Disclaimer : This is NOT A book review. This is just a collection of my thoughts while/after reading the book. It is more on how I felt connected/disconnected, happy/sad, satisfied/dis-satisfied .
Anyhow, I grabbed a copy of Aravind Adiga’s Man Booker Prize winner book, The White Tiger, from a friend. I’d been wondering what the fuss about him was all about. So I settled with the book and started.
And I was hooked.
This guy blew me away with his story, the premise, the flow, the characters….you name it, he had it in there. The macabre humour hidden in the plight of the downtrodden, which is at once funny and yet, deeply painful!!
The White Tiger, is more than just a masterpiece in literature. It is a mirror, the one into which we’d rather not look, because it shows us our ugly side, the spotlights turned full focus on the murk
With Dad in the Army, I had a chance to visit most parts of the country. Though I learned a lot about the different cultures, I can hardly claim to have in-depth knowledge on how exactly the people live.
And it came as a shock to realize that Adiga, a South Indian, could lay bare the everyday life of the common man in North India. The entire book was so gripping that even when I was not reading it, I was thinking about it. And that is what makes it deserving of all its adulation. That it touches one deep enough to evoke the kind of response, which can be best described as, addiction. Even after the book got over, I was craving for more .Almost as if I didn’t want it to end.
As usual, I rate a book on its narration power and Aravind Adiga scores real high on that front (Ok, maybe not as much as Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, but still, he’s up there alright ).
Here are a few excerpts from the book. These are by far, some of the best lines I’ve read :-
“A rich man’s body is like a premium cotton pillow, white and soft and blank. Ours are different. My father’s spine was a knotted rope, the kind that women use in villages to pull water from wells; the clavicle curved around his neck in high relief, like a dog’s collar; cuts and nicks and scars, like little whip marks in his flesh, ran down his chest and waist, reaching down below his hip bones into his buttocks. The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a sharp pen.”
“At the end of the market is a tall, whitewashed, cone like tower, with black intertwining snakes painted on all its sides—the temple. Inside, you will find an image of a saffron-colored creature, half man half monkey: this is Hanuman, everyone’s favorite god in the Darkness. Do you know about Hanuman, sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love, and devotion.These are the kinds of gods they have foisted on us, Mr. Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India.”
“Now I have to tell you about this magazine, Murder Weekly, since our prime minister certainly won’t tell you anything about it…………………….Just because drivers and cooks in Delhi are reading Murder Weekly, it doesn’t mean that they are all about to slit their masters’ necks. Of course, they’d like to. Of course, a billion servants are secretly fantasizing about strangling their bosses—and that’s why the government of India publishes this magazine and sells it on the streets for just four and a half rupees so that even the poor can buy it. You see, the murderer in the magazine is so mentally disturbed and sexually deranged that not one reader would want to be like him—and in the end he always gets caught by some honest, hardworking police officer (ha!), or goes mad and hangs himself by a bedsheet after writing a sentimental letter to his mother or primary school teacher, or is chased, beaten, buggered, and garroted by the brother of the woman he has done in. So if your driver is busy flicking through the pages of Murder Weekly, relax. No danger to you. Quite the contrary.It’s when your driver starts to read about Gandhi and the Buddha that it’s time to wet your pants, Mr. Jiabao.”
“they say the air is so bad in Delhi that it takes ten years out of a man’s life. Of course, those in the cars don’t have to breathe the outside air—it is just nice, cool, clean, air-conditioned air for us. With their tinted windows up, the cars of the rich go like dark eggs down the roads of Delhi. Every now and then an egg will crack open—a woman’s hand, dazzling with gold bangles, stretches out an open window, flings an empty mineral water bottle onto the road—and then the window goes up, and the egg is resealed.”
“Do we loathe our masters behind a facade of love—or do we love them behind a facade of loathing?”
“The way I had rushed to press Mr. Ashok’s feet, the moment I saw them, even though he hadn’t asked me to! Why did I feel that I had to go close to his feet, touch them and press them and make them feel good—why? Because the desire to be a servant had been bred into me: hammered into my skull, nail after nail, and poured into my blood, the way sewage and industrial poison are poured into Mother Ganga.”
And only two destinies: eat—or get eaten up.”
“I heard about it the next day, while pretending to scratch a dirty spot out of a tabletop. Vijay and a policeman had knocked the rickshaw-puller down, and they had begun beating him; they hit him with their sticks, and when he thrashed at them they kicked him. They took turns. Vijay hit him and the policeman stamped on his face and then Vijay did it again. And after a while the body of the rickshaw-puller stopped wriggling and fighting back, but they kept stamping on him, until he had been stamped back into the earth. If I may go back for a moment to that WANTED poster, Your Excellency. Being called a murderer: fine, I have no objection to that. It’s a fact: I am a sinner, a fallen human. But to be called a murderer by the police! What a fucking joke.”
So if you haven’t read the book already, do so.
It’s a MUST read !!