Book: The White Tiger
Bus #56 (inexplicably labeled Moran Garage); 6:04 a.m.
I almost killed a cyclist on my way to the bus. I exaggerate. My acceleration to 80 m.p.h. as I turned into my commuter lot made hitting him/her very unlikely.
Adiga gives us another hint about Balram's crime. It involved stealing money; enough money to buy 10 silver Macintosh laptops from Singapore. Referring back to the wanted poster's description of the perp, Balram criticizes that it omits his education. Balram asserts that a man's description should always include his education. Balram offers his up: "The suspect was educated in a school with two-foot-lizards the color of half-ripe guavas hiding in its cupboards..." pg 28. I love this.
The book's humor comes from the way Balram's character describes things that are ridiculous, hideous or unjust without seeming to realize their ridiculousness, hideousness or unjustness. For example, Balram explains how none of the children ate at school b/c the schoolteacher stole the kids lunch money which was meant to buy the free food provided by the school. How great is that?
Apparently, "sister-fucker" is worse than "mother-fucker" in India.
Despite the food shortage, Balram's life was looking up when the visiting school inspector singled him out from the other kids from school as being "an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots." He tells Balram that he is the rarest of animals in any jungle...the white tiger. This is the part where you stand up and cheer for little Balram.
Then you immediately sit back down. As Balram so wisely puts it, "[T]he one infallible law of life in [his village] is that good news becomes bad news -- and soon." pg. 30. What is the bad news? His cousin-sister (apparently sister-fucking isn't that bad after all) got engaged. Balram follows this with, "because we were the girl's family, we were screwed." I laughed out loud.
So cousin-sister had an enormous, lavish wedding that made the water buffalo jealous, and Balram's family was sold into slavery to pay for it. Balram is forced to leave school and work as a coal breaker in the pig shit smelling tea shop.