From Jail to Literature, an exceptional Journey

By Joydeep Das Gupta

An extraordinary journey of an ordinary man. Manoranjan Byapari is recently invited to be a part of Jaipur Literary Festival for his book Itibritto Chandal Jibon (Interrogating My Chandal Life (English). The book become so popular that so far 25,000 copies sold after the publication. The book is a collection of real life experiences of Manoranjan Byapari, which in the course of time has evolved him with wisdom and learning.

The real discovery of the self, happened, when because of a minor crime he has been lodged in a Jail, there he learned to write on the floor of the jail, the authorities realised the pain in his expression in the form of words. Soon he was allowed reading and writing in the jail, this was the beginning. Manoranjan while describing with glittering eyes says, “in the corner of the jail I was connected to the world through books”. Books are wonderful creation of man on earth.

Out of Jail, he started his living by pulling rickshaw, but his main fodder by then has become books and wisdom. His never-ending love for book continued. Once while pulling rickshaw he chanced upon getting a lady Professor as his customer near Jyotishroy College in Kolkata and in the course of journey, the conversation continued, the Professor was impressed with the wisdom of this ordinary rickshaw puller and called him to her home. The Professor was acclaimed author and social activist Mahasweta Devi.

She became his inspiration, who encouraged him to write. His first article was edited by her and published in Jugantar, was an instant hit. Manoranjan become a known writer by then. It is when he realised that he also can write and can pen a book that is how the journey as a writer begins.

Coming to India from Bangladesh and surviving in a society, where there exists a sharp difference of high class and low class people. In each and every steps of his life he learnt and experienced this sharp division, which made him an author by accident, as his writing are the real representation of the one pain which one came across as a human being from lower side of the society.

While speaking to News Sense, Manoranjan Byapari said, “The fight is between the lower and higher class. There are many Dalits who are on the higher side and use the Dalit name for their selfish benefits, they cannot really represent dalits, I believe, because now they cannot understand the hunger and pain ”.

Manoranjan Byapari, 60 still earns his living by cooking at a deaf and dump school as cook, where he cooks food for 150 children every day and rest of the time engaged himself in reading and writing his pains. Though he says he can teach Jail inmates and write more “As age is taking toll of this body, I want to help government by teaching jail inmates, by making them understand, how they also can change their life like me and I want write more as I have many things to say, I need help from people and government to look after me financially, as it becomes difficult to work hard with the frail body now.”