Friday, September 11, 2009

A letter to the White Tiger

Dear Mr. Ashok Sharma,
alias Mr. Balram Halwai,
alias the White Tiger, "urf" Mr. Munna
Bangalore, India

Just when I was thinking whether cynicism could take us from Darkness to Light, that I came across your narrative to Mr Premier (I guess such coincidences happen in land of almost infinite deities and at least 4 great poets, you would understand). I read it and thought that I will have my say on this. Now I do not usually comment on personal issues of persons because it is personal and I am not the person to judge but I considered myself obligated to make a comment in this case(inspired by the way your story took course and as I have my say, you will understand why).

I consider myself somewhat an authority on your narrative's subject for two reasons. First since I was born and brought up in Dhanbad too, and then went to Delhi (such co-incidences happen like I said earlier) - so I feel a connection with your course.
Second, there is another caste in India other than two you highlighted (Darkness and Light), to which I belong and wanted to bring to notice.

First of all - I must say, coming from Darkness you are very bold and also have very good English and narrative style. I am a fan of your crisp writing style. I admire it wholeheartedly.

Now, let me tell you a story of my childhood. When I was a child and would go to some other town in some other state during vacation and I would tell that I am from Dhanbad, my relatives would have one question for me, a 6 year old, "oh you are from Dhanbad, the land of Coal Mafia, are you?" I did not know then what Mafia was - but had only heard stories. My relatives had heard stories too and imaginitive that the public is, they put two and two together to 42 and thought that Dhanbad's roads had Mafia with guns by the dozens. Such is the power of stories, you see. It creates perceptions. So I think stories should be woven responsibly giving the reader a near complete perspective on the subject matter, not a skewed representation of the tail ends of the distribution. Now what Mafia stories did to the image of Dhanbad, I fear, your story will do to the image of India. But that is hardly the whole reality, isn't it Mr Halwai?

Oh yes, and the third kind of caste I mentioned (to which I belong) has many names like you yourself Mr. Halwai. The one which I like the most out of them is Mr. R K Laxman's common man (or woman).

I wonder what Mr Premier (or those who read the book, or a young impressionable mind of a teenager) would make of perceiving India with the combined knowledge of the Prime Minister's handbook and your narrative. I am the common man and I will not call you a social entrepreneur, because I - under no circumstances - and Poirot taught me this - approve of murder, or novels that glorify it and get away with doing so.

Yours faithfully,
The Common Man

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