Five year old Ashish was severely beaten for drinking from a
well on Sudra land. He is the only living son that Virat and
Latha have. She has lost five others. Ashish means
"Blessing." When Virat went to Landlord Mammen Samuel to
ask him to take his son to the Mission Medical Clinic,
Mammen Samuel obliged. After all, he proclaimed himself to
be a kind Christian man. But he made Virat sign his ledger,
making he and Latha slaves. They would have to work off
their debt. What they did not know was that their debt would
never go away.
Virat and Latha were untouchables, outcastes in the Indian
culture of the early 1900s. They tried to be good, brought
their sacrifices to the gods and followed the rules of the
caste system, but continued to fall on hard times and felt
punished for sins they must have committed in a previous
life. That was the teaching of their culture and the Hindu
religion. Ashish often asked his appa what he had done to
displease the gods. Virat had no answer to that question.
At the Mission Clinic, Abigail Davidson, a young nurse from
England, tends to Ashish's wounds and broken bones. She
sings to him during the night to comfort him and prays over
him while he is there. When he returns to his appa and amma,
he is also made to be a slave to Mammen Samuel. One of his
duties is to play with Mammen Samuel's youngest son, Saji
Stephen, who is an incorrigible child. He is constantly
getting in trouble and blaming it on Ashish.
Latha talks Virat into running away from the village and the
slavery in which they are bound. During a wedding
celebration, they escape. But when Mammen Samuel finds out,
he sends his oldest son to capture and return them. However,
before Boban Joseph captures them, they meet Abigail along
the way and give Ashish to her to protect. At the clinic,
she teaches Ashish the alphabet of the English language and
a few words. She also teaches him the song, Jesus Loves
Me. She continues to sing to him and pray for him.
When Saji Stephen's rants to have Ashish back for a playmate
become unbearable, Mammen Samuel finds Ashish and has him
returned to his family. Ashish clings to the teachings from
Abigail and shares them with his family. Can his faith help
redeem them from their misfortune?
THE FAITH OF ASHISH is a tragic, yet beautiful story
depicting the beliefs in India a century ago. The tragedy
lies in their belief that not all people are created equal.
The beauty lies in the fact that people are bringing hope to
India and more importantly, change. We are truly blessed to
live in American. Do we count those blessings? Ashish and
his family may learn to count theirs. Do not miss this
historical, inspirational novel by Kay Marshall Strom. It
will touch your heart.
Never Doubt That the Unending Love of a Father—or the Pure
Faith of a Child—Can Change Lives
“His name is Ashish. His name is blessing. The boy is my
Virat and Latha named their son Ashish, for he is the light
and glory of their world. Yet a simple drink of water
changes all their lives forever. For Virat, Latha, and
Ashish are Untouchables, members of a caste who must never
contaminate the world of the other, higher, castes.
When Ashish mistakenly drinks from the wrong cup, he’s badly
beaten. Knowing that his son needs a doctor—which takes
money—Virat ventures into the dangerous realm of the high
caste. He begs Mammen Samuel Varghese, the wealthy landowner
and Christian, for money. He receives the loan—along with a
life of slavery for himself and his family.
But Mammen Samuel does not understand the strength of a
father’s love, the power of a young British nurse who could
not forget a boy named Blessing—or the faith of a child.
Thank you for this review of my book. I love the way fiction intertwines with life, and allows us to see it in a new way. Thought you might be interested to know that the impetus for writing this trilogy (this is book 1) was the passioned request of a Dalit (Indian "Untouchable")activist's plea to let people in the West know of their plight. I will make my 8th trip to India this winter for a book debut. (Kay Strom 9:31am July 4, 2011)