dijous, 19 de febrer de 2009

A birthday for the White tiger

"I've got no problem with democracy, Mr. Jiabao. Far from it, I owe democracy a lot, even my birthday, in fact. This was back in the days when I was smashing coals and wiping tables at the tea shop in Laxmangarh. There was a clapping from the direction of the portrait of Gandhi -the old tea shop owner began shouting that all his workers had to leave whatever they were doing and march to the school.
A man in government uniform sat at the teacher's desk in the schoolroom, with a long book and black pen, and he was asking everyone two questions.
'Name'.
'Balram Halwai'.
'Age'.
'No age'.
'No date of birth?'
'No, sir, my parents didn't make note of it.'
He looked at me and said, 'I you're eigtheen. I think you turned eighteen today. You just forgot, didn't you?'
I bowed to him. 'That's correct, sir. I forgot. It was my birthday today.'
'Good boy.'
And then he wrote down in his book and told me to go away. So I got a birthday from the government.

I had to be eighteen. All of us in the tea shop had to be eighteen, the legal age to vote. There was an election coming up, and the tea shop owner had already sold us. He had sold our fingerprints -the inky fingerprints which the illiterate person makes on the ballot paper to indicate his vote."


Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger.

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