Untouchable Spring, a memory text, is a family/community saga, a novel and a historical document rolled into one. Using the oral story-telling tradition, Rao has brought to the fore not just the social and cultural life of generations of Dalits, but their art forms. Through the stories of successive generations, we are taken on a journey to their heart—from those who were exploited to those who discover their humanity through defiance. The reminiscences of Ruth take us to her husband Reuben’s family in Yennela Dinni, to the boy Yellanna, his being chased away by his caste ‘superiors’, his music, his son Sivaiah’s escape from the drought along with his wife, the latter’s conversion to Christianity, the brutality against him and other Dalit Christians, the birth of Reuben when things seem to fall apart and he is later left in an orphanage, and then to Reuben’s search for his roots. This faithful translation from the Telugu, arousing pity for all that is pitiable and rage at what man has done to man, points to the growing awareness of people’s rights and how they are driven to armed struggle.
Kalyana Rao believes in the revolutionary ideology, is an important functionary of Virasam, Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Movement) and a Dalit. He began his career as a playwright and wrote around fifteen plays, significant among them being Tolipoddu, Satire and Lockup. His work Antarani Vasantam(2000), on which this translation is based, is a contribution to the growing body of Dalit writing. He is writing a sequel to that book.
Alladi Uma and M. Sridhar teach English at the University of Hyderabad. Their translated works include Ayoni and Other Stories,Rachakonda Viswantha Sastry’s Beware, the Cows are Coming!(novel),K. Siva Reddy’s Mohana! Oh, Mohana!(volume of poems) andAllam Rajaiah’s Bhoomi(a collection of short stories).