Tag Archives: shame

“Dirty” Work

And though [Bakha’s] job was dirty he remained comparatively clean…’A bit superior to his job,’ they always said, ‘not the kind of man who ought to be doing this.’ For he looked intelligent, even sensitive, with a sort of dignity that does not belong to the ordinary scavenger, who is as a rule uncouth and unclean.

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, (New York: Penguin Books, 1940), 16.

Notes: Irony. Apparently, you can have dignity while holding the job of sweeping latrines. It is unfortunate that people will make judgments based on the jobs people have and what caste they are in. Also unfortunate that some people are referred to as “scavengers.” It is unfortunate that he is seen as an exception to a rule simply because he does not seem Indian. It is unfortunate that he feels he should separate himself from his Indianness.


They were, however, sahibs. Whatever they did was ‘fashun.’ But his own countrymen – they were natus (natives)… And he recalled the familiar sight of all those naked Hindu men and women who could be seen squatting in the open, outside the city, every morning. ‘So shameless,’ he thought; ‘they don’t seem to care who looks at them, sitting there like that. It is on account of that that the goras white men call them kala log zamin par hagne wala (black man, you who relieve yourself on the ground). Why don’t they come here?’

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin, 1935, 18.

Notes: Bahka is ashamed of his own countrymen’s nakedness when he sees them through the eyes of the Englishmen. His “enlightenment” is similar to that of Adam and Eve’s in the Bible. Once they ate the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil, they became ashamed of their own nakedness. Likewise, Bahka indulges in English culture and, thus, begins to see his own culture differently.