In February 2015, journalist Nikhila Henry met Rohith Vemula for the first time. In April that year they became Facebook friends. Between 2008 and 2016, when he killed himself, Vemula left behind prolific posts on Facebook, commenting on a range of issues, from caste to cow politcs, reading to romance, social justice to revolution.
Passionate, involved and intrepid, these writings have been selected and edited by Henry and published as a book, #CasteIsNotARumour: The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula, by Juggernaut Books.
Here are some passages from the diary, reflecting on matters close to Vemula's heart, all of which should be just as important to every citizen of India, written in his inimitable voice: rebellious, compassionate, empathetic and hungry for justice.
July 23, 2015
State should not have the right to hang someone. Especially when the state is Brahmanical.
June 17, 2012
I'm against domestic violence. I've seen my mother's suffering and I would like to be a part of the change that has to come. Real manhood lies in making a woman want to be with you (instead of forcing her to).
March 26, 2014
Sometimes a small thought comes and challenges our sanity. What if I can time travel to my past? For someone with a slightly chagrined childhood and a tiresome teenage, this is a normal question. If only I had not met some people and watched naively as they drifted away! Would I start all over if I get another chance to go back to a time when the whole world seemed beautiful? The sun, moon, stars, skies, flowers and colours were not just mere spectators but participants in the celebration of my life, all through the season of love. Anyone in his good senses would have loved to relive those moments. Well, I didn't. I didn't like the thought of travelling back into my past life. Today I may be left with a bruised past but earlier I had completely nothing to remember. Today I sleep and wake up to disturbing dreams, but there were times, I had nothing to dream about. Today, I have hurting memories, I get bad dreams, I bleed blue and I get depressed but back in those days I was indifferent. I was unmoved. I was unloved and untested. How many times have you answered a tricky question posed by your messy brain with deceitful deep thoughts and circular logic...???!!!!!
Broken and Buried
May 25, 2013
When was the last time you met the demon inside you? The one which you always try hiding from society, from family, from any other person – that dark, strong, weird version of inner self. When was the last time it surpassed your social barriers and conquered your thoughts, acts and behaviour? When?!
March 22, 2014
Nationalism is nothing but a side effect of imagination. An excuse to accuse others. A reason to celebrate the defeat of the 'other' human being. We, the super animals, who can name things are the discoverers of this dangerous trend (called Nationalism) and we alone are victims of this disease. We need to build a universal human conscious[ness] unfettered by the rules of divisive ethnic backgrounds. I believe we can build a powerful future only on the principles of global citizenship.
May 25, 2015
The truth is the State is not a friend of the people. The sooner we get it, the better we can revolt.
July 5, 2013
My philosophy is simple. The two '-isms' I find absolutely stupid and highly manipulated: Religion and Nationalism; which are the best proved gateways for violence from ages.
The two behavioural traits I loathe: Greed and Social Exclusion; which are characteristic features of imperialism and hegemony.
The two things I would die to see around: Compassion and Conscience
The two most powerful forces in this world: Love and Nature
October 27, 2014
Not speaking about caste cannot eradicate caste. It just makes discrimination nameless!!! And our activism is not identity politics, it is a struggle for recognition. This activism is against the imposed and destructive identities given to us through your distorted history.
'If I speak, I am condemned.
If I stay silent, I am damned!'
December 12, 2015
[Following the murder of the fifth person in three months by the gau rakshaks, this time in Karnal, Haryana –Ed.]
People who believe that cows are their mothers and kill people who eat beef should immediately be declared a national threat and must be sent to rehabilitation asylums.
If any organized movement has claimed lives like these gau-dals, those organizations would have been declared terrorist sects by now.
Excerpted with permission from #CasteIsNotARumour: The Online Diary of Rohith Vemula, edited by Nikhila Henry, published by Juggernaut Books and available on the Juggernaut app.
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