is a struggle, a struggle to find one’s self endurance. One who can endure is here to stay!

“Survival for the survivors!”

-Ashu Thakur

Edited by Partho