“He shivered as he turned on his side. But he didn’t mind the cold very much, suffering it willingly because he could sacrifice a good many comforts for the sake of what he called ‘fashun’, by which he understood the art of wearing trousers, breeches, coat, puttees, boots, etc., as worn by the British and Indian soldiers in India….But Bakha was a child of modern India.The clearcut styles of European dress had impressed his naive mind. This stark simplicity had furrowed his old Indian consciousness and cut deep new lines where all the considerations which made India evolve a skirty costume as best fitted for the human body, lay dormant.” (4)
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Publishers, 2014.
Perhaps it is suspect to pick a passage so near the beginning of the novel, but I do believe there is much to unpack here. Firstly, it introduces the narration as not being without sentiment towards the traditional ways of India. Perhaps the phonetic spelling of the word ‘fashion’ is meant to convey a sort of ridiculousness at chasing after the ways of the foreign British, something the rest of the passage seems also to do. Of course, despite the political implications of the passage, it is also worth noting the familiarity of this in terms of youthful aspiration and fashion chasing. Also, whereas Tagore’s stories had colonialism in the subtext, clearly this is a novel with the British colonization front and center.