I come from the highest caste of Brahmins in India. India has always been a caste-based society, historically divided into Brahmins (the priests), Kshatriyas (the warriors), Vaishyes (the traders) and Shoodraas (the untouchables). Growing up, I saw the sweepers’ families come in every morning to clean our household latrines, as it was considered a ‘dirty’ chore for my family members. These latrines were outside our main house, so that the sweeper and his family didn’t have to enter or see our main living space.
I was adopted and brought up by a grandparent who abhorred this practice. He cleaned his