Some facts I discovered after writing the novel. In English language fiction based in India or Indian’s there is little with about the Shudra castes, the untouchables of the Hindu faith. My protagonist Karam is the only contemporary fictional lead in an English book that I could find. It both shocked and surprised me.
My reason for choosing this theme about the plight of the untouchables is that I spent part of my childhood and youth growing up in India. In my own village in the Punjab and in the cities of Chandigarh and Ludhiana. I went to school and university with members of the Shudra castes. I was ambivalent to the rules on inter-caste behavior and often visited their homes or residences rooms to study and socialize. I played kabbadi and field hockey with them. However this kind of camaraderie was not typical. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I was an aberration and maybe due to some years spent in Tanzania where caste was not a social practice. When my Shudra friends came to my home they avoided sitting on the furniture, stepping into the kitchen or cooking area or using any utensils, even a glass for a drink of water, lest it offend my elders. And, I believe to save me the trouble of having to defend them. However in their homes I was treated as an honored guest!
As a creative writer my best work was judged to be short story I wrote in 1983, The Brahmin’s Way. Dubbed a ribald classic it was taught in a class for creative writing at a Toronto college. In this story a high born middle aged man connives to attain the love of a beautiful Shudra girl of the Bhangi or sweeper caste, the same caste that Karam is born into. I will be adding that story to my blog for the pleasure of my readers. Karam’s Kismet continues my work to represent and illuminate the very injustices faced by the untouchables and the convenient exploitations. All sanctioned by the Rig Vedas, the holy Hindu texts.
The novel is a work of literary fiction. It is a book about India, the Indian caste system, the Shudras and untouchables, rural mysticism, reincarnation, The Indian partition, early Indian educational system, Christianity and Christians in India. It touches upon the Indian diaspora and its efforts to awaken India. Emigration and immigration and the resultant dislocation, struggle for integration and the hard work and rewards thereof in societies that achieve level playing fields for their citizens.
While I have raised a lot of questions, some disturbing and prompting soul-searching, I have left to the reader to form his/her own opinions. I wanted to write an uplifting tale, create a grander vision of the humanity that resides within us all. And inspire you, the reader to understand and support the uplifting of the downtrodden.