The term ‘Dalit’ refers to the people of India who are outside the pale of the hierarchal caste system, and, therefore deemed outcastes and a Dalit Woman’s life is the most unprotected and insecure in Indian Society. They suffer on three counts – caste, gender and patriarchy. But, after centuries of suppression, Dalits are now finding their voice, in literature as well as through political activism. Dalit autobiographies, where the routinized violence of everyday existence are described, may be treated as testimonies, as they are eye- witness accounts of atrocity, and document trauma as well as strategies of survival. They claim the right to speak for as well as beyond the individual, and contests explicitly or implicitly the ‘official…show more content… a narrative... told in the first person by a narrator who is also the reap protagonist or witness of the events he or she recounts..... The situation of narration in testimonio has to involve an urgency to communicate, a problem of repression, poverty, subalternity, imprisonment, struggle for survival, and so on, implicated in the act of narration itself (65).
Here the aim of the narrator is merely not to achieve literariness, but even more so to communicate the pain, struggle, oppression and angst as well as spirit and agency of the members of the community. The writers experience their ordinary selves not as a unified whole which is in harmony with its surroundings but in a constant state of conflict with the power structures established by the caste hierarchy. Since testimonio has emerged as important document of subaltern struggle for existence, it has been aptly viewed as an answer to the pertinent question that Spivak raised – Can the Subaltern Speak? The subaltern, when they speak, speak in testimonies. The testimonio is the voice of one who witnesses for the sake of an ‘other’, who remains voiceless. The speaking subaltern subject of the narrative gives voice to the lived experiences of herself and of those who are victims of multiple marginalizations. Here, the narrator stands in for the whole social group. Unlike autobiography where the narrator is a person of some social status, testimonio is about the common man or woman, but the…show more content… These writings proceed from a lived experience of poverty, violence, rejection and suffering. They reveal the structure of the traumatic experience while also gesturing at the ways in which the victims have fought, overcome, and survived the event. These narratives challenge the bourgeois genre of autobiography and pull at the boundaries of what are considered the parameters of the life-world. Rather than searching for plurality of reasons and plurality of ‘notions of female subject’, Dalit women’s testimonies display an older or a more traditional kind of narrative where one is able to discern a form of confession “offering to its readership an intimate and frequently painful experience which was also seen as a part of a progressive revelation to the self and others of women’s fate under patriarchy and that need for change” (Anderson 121). As subjects of historically and culturally specific understandings of memory, experience, embodiment and identity, narrators of such texts both reproduce the cultural modes of self narrating and critique the limits of these modes and in doing so they create new generic possibilities and invite different ways of being