The memory of Muli's humiliation stayed with me. I recalled similar incidents in my own country, and I wondered if the responses of untouchables to discrimination paralleled those of minorities in other countries. Was Muli indifferent to the insults he bore in silence? I hardly thought so; but I wondered how an ordinary untouchable like Muli survived economically, socially, and psychologically as a member of a despised group at the bottom of society. What were his joys, aspirations, and triumphs, as well as his humiliations? What would provoke someone like him to question the treatment he received from upper-caste people, to fight back?
James Freeman ( 1979: 5)1
"In one generation we have moved from denying a black man service at a lunch counter to elevating one to the highest military office in the nation and to being a serious candidate for presidency. This is a magnificent country . . ." said retired General Colin Powell before "leaping into the abyss of national politics [which] is a nuthouse" ( Reeves, 1995d: 6B). There are common conceptual-comparative elements in the "life histories" of Muli and Colin Powell. The difference, however, is of situations. Of special interest is the commonality of individual power to fight against the oppression and the social context in which this strife takes place. It is only in a democracy that this transformation can take place. However, as Powell rightly said, we have to "restore a sense of shame in this country" (quoted by Reeves, 1995d: 6B). How can a "magnificent country" restore its "sense of shame?" Is the ethos of an American Journey ( Powell, 1995) comparable to the pathos of the Mulis' life history in a "wounded civilization" ( Naipaul, 1977)?
"[A] gulf has opened up in our culture between the visibility of evil and