-Arvind Adiga Summary:
Arvind Adiga’s Sultan’s Battery is an intriguing little story. It’s about a man, Ratna belonging to that part of the society which feels the weight of class differences the heaviest. He sells fake cures for venereal diseases (STDs) because this is the only way he can raise money for dowries for his three daughters. Ratna uses the astrologer as matchmaker, but he isn’t interested in comparing horoscopes or picking ideal wedding dates – he wants financial stablility for his daughter and makes his choices accordingly. Anyhow, the first suitor to come forward turns out, ironically, to be inflicted with a venereal disease. From this point the story takes a turn that one might not expect from such a set-up. Even though Ratna cancels the wedding, he is forced to confront the effects of the false hope he was profiting from. Our Understanding:
Though it is a story that covers many themes, one that clearly manifests itself is the conflict that Ratna faces between the family needs and what is beneficial for the society. Ratna justifies his sale of sugar pills to cure venereal diseases because he has 3 daughters who need arranged marriages and that requires dowry. But when the victim of these diseases becomes a potential husband for his daughter and Ratna sees close up the end of the life for him he is forced to ask himself if the trade off for one’s own family is worth the destruction of others?
His guilt makes him help the young man, and we see Ratna taking him to a real doctor for help. Another theme that comes forward in the story is the protagonist’s desire for collecting dowries for his daughters. He works day-in and day-out in order to earn money and save it as dowry. This makes him forget the difference between right and wrong, until he lands up in a situation where he is forced to confront the fact that what he has been doing is wrong. The story ends abruptly with Ratna taking the youg boy to his own house.