If rats can be a delicacy in Hong Kong, why not in Bihar? Thanks to Amitava Kumar’s book, one has discovered an ally who gets at the heart of dalit liberation: popularize rat meat, encourage rat farming, there is no reason why others can’t benefit from protein-rich rat meat. Vijoy Prakash, in the book, makes more sense than a truckload of ‘immigrant’ dalit activists. “The dish was served with rice and tasted delicious (P17)”.
For readers who have lived in Patna, A Matter of Rats is like experiencing six degrees of separation, the narrative spins around familiar names and faces, like a series of Facebook status updates, at once intimate and irreverent, each with immense sharing potential: the boy Laloo writing on a slate with a piece of brick; an irate Shiva Naipaul trudging through mud near Pipra village; a chappal bouncing down the escalator at the P&M Mall.
On July 16, before the book launch, Amitava had tweeted, “Driving across Bihar is easier if you are reading Ian Jack’s ‘Mofussil Junction’ each night right up till the power goes.” Amitava in his book referred to three sets of people who made up Patna: Those who grew up, moved out but still visited, others who contributed to the character of the city, and those migrants from other places who form the workforce and in a way make up its flesh, blood, bones, warts, and vibrancy.