White Tiger: Review


9 – A True Page Turner

This is a letter written from a poor Indian peasant to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, elaborating a true Indian “entrepreneurship” journey from a tea boy, driver, murderer and eventually a transformed white tiger.

Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things that can be said only in English.

Grew up in a backwater village where the most treasured in the extended household is the water buffalo, a poor peasant lived between dark flowing sewage waters, corrupted school and four ruthless landlords. Sooner than he learnt to read, his education stopped. He started mopping floors in a local tea shop like his brother. With the surname of Halwai, becoming a sweet maker was embossed in his destiny, as it was for his family for generations. But he saw what happened to his Dad and his brother, he wanted nothing of it.

The story of a poor man’s life is written on his body, in a sharp pen

He saw how the corrupted society cruelly gnawed away what little flesh attached to the poor men who are being sucked dry and eventually discarded. Munna, a name given on his first day of school, wanted to break himself free of the chain, the cycle, the rooster coop. He climb to the monkey castle while his peers only stared in awe. He wanted to become the real white tiger.

So this poor boy whose childhood dream was to become the uniformed bus conductor who can whistle, blackmailed, stole, cheated, murdered, destroyed his family so that he can break free of the rooster coop. And on his way there, he travelled the dark India from a poor man’s eye. It is actually quite a lot to take in one read: empty hospital, rigged poll station, embezzled school, greedy police and corrupted politician. The malfunction of the system was evident every step of his journey. Gradually, an innocent man became a shrewd, successful “entrepreneur”.

Aravind’s showed a true and admirable talent in storytelling: convincing characters build with rich layers of personalities and the dark side of Indian were told with minute details and dissected with razor sharp precision. Witty sentences, vivid metaphors and ruthless satire glued me to the pages until I reach the last sentence! Fresh read, greatly satisfied and entertained.

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