was born Faustina Mary Fatima Rani
in 1958. Her ancestors were landless
labourers in Puthupatti village in Tamil
Nadu, India. To escape the stigma attached
with being Dalit, her grandfather
converted to Christianity. At 26, Bama had
taken vows to enter the convent in her zeal
to serve her people. Less than a decade
later, she left the convent to seek an
independent life. Struggling to find her
feet, she was encouraged to write her memoirs
by a friend. Published in 1992, Bama's
was a major literary milestone; for the first
time in the history of Tamil literature a
Dalit woman was speaking in her own voice
about the experience of being Dalit.
the Crossword Prize for the best translated text
Bama's next novel (1994), deals with the strategies
of resistance of Dalit women, and the English
translation of Kisumbukkaran:
A Collection of Short Stories
(Women Unlimited, 2006) could aptly be termed 'subaltern literature'
for the subversive manner in which it relates vignettes of the lives
of Dalit men and women.