The White Tiger A Novel Aravind Adiga Free Press New York London Toronto Sydney FREE PRESS A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Avenue of the. The White Tiger: A Novel. Home · The White Tiger: A Novel Author: Adiga Aravind. downloads Views KB White Tiger · Read more · White Tiger. The White Tiger is the debut novel of Indian author Aravind Adiga. The Two Faces Of Modern India In The Novel The White Tiger By Aravindadiga. Poor-Rich Divide in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.
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PDF | You love it; you hate it but you can't ignore it. Arvind Adiga in his Man Booker prize winning debut novel The White Tiger, portrays. PDF | Aravind Adiga's debut novel The White Tiger won the Booker Prize in The Booker Prize made him famous overnight and got an. Abstract: Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, which was awarded the. Man Booker Prize in , is singular in its fictionalized portrayal of the relationship between.
There were three others, and each had got his name from the peculiarities of appetite that had been detected in him. The Stork was a fat man with a fat mustache, thick and curved and pointy at the tips. He owned the river that flowed outside the village, and he took a cut of every catch of fish caught by every fisherman in the river, and a toll from every boatman who crossed the river to come to our village.
His brother was called the Wild Boar. This fellow owned all the good agricultural land around Laxmangarh. If you wanted to work on those lands, you had to bow down to his feet, and touch the dust under his slippers, and agree to swallow his day wages. When he passed by women, his car would stop; the windows would roll down to reveal his grin; two of his teeth, on either side of his nose, were long and curved, like little tusks.
The Raven owned the worst land, which was the dry, rocky hillside around the fort, and took a cut from the goatherds who went up there to graze with their flocks. If they didn't have their money, he liked to dip his beak into their backsides, so they called him the Raven. The Buffalo was greediest of the lot. He had eaten up the rickshaws and the roads.
So if you ran a rickshaw, or used the road, you had to pay him his feed—one-third of whatever you earned, no less. All four of the Animals lived in high-walled mansions just outside Laxmangarh—the landlords' quarters. They had their own temples inside the mansions, and their own wells and ponds, and did not need to come out into the village except to feed. Once upon a time, the children of the four Animals went around town in their own cars; Kusum remembered those days.
But after the Buffalo's son had been kidnapped by the Naxals—perhaps you've heard about them, Mr.
Jiabao, since they're Communists, just like you, and go around shooting rich people on principle—the four Animals had sent their sons and daughters away, to Dhanbad or to Delhi. Their children were gone, but the Animals stayed and fed on the village, and everything that grew in it, until there was nothing left for anyone else to feed on. So the rest of the village left Laxmangarh for food. Each year, all the men in the village waited in a big group outside the tea shop. When the buses came, they got on—packing the inside, hanging from the railings, climbing onto the roofs—and went to Gaya; there they went to the station and rushed into the trains—packing the inside, hanging from the railings, climbing onto the roofs—and went to Delhi, Calcutta, and Dhanbad to find work.
A month before the rains, the men came back from Dhanbad and Delhi and Calcutta, leaner, darker, angrier, but with money in their pockets. The women were waiting for them. They hid behind the door, and as soon as the men walked in, they pounced, like wildcats on a slab of flesh. There was fighting and wailing and shrieking. My uncles would resist, and managed to keep some of their money, but my father got peeled and skinned every time. The women would feed him after they fed the buffalo.
I would come to him, and play around with him, by climbing his back, and passing my palm over his forehead—over his eyes—over his nose—and down to his neck, to the little depression at the pit of his neck. I would let my finger linger there—it still is my favorite part of the human body.
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. My uncles also did backbreaking work, but they did what everyone else did. Each year, as soon as it began raining, they would go out to the fields with blackened sickles, begging one landlord or the other for some work. Then they cast seed, cut weeds, and harvested corn and paddy. My father could have worked with them; he could have worked with the landlords' mud, but he chose not to. He chose to fight it.
Now, since I doubt that you have rickshaw-pullers in China—or in any other civilized nation on earth—you will have to see one for yourself. Rickshaws are not allowed inside the posh parts of Delhi, where foreigners might see them and gape.
Insist on going to Old Delhi, or Nizamuddin— there you'll see the road full of them—thin, sticklike men, leaning forward from the seat of a bicycle, as they pedal along a carriage bearing a pyramid of middle-class flesh—some fat man with his fat wife and all their shopping bags and groceries. And when you see these stick-men, think of my father. Rickshaw-puller he may have been—a human beast of burden—but my father was a man with a plan.
I was his plan. One day he lost his temper at home and began yelling at the women. This was the day they told him that I had not been going to class. He did something he had never dared do before—he yelled at Kusum: Munna must read and write! She yelled back: He's a coward, and he eats too much.
Put him to work in the tea shop and let him make some money. I crawled behind my father's back as they told him the story of my cowardice. Now, you may find it incredible that a boy in a village would be frightened of a lizard.
Rats, snakes, monkeys, and mongooses don't bother me at all.
On the contrary—I love animals. But lizards…each time I see one, no matter how tiny, it's as if I turn into a girl. My blood freezes.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
There was a giant cupboard in my classroom, whose door was always slightly ajar—no one knew what it was there for. One morning, the door creaked open, and a lizard jumped out. It was light green in color, like a half-ripe guava. Its tongue flicked in and out of its mouth. It was at least two feet long. The other boys barely noticed. Until someone saw my face. They gathered in a circle around me. Two of them pinned my hands behind my back and held my head still.
Someone caught the thing in his hands, and began walking toward me with slow, exaggerated steps. Making no noise— only flicking its red tongue in and out of its mouth—the lizard came closer and closer to my face.
The laughter grew louder. I couldn't make a noise. The teacher was snoring at his desk behind me. The lizard's face came right up to my face; and then it opened its light green mouth, and then I fainted for the second time in my life. I had not gone back to school since that day. My father did not laugh when he heard the story. He took a deep breath; I felt his chest expanding against me. His mother told me he'd be the one who made it through school. His mother said—" "Oh, to hell with his mother!
Now listen to me: It was dawn; the place was empty. We pushed the door open. A dim blue light filled the classroom. Now, our schoolteacher was a big paan-and-spit man—and his expectorate made a sort of low, red wallpaper on three walls around us. When he went to sleep, which he usually did by noon, we stole paan from his pockets; distributed it amongst ourselves and chewed on it; and then, imitating his spitting style—hands on hips, back arched slightly—took turns spitting at the three dirty walls.
A faded mural of the Lord Buddha surrounded by deer and squirrels decorated the fourth wall— it was the only wall that the teacher spared. The giant lizard the color of a half-ripe guava was sitting in front of this wall, pretending to be one of the animals at the feet of the Lord Buddha.
It turned its head to us; I saw its eyes shine. Then it began banging the wall. It was no different from me; it was terrified. Near him was the pot of toddy he had emptied the previous night—my father picked it up. The lizard ran, and he ran behind it, swinging the pot of toddy at it. He kicked the cupboard, and the lizard darted out, and he chased it again, smashing everything in his way, and yelling, "Heeyaa!
He smashed its neck with his fist. He stamped on its head. The air became acrid: He picked the dead lizard up and flung it out the door. My father sat panting against the mural of the Lord Buddha surrounded by the gentle animals. When he caught his breath, he said, "My whole life, I have been treated like a donkey.
All I want is that one son of mine—at least one—should live like a man. I thought it meant being like Vijay, the bus conductor. The bus stopped for half an hour at Laxmangarh, and the passengers got off, and the conductor got down to have a cup of tea. Now, he was a man all of us who worked in that tea shop looked up to. We admired his bus-company-issue khaki uniform, his silver whistle and the red cord from which it hung down from his pocket. Everything about him said: Vijay's family were pigherds, which meant they were the lowest of the low, yet he had made it up in life.
Somehow he had befriended a politician. People said he had let the politician dip his beak in his backside. Whatever he had to do, he had done: Now he had a job, and a silver whistle, and when he blew it—just as the bus was leaving—all the boys in the village went crazy and ran after the bus, and banged on its sides, and begged to be taken along too.
Two a. I'll have to stop for tonight fairly soon. Let me put my finger on the laptop screen, and see if there is any other useful information here. Ashok, used to do all his late-night drinking there. There's a restaurant in the basement that's supposed to be very good. You should visit it if you get the chance.
The missing man was employed as driver of a Honda City vehicle at the time of the alleged incident. In this regard a case, FIR No. Dhaula Kuan, Delhi, has been registered. He is also believed to be in possession of a bag filled with a certain quantity of cash. Red bag, they should have said. Without the color, the information is all but useless, isn't it? No wonder I was never spotted. Certain quantity of cash. Open any newspaper in this country, and it's always this crap: Seven hundred thousand rupees.
That was how much cash was stuffed into the red bag. And trust me, the police knew it too. How much this is in Chinese money, I don't know, Mr. But it downloads ten silver Macintosh laptops from Singapore. There's no mention of my school in the poster, sir—that's a real shame. You always ought to talk about a man's education when describing him.
They should have said something like, The suspect was educated in a school with two-foot-long lizards the color of half-ripe guavas hiding in its cupboards… If the Indian village is a paradise, then the school is a paradise within a paradise. There was supposed to be free food at my school—a government program gave every boy three rotis, yellow daal, and pickles at lunchtime. But we never ever saw rotis, or yellow daal, or pickles, and everyone knew why: The teacher had a legitimate excuse to steal the money—he said he hadn't been paid his salary in six months.
He was going to undertake a Gandhian protest to retrieve his missing wages—he was going to do nothing in class until his paycheck arrived in the mail. Once, a truck came into the school with uniforms that the government had sent for us; we never saw them, but a week later they turned up for sale in the neighboring village. No one blamed the schoolteacher for doing this. You can't expect a man in a dung heap to smell sweet. Every man in the village knew that he would have done the same in his position.
Some were even proud of him, for having got away with it so cleanly. One morning a man wearing the finest suit I had seen in my life, a blue safari suit that looked even more impressive than a bus conductor's uniform, came walking down the road that led to my school. We gathered at the door to stare at his suit.
He had a cane in his hand, which he began swishing when he saw us at the door. We rushed back into the class and sat down with our books. This was a surprise inspection.
The man in the blue safari suit—the inspector—pointed his cane at holes in the wall, or the red discolorations, while the teacher cowered by his side and said, "Sorry sir, sorry sir. How much money have you stolen from the school funds, you sister-fucker? He reads well. The Lord Buddha received his enlightenment in this land.
The River Ganga gives life to our plants and our animals and our people. We are grateful to God that we were born in this land. Thirty-six million and five—!
The inspector made me write my name on the blackboard; then he showed me his wristwatch and asked me to read the time. He took out his wallet, removed a small photo, and asked me, "Who is this man, who is the most important man in all our lives? And what is the Great Socialist's message for little children? That is his message to little children all over this land.
In any jungle, what is the rarest of animals— the creature that comes along only once in a generation? You need to go to a real school—somewhere far away from here. You need a real uniform, and a real education. I remember the title very well: So that's how I became the White Tiger. There will be a fourth and a fifth name too, but that's late in the story. Now, being praised by the school inspector in front of my teacher and fellow students, being called a "White Tiger," being given a book, and being promised a scholarship: My cousin-sister Reena got hitched off to a boy in the next village.
Because we were the girl's family, we were screwed. We had to give the boy a new bicycle, and cash, and a silver bracelet, and arrange for a big wedding—which we did. Premier, you probably know how we Indians enjoy our weddings—I gather that these days people come from other countries to get married Indian-style. Oh, we could have taught those foreigners a thing or two, I tell you! Film songs blasting out from a black tape recorder, and drinking and dancing all night!
I got smashed, and so did Kishan, and so did everyone in the family, and for all I know, they probably poured hooch into the water buffalo's trough. Two or three days passed. I was in my classroom, sitting at the back, with the black slate and chalk that my father had brought me from one of his trips to Dhanbad, working on the alphabet on my own.
The boys were chatting or fighting. The teacher had passed out. Kishan was standing in the doorway of the classroom. He gestured with his fingers. Are we going somewhere? And my chalk? And then, with his hand on my head, he led me out.
The family had taken a big loan from the Stork so they could have a lavish wedding and a lavish dowry for my cousin-sister.
Now the Stork had called in his loan. He wanted all the members of the family working for him and he had seen me in school, or his collector had. So they had to hand me over too. I was taken to the tea shop. Kishan folded his hands and bowed to the shopkeeper. I bowed to the shopkeeper too. He was sitting under a huge portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, and I knew already that I was going to be in big trouble.
I sat down next to him. He brought a gunnysack; inside was a huge pile of coals. He took out a coal, smashed it on a brick, and then poured the black chunks into the oven. He got up and said, "Now break every last coal in this bag like that. Then two more boys came; then two more. I heard giggling. And then all of them began to laugh. He took the largest piece of coal in his hand and squeezed it.
That happened after my cousin-sister Meera's wedding. That had been a big affair too. Smashing coals. Wiping tables. Bad news for me, you say? To break the law of his land—to turn bad news into good news—is the entrepreneur's prerogative. Tomorrow, Mr.
Jiabao, starting again at midnight I'll tell you how I gave myself a better education at the tea shop than I could have got at any school. Right now, though, it's time for me to stop staring at this chandelier and get to work. It is almost three in the morning. This is when Bangalore comes to life. The American workday is coming to an end, and mine is beginning in earnest. I have to be alert as all the call-center girls and boys are leaving their offices for their homes.
This is when I must be near the phone. I don't keep a cell phone, for obvious reasons—they corrode a man's brains, shrink his balls, and dry up his semen, as all of us know—so I have to stay in the office.
In case there is a crisis. I am the man people call when they have a crisis! Let's see quickly if there's anything else… …any person having any information or clue about this missing man may kindly inform at CBI Web site http: He could be half the men in India.
Premier, I leave you for tonight with a comment on the shortcomings of police work in India. Now, a busload of men in khaki—it was a sensational case, after all—must have gone to Laxmangarh when investigating my disappearance. They would have questioned the shopkeepers, bullied the rickshaw puller, and woken up the schoolteacher.
Did he steal as a child? Did he sleep with whores?
They would have smashed up a grocery shop or two, and forced out "confessions" from one or two people. Yet I bet you they missed the most important clue of all, which was right in front of them: I am talking of the Black Fort, of course.
I begged Kusum many times to take me to the top of the hill, and through the entranceway, and into the fort.
But she said I was a coward, I would die of fright if I went up there: So I could only watch. The long loopholes in its wall turned into lines of burning pink at sunrise and burning gold at sunset; the blue sky shone through the slits in the stone, while the moon shone on the jagged ramparts, and the monkeys ran wild along the walls, shrieking and attacking each other, as if they were the spirits of the dead warriors reincarnated, refighting their final battles.
I wanted to go up there too. Iqbal, who is one of the four best poets in the world—the others being Rumi, Mirza Ghalib, and a fourth fellow, also a Muslim, whose name I've forgotten—has written a poem where he says this about slaves: They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world. That's the truest thing anyone ever said. A great poet, this fellow Iqbal—even if he was a Muslim.
By the way, Mr. Have you noticed that all four of the greatest poets in the world are Muslim? And yet all the Muslims you meet are illiterate or covered head to toe in black burkas or looking for buildings to blow up? It's a puzzle, isn't it? If you ever figure these people out, send me an e-mail. Even as a boy I could see what was beautiful in the world: I was destined not to stay a slave. One day Kusum found out about me and the fort. She followed me all the way from our home to the pond with the stones, and saw what I was doing.
That night she told my father, "He just stood there gaping at the fort—just the way his mother used to. He is going to come to nothing good in life, I'll tell you that right now. I waded into the pond, got to the other side, and climbed up the hill; just as I was on the verge of going in, a black thing materialized in the entranceway.
I spun around and ran back down the hill, too frightened even to cry. It was only a cow. I could see this from a distance, but I was too shaken up to go back.
I tried many more times, yet I was such a coward that each time I tried to go up, I lost my nerve and came back. At the age of twenty-four, when I was living in Dhanbad and working in Mr. Ashok's service as a chauffeur, I returned to Laxmangarh when my master and his wife went there on an excursion. It was a very important trip for me, and one I hope to describe in greater detail when time permits.
For now, all I want to tell you is this: While Mr. Ashok and Pinky Madam were relaxing, having eaten lunch, I had nothing to do, so I decided to try again.
I swam through the pond, walked up the hill, went into the doorway, and entered the Black Fort for the first time. There wasn't much around—just some broken walls and a bunch of frightened monkeys watching me from a distance. Putting my foot on the wall, I looked down on the village from there. My little Laxmangarh. I saw the temple tower, the market, the glistening line of sewage, the landlords' mansions—and my own house, with that dark little cloud outside—the water buffalo.
It looked like the most beautiful sight on earth. I leaned out from the edge of the fort in the direction of my village—and then I did something too disgusting to describe to you. Well, actually, I spat.
Again and again. And then, whistling and humming, I went back down the hill. Eight months later, I slit Mr. Ashok's throat. The Second Night For the Desk of: His Midnight Educator On matters entrepreneurial: What does my laughter sound like? What do my armpits smell like? And when I grin, is it true—as you no doubt imagine by now—that my lips widen into a devil's rictus? Oh, I could go on and on about myself, sir. I could gloat that I am not just any murderer, but one who killed his own employer who is a kind of second father , and also contributed to the probable death of all his family members.
A virtual mass murderer. But I don't want to go on and on about myself. You should hear some of these Bangalore entrepreneurs—my start-up has got this contract with American Express, my start-up runs the software in this hospital in London, blah blah.
I hate that whole fucking Bangalore attitude, I tell you. But if you absolutely must find out more about me, just log on to my Web site: That's right!
That's the URL of my start-up! So I'm sick of talking about myself, sir. Tonight, I want to talk about the other important man in my story. My ex. Ashok's face reappears now in my mind's eye as it used to every day when I was in his service—reflected in my rearview mirror.
It was such a handsome face that sometimes I couldn't take my eyes off it. Picture a six-foot-tall fellow, broad-shouldered, with a landlord's powerful, punishing forearms; yet always gentle almost always—except for that time he punched Pinky Madam in the face and kind to those around him, even his servants and driver.
Now another face appears, to the side of his, in memory's mirror. Pinky Madam—his wife. Every bit as good-looking as her husband; just as the image of the goddess in the Birla Hindu Temple in New Delhi is as fair as the god to whom she is married. She would sit in the back, and the two of them would talk, and I would drive them wherever they wanted, as faithfully as the servant- god Hanuman carried about his master and mistress, Ram and Sita.
Thinking of Mr. Ashok is making me sentimental.
I hope I've got some paper napkins here somewhere. Here's a strange fact: You know more about him than his father and mother; they knew his fetus, but you know his corpse. Only you can complete the story of his life; only you know why his body has to be pushed into the fire before its time, and why his toes curl up and fight for another hour on earth.
Now, even though I killed him, you won't find me saying one bad thing about him. I protected his good name when I was his servant, and now that I am in a sense his master, I won't stop protecting his good name.
I owe him so much. He and Pinky Madam would sit in the back of the car, chatting about life, about India, about America—mixing Hindi and English together—and by eavesdropping on them, I learned a lot about life, India, and America—and a bit of English too. Perhaps a bit more than I've let on so far—! Many of my best ideas are, in fact, borrowed from my ex-employer or his brother or someone else whom I was driving about.
I confess, Mr.
I am not an original thinker—but I am an original listener. True, eventually Mr. Ashok and I had a disagreement or two about an English term—income tax—and things began to sour between us, but that messy stuff comes later on in the story. Right now we're still on best of terms: I came to Dhanbad after my father's death.
He had been ill for some time, but there is no hospital in Laxmangarh, although there are three different foundation stones for a hospital, laid by three different politicians before three different elections. When he began spitting blood that morning, Kishan and I took him by boat across the river. We kept washing his mouth with water from the river, but the water was so polluted that it made him spit more blood.
There was a rickshaw-puller on the other side of the river who recognized my father; he took the three of us for free to the government hospital. There were three black goats sitting on the steps to the large, faded white building; the stench of goat feces wafted out from the open door. The glass in most of the windows was broken; a cat was staring out at us from one cracked window. A sign on the gate said: There was no doctor in the hospital. The ward boy, after we bribed him ten rupees, said that a doctor might come in the evening.
The doors to the hospital's rooms were wide open; the beds had metal springs sticking out of them, and the cat began snarling at us the moment we stepped into the room. One of them had an open wound on his leg. He invited us to sit with him and his friend. Kishan and I lowered Father onto the newspaper sheets. We waited there. Two little girls came and sat down behind us; both of them had yellow eyes. She gave it to me. You gave it to me.
And now we'll both die! The Muslim men kept adding newspapers to the ground, and the line of diseased eyes, raw wounds, and delirious mouths kept growing.
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Now, each time this post falls vacant, the Great Socialist lets all the big doctors know that he's having an open auction for that post. The going rate for this post is about four hundred thousand rupees these days. There's good money in public service! Now, imagine that I'm a doctor. I beg and borrow the money and give it to the Great Socialist, while touching his feet.
He gives me the job. I take an oath to God and the Constitution of India and then I put my boots up on my desk in the state capital. I take out my big government ledger. I shout out, 'Dr. Ram Pandey. I saluted him: Ram Pandey—will kindly put one-third of your salary in my palm.
Good boy. In return, I do this. Forget the village. Because according to this ledger you've been there. You've treated my wounded leg. You've healed that girl's jaundice. Even the ward boys, who had gathered around us to listen, nodded their heads in appreciation. Stories of rottenness and corruption are always the best stories, aren't they?
When Kishan put some food into Father's mouth, he spat it out with blood. His lean black body began to convulse, spewing blood this way and that. The girls with the yellow eyes began to wail. The other patients moved away from my father. He's been coughing for a while, but we didn't know what it was. I've seen it before in rickshaw-pullers. They get weak from their work. Well, maybe the doctor will turn up in the evening.
Around six o'clock that day, as the government ledger no doubt accurately reported, my father was permanently cured of his tuberculosis. The ward boys made us clean up after Father before we could remove the body.
A goat came in and sniffed as we were mopping the blood off the floor. The ward boys petted her and fed her a plump carrot as we mopped our father's infected blood off the floor.
Kishan's marriage took place a month after the cremation. It was one of the good marriages. We had the boy, and we screwed the girl's family hard. I remember exactly what we got in dowry from the girl's side, and thinking about it even now makes my mouth fill up with water: After the wedding, Kusum Granny took the five thousand rupees and the Hero cycle and the thick gold necklace; Kishan got two weeks to dip his beak into his wife, and then he was packed off to Dhanbad. My cousin Dilip and I came along with him.
We three found work in a tea shop in Dhanbad—the owner had heard good things about Kishan's work at the tea shop in Laxmangarh. Luckily for us, he hadn't heard anything about me. Go to a tea shop anywhere along the Ganga, sir, and look at the men working in that tea shop— men, I say, but better to call them human spiders that go crawling in between and under the tables with rags in their hands, crushed humans in crushed uniforms, sluggish, unshaven, in their thirties or forties or fifties but still "boys.
I did my job with near total dishonesty, lack of dedication, and insincerity—and so the tea shop was a profoundly enriching experience. Instead of wiping out spots from tables and crushing coals for the oven, I used my time at the tea shop in Laxmangarh to spy on every customer at every table, and overhear everything they said. I decided that this was how I would keep my education going forward—that's the one good thing I'll say for myself. I've always been a big believer in education—especially my own.
The owner of the shop sat up at the front, below the big photo of Gandhi, stirring a slow-boiling broth of sugar syrup. He knew what I was up to! Whenever he saw me loafing around a table or pretending to be doing a spot of wiping just so I could hear more of a conversation, he would shout, "You thug!
The burning syrup singed me wherever the ladle touched, and left a series of spots on my ears which people sometimes mistake for vitiligo or another skin disease; a network of pink by which you can still identify me, although the police, predictably, missed it. Eventually I got sent home. No one else in Laxmangarh would hire me after that, even as a field hand. So it was mostly for my sake that Kishan and Dilip had come to Dhanbad—to give me a chance to start my career as a human spider afresh.
In his journey from village to city, from Laxmangarh to Delhi, the entrepreneur's path crosses any number of provincial towns that have the pollution and noise and traffic of a big city— without any hint of the true city's sense of history, planning, and grandeur.
Half-baked cities, built for half-baked men. There was money in the air in Dhanbad. I saw buildings with sides made entirely of glass, and men with gold in their teeth. And all this glass and gold—all of it came from the coal pits. Outside the town, there was coal, more coal than you would find anywhere else in the Darkness, maybe more coal than anywhere else in the world. Miners came to eat at my tea shop—I always gave them the best service, because they had the best tales to tell.
They said that the coal mines went on and on for miles and miles outside the town. In some places there were fires burning under the earth and sending smoke into the air—fires that had been burning continuously for a hundred years!
And it was at the tea shop in this city built by coal, while wiping a table and lingering to overhear a conversation, that my life changed.
What else can people like you and me become? One thousand seven hundred rupees a month! I ran to Kishan, who was cleaning out the insides of an oven. After my father's death, it was Kishan who took care of me. But he had no entrepreneurial spunk at all. He would have been happy to let me sink in the mud. It was going to cost me three hundred rupees to learn how to drive a car. Three hundred rupees! Today, in Bangalore, I can't get enough people for my business.
People come and people go. Good men never stay. I'm even thinking of advertising in the newspaper. Go to any pub or bar in Bangalore with your ears open and it's the same thing you hear: There are twenty, twenty-five pages of job advertisements in the newspaper every week.
Things are different in the Darkness. There, every morning, tens of thousands of young men sit in the tea shops, reading the newspaper, or lie on a charpoy humming a tune, or sit in their rooms talking to a photo of a film actress. They have no job to do today. They know they won't get any job today. They've given up the fight. They're the smart ones. The stupid ones have gathered in a field in the center of the town.
Every now and then a truck comes by, and all the men in the field rush to it with their hands outstretched, shouting, "Take me! Take me! They were off on some construction or digging job—the lucky bastards. Another half hour of waiting. Another truck came. Another scramble, another fight.
After the fifth or sixth fight of the day, I finally found myself at the head of the crowd, face-to-face with the truck driver. He was a Sikh, a man with a big blue turban. In one hand he held a wooden stick, and he swung the stick to drive back the crowd. I've got to see a man's nipples before I give him a job! Fuck off! I fell down, and others rushed to take my place. I sat on the ground, rubbed my ear, and watched the truck leave in a big cloud of dust. The shadow of an eagle passed over my body.
I burst into tears. There you are! Great news! Granny had agreed to let them invest in my driving classes. She wants you to swear by all the gods in heaven that you won't forget her once you get rich. An old man in a brown uniform, which was like an ancient army outfit, was smoking a hookah that was warmed up by a bowl of live coals.
Kishan explained the situation to him. The old driver asked, "What caste are you? You make sweets. How can you learn to drive? Mastering a car"—he moved the stick of an invisible gearbox—"it's like taming a wild stallion—only a boy from the warrior castes can manage that.
You need to have aggression in your blood. Muslims, Rajputs, Sikhs—they're fighters, they can become drivers. You think sweet-makers can last long in fourth gear? Three hundred rupees, plus a bonus, will do that.
We practiced in a taxi. Each time I made a mistake with the gears, he slapped me on the skull. You've got to become a driver. You've got to get the right attitude, understand? Anyone tries to overtake you on the road, do this"—he clenched his fist and shook it—"and call him a sister-fucker a few times.
The road is a jungle, get it? A good driver must roar to get ahead on it. I've got a reward for you.
It was evening. We went through dim streets and markets.
We walked for half an hour, while everything around us grew dark—and then it was as if we had stepped out into fireworks. The street was full of colored doors and colored windows, and in each door and each window, a woman was looking out at me with a big smile.
Ribbons of red paper and silver foil glittered between the rooftops of the street; tea was being boiled in stalls by the sides of the road. Four men rushed at us at once. The old driver explained that they should keep away, since it was my first time.
That's the best part of this game, isn't it—the looking! The old driver explained the nature of the wares on offer. Up in one building, sitting on a windowsill in such a way that we could see the full spread of their gleaming dark legs, were the "Americans": They were slim and athletic—for men who like the Western kind. In this corner, sitting in the threshold of an open house, the "traditionals"—fat, chunky types in saris, for those who like value for their money.
There were eunuchs in one window— teenagers in the next window.
The face of a small boy appeared from between a woman's legs and then vanished. A blinding flash of light: My first time! Half an hour later, when the old driver and I staggered back, drunk and happy, to his house, I put coals in his hookah.
I brought him the hookah and watched as he took a deep, contented suck on the pipe. Smoke came out of his nostrils. I've taught you to be a driver and a man—what more do you want?
I'll work for free at first. I need a job. How the fuck can I help you? Now get lost. Everyone said no. You didn't get a job that way. You had to know someone in the family to get a job.
Not by knocking on the gate and asking. There's no reward for entrepreneurship in most of India, Your Excellency. It's a sad fact. Every evening I came home tired and close to tears, but Kishan said, "Keep trying.
Someone will say yes in the end. Finally, after two weeks of asking and being told to get lost, I got to a house with ten-foot-high walls, and a cage of iron grilles around each window. A sly, slant-eyed Nepali with a white mustache peered at me through the bars of the gate. I've got four years' experience. My master recently died, so I—" "Fuck off.
We have a driver already," the Nepali said. He twirled a big bunch of keys and grinned. My heart sank, and I was about to turn away—when I saw a figure on the terrace, a fellow in long loose white clothes, walking around and around, lost deep in thought.
I swear by God, sir— I swear by all thirty-six million and four of them—the moment I saw his face, I knew: This is the master for me. Some dark fate had tied his lifeline to mine, because at that very moment he looked down. I knew he was coming down to save me. I just had to divert this Nepali fucker as long as possible.
I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't steal. Get lost, at once—" "I don't gossip about my masters, I don't steal, I don't blaspheme. But it was not the man on the terrace—it was an older man, with a big white mustache that was thick, and curved, and pointy at the tips. Begging for money. I am from Laxmangarh! The village near the Black Fort! Your village! He stared at me for the longest time, and then he told the Nepali guard, "Let the boy in. No Olympic runner could have gone in as fast as I did through those gates; the Nepali had no chance at all of blocking me.
You should have seen me that day—what a performance of wails and kisses and tears! The sense of economic distress that the underclass faces is succinctly exemplified in the life of Balram Halwai. His father did not want him to follow in his footsteps as a Rickshaw puller and thus had put him in a school.
He was presumably the brightest of all the students, despite studying in adverse conditions. He had also been promised a scholarship by the visiting school inspector but all this came to naught. A loan for marrying off his sister results in his unobtrusively dropping out of school to work in a tea shop breaking coal for the fire so that the debt could be paid in time. Education is thus a luxury that is snatched from him in childhood.
The misery of their lot is undeniably pathetic: Describing the boys working in the tea shop. The seasonal exodus to the cities in search of jobs is something that defines the villager.
The migration is primarily driven by distress when even subsistence living is denied the villager. As an entrepreneur, Balram sums up the class divide.
Each side is eternally trying to hoodwink the other side; and it has been this way since the start of time …. Honest servitude is the quintessence of the Rooster Coop. Balram explains that no Indian ever cheats or rebels his master not because he is honest: No.
But he is in the Rooster Coop. Never before in human history have so few owned so much to so many… A handful of men have trained the remaining Having made this grand analysis of the rationale for the subjugation of the poor by the rich, Balram offers to even give the reason for the continuance of the Coop. He suggests that in India a man is so bound to his family that his conscience does not allow him to put his family in danger in an attempt to break out of the coop. But Balram is the white tiger, the rarest of the rare.
He does not want to live in the coop forever. Therefore he turns a rebel. The transformation starts from his childhood. His life had been one long story of abysmal oppression that was provided by the circumstances beyond his control. Later, after his father dies he leaves for Dhanbad and works again in a tea shop there till he learns driving. It was this that changed his life and character.
In contact with his landlords and their servants, he understood that this was a jungle , where only the fittest survived. But the turning point of his life came when he was designated as the scapegoat who would take the blame for the killing of a slum dweller in an accident. It is this that awakened the rebel in him and he planned out the murder after Pinky left giving him thousands of rupees. His family is massacred in cold blood as revenge. But the White Tiger had won.
Balram Halwai had finally broken out of the coop. The only solution of suggested redemption through murder may seem morally repugnant but is a grim possibility given the fact that survival for the underclass is truly trying.
Besides the options for upward mobility are non-existent and therefore the recourse to unlawful means that in the milieu of corruption is indeed an unnoticeable blot. No, sir. People of this country are still waiting for their war of freedom to come from somewhere else. While as a social document it is penetrating in its portrayal of the inequities in Indian society, it nevertheless gives a lopsided view.
As Mihir Shah , writing exactly in the same year as Adiga and countering the subaltern view of the Partha Charterjee has pointed out, class may be a factor in maginalization but caste too plays a major role in the inequities faced in Indian Society. The marginalization faced by the dalits is yet another dimension of Indian society which is not economic but socio-cultural.
Perhaps Adiga would do well to write another novel documenting their plight as many dalit writers have done. Works Cited Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. Noida: Harper Collins, Assefa Mehretu, Bruce Wm. Pigozzi and Lawerence M Sommers. Bernt, Matthias and Laura Colini. Exclusion, Marginalization and Peripheralization. Conceptual Concerns in the Study of Urban Inequalities.
Working Paper No Jan Crewe, Jonathan.He uses the stolen money to open a small taxi service. He twirled a big bunch of keys and grinned. His stories do not hesitate to exhibit the gory underside of reality.
The White Tiger, Adigas debut novel, has been widely acclaimed for its portrayal of India. Premier, Sir.
Audible book Switch back and forth between reading the site book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. When Kishan put some food into Father's mouth, he spat it out with blood. Out of respect for the love of liberty shown by the Chinese people, and also in the belief that the future of the world lies with the yellow man and the brown man now that our erstwhile master, the white-skinned man, has wasted himself through buggery, cell phone usage, and drug abuse, I offer to tell you, free of charge, the truth about Bangalore.
What a fucking joke. I tried many more times, yet I was such a coward that each time I tried to go up, I lost my nerve and came back.
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