This Booker prize winner was on my bookshelf I don’t for how long. Attempted reading it before, but then dumped it because the content grossed me out. I kept thinking all the while:” is there anything more to this book than ammonia leaks, fucking jokes, and scratching groins.”
And, then one fine day, when I had forgotten about all these nitty-gritty I thought of picking this book once again, with a do or die attitude. “I am gonna finish it this time, no matter how taxing it proves on me,” I told myself.
HOOYAH! The White Tiger? Done and dusted! Finally!
And, here’s my take on the same:
India, at large can be divided into categories of people. People who Eat or get Eaten Up. The book precisely revolves around this concept. The India of Darkness comprises of people who let themselves be eaten up by people belonging to India of Light.
Though India is known to be a growing economic superpower, the majority of them live in darkness. The conflict between these two India’s is what forms the foundation of this book.
Balram Halwai, the hero of this story, is born in Dark portion of India. He’s is a bright student and nicknamed as the White Tiger, the rarest of the rare animal, that appears only once in a generation. But then, born in utter poverty, the only thing that he dreams of becoming is a bus conductor. Why? It’s because it’s the best way to escape poverty in his village and enter the brighter portion of India.
Escape, he does, but then he carries an eternal wound in his heart - the death of his rickshaw puller father because of tuberculosis. From then onwards his journey toward the light is laced with harsh and selfish incidents. From being a human spider at a tea stall he eventually becomes the driver of a Honda city car that belongs to the U.S returned guy Asoka. He manages to kill Ashoka and take all the cash from him to set up his own cab business in Bangalore. The police fails to catch him because the most-wanted poster they have come up with could easily match with any other random guy you could find on the street. And, maybe because, he had managed to fill the police commissioner’s pocket with loads and loads of cash.
So, now Balram Halwai is a known businessman who runs maybe…what, 16 cabs and is in hand-in-glove with the police. Any accident his cab drivers commit is cleverly covered up. But the worst part is that he really doesn’t know what has happened to his people in his village after he committed that murder. Probably his relatives were skinned alive by Ashoka’s family. Who cares? Balaram cares. But doesn’t care enough to really find out whether they were dead or alive. But then, it was expected. To escape The Great Indian Rooster Coup he had to sacrifice a few lives, what if they were his relatives. People of The Great Indian Rooster Coup allow their rich butcher masters to slaughter them one after the other. Given a chance, they won’t want to leave the coup. Servitude is inbred in them. Breaking the coup means paying with the lives of your people at home. Balram was not ready for this servitude. And he was ready to pay the price as well.
This Book Review is part of The Write Tribe Reading Challenge 2019.