Krishnan Varma’s “The Grass-Eaters” presents the everyday realities of living in extreme poverty in Calcutta, by looking at the life of the main character, Ajit, and his wife Swapna.
The effects of class oppression are most visible in the descriptions provided by the narrator towards the end. Ajit remembers how he got into an unfortunate tram accident and lost his leg:
In Calcutta the trams are always crowded and if you can’t get into a carriage you may get up on its roof. The conductor will not stop you. If he tries, the passengers beat him up, set fire to the tram and any other vehicles parked in the vicinity, loot nearby shops, break street lamps, take out a procession, hold a protest meeting, denounce British imperialism, American neo-colonialism, the central governm...