The memoir of an Indian woman who was born a so-called untouchable and now works as a conductor on the New York City Subway has been hailed by critics for its unflinching account of caste and family in India. Journalist Sudha G Tilak spoke to Sujatha Gidla about her life story and how it became Ants Among Elephants. – BBC
My mother would hire another woman, named Ruthamma, to do chores in our house. She was washing dishes in a bucket on the kitchen floor when I walked in, eating a piece of apple. It was the day after Christmas. We could afford apples only at Christmas. A couple of apples for the whole family. Ruthamma looked at the piece of apple in my hand with such a stupid, lustful grin, salivating openly, that I could not eat it anymore. I knew that she had never in her life tasted an apple. I can’t remember if I gave it to her.
Experiences like this made me wish there were no poor people in the world. But how could that be achieved?