Colonial Rule has been controversial in many ways. Trying to make ends meet in the Pre-Independence Era resulted in being forced to make several tough choices. What I refer to as the “Babu Syndrome,”–the Brown Sahib complex or whatever…. had its downside. For many of the cerebral elite the choice was a tough one, which invoked walking the fine line between enslavement and revolution. Mahadevan is Dharmu’s husband, and through the book you see his mental anguish as he deliberates over his chosen path. Here is one instance….
The second shocker came when the Indian contingent went up to the top deck for dinner. Although they did not have to eat with the servants, who thankfully ate in a separate mess, they were all put together in two tables in one corner of the room. Mahadevan felt demeaned. All of this — sitting for the ICS, going to England — was in ardent pursuit for acceptance by the ruling class, to become part of the British elite. In reality, to the British he was nothing but another Indian, inferior to the British Brahmins. It was like climbing a steep slope and moving one step forward and three steps back. By dehumanizing the natives, the British rulers alienated large sections of the local population who fervently sought their expulsion from their land. Right now, Mahadevan was experiencing the very indignation and deep humiliation that gripped the land. But he recognized he was no Gandhi; he did not have the moral courage to languish in jail for a cause. Instead, he chose the path of least resistance, one that entailed mental enslavement to British colonialism, just like many Indian intellectuals all over the nation. He would become as British as the British. He would get into their minds and find what made them tick; he would show them that he was as good as any of them by becoming part of the cerebral elite.