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by Libba Bray
p.374-375 "You trained dog to English?" He points at me with the dagger. He makes a barking sound that tumbles into more laughter and then a terrible coughing fit that leaves blood on his hand.
"The English." He spits. "They give us this life. We are their dogs, you and I. Dogs. What they promise you cannot trust. But Chin-Chin's opium makes the whole world sweet. Smoke, my friend, and you forget what they do. Forget that you are a dog. That you will always be a dog."
He points the tip of his dagger into the sticky black ball of opium, ready to smoke his troubles away and float into an oblivion where he is no one's inferior. Kartik and I move on through the smoky haze. The Chinaman leads us to a tiny room and bids us wait a moment while he disappears behind the rags over the door. Kartik's jaw remains clenched.
"What that man said..." I stop, unsure of how to continue. "What I mean is, I hope you know that I do not feel that way."
Kartik's face hardens. "I am not like those men. I am Rakshana. A higher caste."
"But you are also Indian. They are your countrymen, are they not?"
Kartik shakes his head. "Fate determines your caste. You must accept it and live according to the rules>"
"You can't really believe that!"
"I do believe it. That man's misfortune is that he cannot accept his caste, his fate."
"I know that the Indians wear their caste as a mark upon their foreheads for all to see. I know that in England, we have our own unacknowledged caste system. A laborer will never hold a seat in Parliament. Neither will a woman. I don't think I've ever questioned such things until this moment.
p.443 "No use crying over spilled blood."