“The word caste is derived from the Portuguese casta meaning race, breed, or ancestry. Historically, there were four levels of caste. At the top, the Brahmin (intellectuals), then the Kshatriya (warriors), followed by the Vaishya (traders) and finally the Shudra (servants). Some groups of people were banished from the system, and were referred to as untouchables, and they are socially excluded in some places still.” This is the strongest message to come from this love story. The injustice and wickedness that transpires when people are discriminated against from birth, is shown to be something that blights a person’s lifetime.
Per has written his story, which is the epitome of struggle and faith and belief, to survive and prosper. As a child, PK, as he was called, lived a happy and secure life, not understanding until much later that he was an Untouchable. When he went to school, he was made to sit on the verandah, and told never to touch anyone else at school. It was the same at the temple, and in the village. However, on the day PK was born, a fortune teller foretold that he would marry a white woman, who was from far away, and owned a forest. The lad, as he grew to manhood, clung to this dream or prophecy.
PK went to Art School, but through lack of money, had to sleep on the streets. He found drawing portraits of tourists profitable, and gained a fine reputation. Indira Ghandi, who wanted the caste system abolished, invited him to come to the palace and draw her likeness.
A Swedish girl, Lotta, was travelling through India and came across PK. They began to talk, and met several times, developing a firm friendship, which soon blossomed into love. Even though PK’s father “married them,” Lotta had to return to Sweden, leaving a devastated PK behind. His resolve and determination were incredible, as he struggled to plan and pursue his future, and just where in the world that might take him.
The book is an intense, factual and understated look at the life of one man in a caste system. It is a move towards educating people about ancient traditions that are maintained in our modern world.
|Author||Per J Andersson and Anna Holmwood|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|