Friday, August 31, 2012

My Favorite Scene


Hi, Everyone! There were a couple of scenes in the Cellular Jail that had actually taken place later. But I liked them so much, I added them in my novel. I thought it would add lighter moments to the story. I really enjoyed writing the scene below:

There came a day when a Chinese convict was brought here for drug trafficking. He had heard of Savarkar. At the first opportunity he asked, “You big man … Savalkal?” His eyes were huge with wonder.

“Yes, I am Savarkar,” replied Savarkar, amused.

“But you velly small!”

He apparently believed that a great man like Savarkar should have an impressive height and breadth.

He poked Savarkar in the chest. “You feel pain? Bullet bounce off your body, maybe?” he asked eagerly.

“Of course not! It will go through me just like anyone else.”

The man was deeply disappointed. “No … no! You gleat man! How many days and nights you swim in sea?”

“At Marseilles you mean? I was in the sea for only ten minutes or so!”

The man’s disillusionment in the greatness of men was complete. Here was this tiny man, quite vulnerable, trapped in this small cell—what can be his claim to greatness? Even his daring escape was only a ten-minute swim! Never again would he believe in the daring-dos of heroes! The man shook his head sorrowfully and took leave.

A few days later Keshu was before Savarkar. “Tatyarao, there is a Chinese man going around telling everyone how he was hoaxed into believing you were a hero,” said Keshu, gnashing his teeth. “I set him straight on a few points! I don’t think he will dare make such snide statements again.”

Savarkar laughed. “Keshu, I cannot hope to win everyone’s devotion. Alas, I am but a midget—not everyone’s idea of what a hero should be! But what to do?”


“Well, he is an ignorant one, certainly! Tatyarao, there is a lot of talk going around of us getting amnesty. Is it true, do you think?”



 “I hope so, Keshu. I hope so. Hindustan needs us all! Vande Mataram!”

The little Savarkar-Keshu scene just flowed out of my fingers. I felt so much a part of the character of both.

I had to share this with you all.

Anurupa

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What's this . . . ?


Hi, Everyone! It is a documented fact that Hotilal Varma secretly wrote a letter and got it smuggled out of Andaman to Surendranath Bannerji, Editor of Bengalee, Calcutta, in end of August 1911. He signed the letter and put his cell number on it.

Hotilal Varma received great credit for it from others, and is lauded for his courage.

There is one significant point to note here (which will be clear later): why did Hotilal sign his name and give his cell number? Surely there was great danger of repercussion from the Andaman authorities? Was it not unnecessarily foolhardy? The publicity would have been just as effective without the name—so I think.

As I read Ramcharan Lal’s account of his Andaman experiences, I jerked straight up in my seat. On page 42, quite unambiguously he devotes a page plus to how he wrote and smuggled that first letter out to Calcutta . . . ! I read it over and over, not believing my eyes, thinking that my feeble Hindi was playing tricks on  me. But no. I was not mistaken.

 His account is very elaborate and there is no mention of Hoti Lal. How very odd.

Well, I could hardly leave such a stupendous mystery alone! I worried at it, like a dog going at a bone. Finally, I came up with what is my conjecture, my guess. It is not a confirmed or verified fact.

I just feel it explains the mystery:

It is obvious from reading Ramcharan’s book that there was some animosity between Hoti Lal and Ramcharan. Hoti Lal had let out a secret of Ramcharan’s in the Cellular Jail (even though Ramcharan had requested him to keep it to himself).

Would it be a possibility, I thought, that Ramcharan had written the letter (his account is so comprehensive), but to get revenge, out of mischief, perhaps, wrote Hoti Lal’s name and cell number on it instead of his own?

Surely, he was aware that once that name was published, that writer would be in deep, deep trouble with the authorities?

Is that what happened?

Unfortunately (if that is what he did indeed do) for Ramcharan, whatever trouble Hoti Lal got into for ‘writing’ that letter, it raised his credit immensely amongst his peers. He was praised and lauded! If Ramcharan intended mischief, it back-fired.

And so, was he now trying to set the record straight and get credit for himself for his brave act?

If there is someone who can shed more light on this, I wish they would, for I don’t like unsolved mysteries, really.

It is a small miracle that Ramcharan’s book saw the light of the day. Ramcharan had handed over his precious manuscript to Dr. Yudhveer Singh for safekeeping that the British police would not discover it. Dr. Singh could not even remember who it was that had given the manuscript to him! One day, he unearthed the forgotten manuscript from his bookshelf, and the book has now been published.

Anurupa

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Follow the Clues . . .

Hi, Everyone! As I had written, I had research material on the Cellular Jail written by the political prisoners (PPs) themselves. But there was one peculiarity about it—an almost complete absence of dates or sequence of events!

It was all written under hush-hush circumstances and from memory. With their horrendous situation they had no way of keeping dates or a diary. So there is a certain amount of confusion. Savarkar has made it a point to be ambiguous in some places, for the British were watching him like a hawk. He has mentioned no names, unless the person had passed away. His narration, though very thorough, is not sequential.

What to do now—was the dilemma I faced.

 Well, I told myself, what I have is essentially a ‘mystery’. I shall gather all my clues and fit them into a pattern. (I haven’t devoured Hercules Poirot’s books for nothing!)

For a base I copied the calendar for the years 1913-21. Then marked the fixed dates I had for events on it. I padded it out with each incident and event, the best I could. So now I had created an Andaman diary.

This was what I referred to throughout. The whole process was not unlike being a detective—an intuitive one.

·        Savarkar had mentioned a Hindu warder devoted to him. In Ramcharan Lal Sharma’s book I found that warders name! Bajira.

·        In Barin Kumar’s book I found lots of descriptions of various people, which was precious for me.

·        But Barin Kumar has made a mistake in the name of Superintendent. So I realized I cannot blindly follow everything I find in the PPs books. I must need double check all information. I had a hard time finding the correct names of the Superintendent. But I did do it (I very much needed the help of Google. There were all kinds of documents on the Cellular Jail chronology.)

I should also say, most of the PPs books are written from their personal point of view and reveals their own bias, imperfect understanding of some situations (so I felt). So I didn’t blindly follow what they wrote, either. I crossed checked again and again.

I found Savarkar’s writing to be very impartial. But he makes it a point to refer to a ‘traitor’ among the PPs, who snitched on him many times to get concessions from Barrie. I have identified this ‘traitor’ to my satisfaction—by pouncing on obscure but revealing clues—but didn’t use this information in the novel. Let it be, I felt. Savarkar had a right to write of his experiences. I don’t have the same right to write so of one who went through hell for his motherland. So no traitor or even a whiff of one in my book. 

I came across a very peculiar circumstance in Ramcharan Lal Sharma’s book. I shall write on that tomorrow.

Anurupa

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take not their only paradise . . . !


Hi, Everyone! One is awestruck by the courage and patriotism of the political prisoners who were incarcerated in the Cellular Jail——not only did they bravely face their ordeal there, but continued to fight for their motherland after their release and wrote biographies recording their experiences while still under British rule . . . ! That is why a lot of valuable material is available to us today.
·        In each and every biography of these heroes that I read there was one common factor—despite the grueling hardship they suffered in the CJ, they wrote with humor, recording their situation but not wallowing in the pathos of it, even making light of it.
These heroes would certainly have been totally obliterated from human memory otherwise.
I had a hard time finding out some information, even so. Pandit Parmanand of Jhansi (not to be confused with Bhai Parmanand) was a volcano! I wanted to give him a little role in my novel, but the sad truth is, I could not even locate his name. His father’s name is to be found, but his—no. Pandit Parmanand from Jhansi, that is almost the sum total of what we know of him. I did find this link giving some info on him:
Savarkar has recorded incidents of Nanigopal Mukherji. We know that he visited Savarkar in Ratnagiri and that’s all.
Chatar Singh: can you imagine being put in a cage—a cage! Not tall enough to stand up, barely long enough to lie down—for two plus years, day in day out? You do this for your country, and then, what? The country forgets you—just like that.
So many of them were well-to-do; so many had their wealth and property confiscated by the British. So many of them died as uncared-for-paupers in the country for whose freedom they fought, for whom they sacrificed so much.
It pained my heart as I researched and wrote that I could not write more of these Sons of India, that I could not do more justice to them.
I do fervently hope that someone somewhere has recorded a little more of all these heroes.
 “Remembrance is the only paradise out of which we cannot be driven away.”
And yet we have driven away these brave men from the only paradise they had?

Anurupa

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Pilgrimage to the Cellular Jail . . .


 
Hi, Everyone! In July 2011, I was lucky enough to visit Port Blair for a precious two days. Hardly had I checked in into the hotel, and I was hotfooting it to the Cellular Jail.

I was all choked up as I stood in the entrance hall. This was where Savarkar stood. This was what he has described so well in his My Transformation for Life. I had poured over so many youtube videos of the CJ, but it doesn’t prepare you for the reality. As I stepped out into the yard from the entrance hall, the incredible length of the arched wings converging far, far away to almost a point, swamped my senses. And it seemed as if I was walking and walking, but getting no closer to the central tower, gomati.

To call the gomati a tower is a total misnomer! One expects a round building. It was nothing of the kind! At the ground level it is only a space and the above levels, it was a central room with passage around it, into which the walkways from the wings opened. No staircase . . . ! If the gates to the wings are locked, you are stuck in the gomati area.

Every night the warders patrolled on the roofs of all wings—were they marooned there when the wing gates were closed?

Then I noticed that wing 7 had two gates, one on either side of the staircase block. So perhaps the warders used this as the staircase to go up and down?

Savarkar’s cell was lit up; to get a feel for how it had felt to be shut in there, I shut myself in into one toward the staircase. It was so dark, so gloomy. I stood at the barred door just as I described my Keshu doing.

Horrors! There was nothing to be seen! Just the barred arch of the passage and beyond that the brick wall of block 1. I felt crushed by the isolation in the two minutes I was in there.

I stepped out of the cell hurriedly and had to take big, gulping breaths to calm my thumping heart.

I had read and studied so much on the CJ. My mind was crowded with questions. But there were no answers—until I met Dr. Rashida Iqbal, the curator of the CJ, that was. I shamelessly invaded her space and appropriated her time.

Oh she was so knowledgeable! And with the sweetest, friendliest smile. I was so relieved, so grateful.

From her I learnt about the peepal tree in the yard. I had been puzzling over the hospital and she told me that the plinth on which the memorial torch was placed was the actual plinth of the hospital. I asked questions to my heart’s content and she answered so willingly. I had been wondering about the whereabouts of the toilet block in the CJ. She told me where to find one that was extant. I actually walked through tall, tall grass—it was a bit creepy, that! I felt quite like a jungle explorer—to find it!

There was one thing that is unanswerable today—lost in the mist of time. The kitchen, which served all seven blocks, seemed like a tiny little room to me.

How did the two kitchen areas (one for the Muslims and the other for the Hindus) fit in here? Where was the cooking area for the prisoners who were allowed to cook? Where was the area for the vegetable patches they maintained? Mysterious!

Savarkar has described his first view of the CJ. I wanted to experience what he saw the way he saw it. That was easier said than done!!

There are several coconut trees planted in front of the CJ today, making it practically invisible from the jetty. I made my driver take me to all kinds of vantage points, popped out of the car and squinted up at the CJ, but no luck. What to do?

Well, then I just brought my imagination into play and mentally removed all the trees and had a good look in my mind’s eye.

There were one or two things I wanted to experience in Port Blair (though with a nervous, palpitating heart!) and didn’t. I had wanted to see the one foot long centipede and experience the flies and mosquitos. But (perhaps very fortunately) I came across none of these in my stay there.

When I got back, I revised my manuscript by pouring in all that I had absorbed. Months later, one day I just sat down and dashed off a write-up with illustrations to record whatever I saw and felt. I wished I had done it immediately, or that I had had thought of doing this before I went there, so I could do it full justice.

Perhaps someone else will do it in a professional way, one day. Everyone needs to know and realize what a mammoth torture chamber the Cellular Jail was.

Anurupa

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Little Devil . . . !


Hi, Everyone! Throughout the writing process, I have been my own worst critic!
There I was, in the form of a little devil—just like the movies, at least the Bollywood ones!—perched upon my shoulder sniping and carping at everything I wrote, whispering odious objections into my ears: why this? Why not that . . . ? Credibility, credibility, credibility, it dinned into my head.
What I wouldn’t have given to swipe that voice away . . . !
But even through the worst frustrations I was glad the voice was there, for it kept me on my mettle. It made sure I gave my all to the novel and left no stone unturned in ferreting out teeny-tiny bits of information.
When there was so much research I was doing that was directly connected with the subject of my novel—and my mind had been a blank slate on this subject, upon which I was writing fast and furiously—to be digging up obscure facts, that would most likely not make it into the novel was very difficult, to say the least.
Did I really want to read of the atrocious deeds of Brigadier Niell?
Did I want to understand the mechanics of the WWI? Understand the politics of Turkey around that time?
Did I want to learn of the seasons of flowering trees?
Did I want to learn how to break someone’s neck, to know what happens to a beheaded body?
No, no, no, and no! But I did. Strictly speaking, I could have written the novel without going into all this, but my conscience would have bitten me every day. I am glad I let the ‘devil’ hound me into doing the right thing.
There is, however, one—well, two if you count not researching gay molestation—thing I did not research. And that is Spencer’s First Principles! Though I mention them, since Savarkar knew them by heart, I am utterly clueless re that.
The little ‘devil’ started its buzz-z-z, buzz-z-z-z right away, but I put my foot down against researching Spencer’s FP so hard, that it was knocked right of my shoulder. Thank goodness!
And my conscience seems to agree with me, for all is quiet on that front.

Anurupa

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Peacock, not poppycock!


Hi, Everyone! One of the last ‘layers’ I added was incorporating a couple of my mother’s tips.
My mother had written to me re putting in a romantic description of ‘dusty roads’ and such things. I really wanted to oblige her in that.
                   But where would that description belong?
There was nothing romantic about the Cellular Jail, or the Moplah riots, or Mumbai, which was, anyway, a busy metropolis even then (with ‘dusty’ roads certainly, but not romantic!)

After cogitating over the problem, it hit me—the Sevagram Ashram was perfect for the description. I had not included any description of it, which was very remiss of me.
I rushed to my usual place: Google search engine. Studied the Ashram photos and inserted the description, with many mental thanks to my mother.
My mother also would have liked me to add a peacock to the Savarkar recovery scenes. She thought it would add a nice contrast.
I shrank—just like a wilting mimosa—from doing that. It was a very, very emotional scene for me and a frivolous peacock (in Walchandnagar that too!) didn’t gel with me.
But I didn’t want to let go my mother’s idea either, not this easily. So I went back to gazing at my manuscript hoping to see some light—and I did!
Fortunately for me, I remembered that the British had imported peacocks into Andaman, most definitely on the Ross Island! Savarkar himself has written in his My Transportation for Life how he watched the hens and the cows from block 5 after being discharged from the hospital.
                   Why should I not add a peacock to the scene?
The more I thought of it, the more I liked it. When I visited the Cellular Jail (more on that in later posts), I grabbed the opportunity to study if in fact it was possible for Savarkar to see a peacock from the Cellular Jail.
Ross Island, while close to Port Blair, is not near enough—at first glance—for peacocks to be visible from it. An elephant, yes, but peacock, no way! I was dashed, but only momentarily. I tripped along to the roof—very nervously crossing some flimsy looking wooden boards (would they bear my weight? I agonized)—and gazed at Ross Island long and hard.
I imagined the block 5 (it is not extant), imagined Savarkar’s cell with the ocean view—fortunately, I have a very good imagination!—and looked from that perspective toward the Ross Island.
And what do you know?!! Ross Island has a peculiar tip that pokes out into the ocean, bringing it very close to exactly to the spot where block 5 must have been!
From there a peacock could be visible. The rest of the island is set at an angle away from Port Blair.
Anyone who wishes to argue this point may visit the Cellular Jail and see the truth of what I write for themself.
I can assure you all that my peacock was standing at the very tip of that tip when Savarkar saw it.
 By the way, I have been told by a blogging expert that it is okay to use multiple punctuations in a blog—freedom of expression, that’s what counts here, apparently, not rules.
Yippee!

Anurupa

 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Definitely not a breeze!


Hi, Everyone! I have no idea how other authors do it, but soon after beginning to write, I developed a workable system for myself.

Though I have only two parts in my novel, for the research and writing of it I had it divided into more:

·        Andaman

·        Khilafat Movement and  the Moplah riots

·        1938

·        Hyderabad Civil Disobedience Movement

·        1944 to 1946

·        Noakhali

·        Partition

·        Gandhi-murder

I first read all books and online information connected to the specific topic. I underlined important paragraphs. I even scribbled in the margins—this did not do me any good for rarely could I understand my scribbles!  But it satisfied some need.

Then I read the books over. I prepared a time-line chart—many thanks to all those websites which give calendars for the historical years, including information like phases of the moon!—indicating which incident was coming where and noting the book and page number where it occurred.

I read the books over again, this time sticking to the parts I had picked.

Then I thought about the scenes, until they appeared like a movie in my head. If only one could transfer thoughts onto paper in a magical way, writing the book would have been a snap!

I found out the hard way, there is a world of a difference between seeing the scenes in my mind’s eye and penning them on paper (or rather Microsoft Word).

Even so, I did need to see them so before I could move on. Then I surrounded myself with all the books (open to the pages required for the particular scene I was writing) I needed, referring to them for each and every scene as I wrote. Since all incidents and facts are true, this was critical.

With this my first ‘layer’ was ready.

‘Layer’ is the name I have given to all stages of writing the scenes. When the first layer of the scenes was ready, I would study it to see what information needed to be added.

To give an example: in Savarkar’s recovery scene, I studied and collected information on flowers that bloomed in that season. I did not want the flowers to be out-of-tune. I added those in the next ‘layer.’

I have a dialogue re ‘the sugar-coated bitter pill.’ I had to go to Google and check and see if indeed sugar-coated pills were available in 1920 . . . ! Fortunately, they were.

When all such layers were added, my first draft was ready. After that I edited, trimmed, revised only a million times or so.

The writing was not a breeze by any means, but with this organized process I got a grip on it.

Anurupa

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saved by my books . . . !


Hi, Everyone! I shall give an instance why I call my book-buying decision a life-saver.

Picture the scene: I had been editing—and re-editing—my manuscript forever. I had already re-submitted it to Trafford twice. There should have been no more corrections—in an ideal world. But alas! That was not the case. My greatest fear was that there would be at least some tiny fact I had not double-triple checked. Cold fingers clutched my heart daily at the thought.

I had read my manuscript so many times . . . ! I felt I would scream if I had to do it once more—and yet read it I did.

It was while my tired eyes were scanning the pages—for the last time, I prayed to God fervently—that my eyes fell upon the words ‘550 Princely States.’ These words I had written many months ago and had not bothered me for the ‘n’ number of times that I had read the manuscript.

But that day, I couldn’t move on. Just where had I got that number 550 from? This was the question that started buzzing in my brain.

It was past 10 p.m., z-z land was beckoning invitingly. But there was no resting for me. I went quickly to another life-saver—the Google search engine. To my horror a variety of numbers popped up for the Princely States, but not a one was 550!

                   What now?

This is where my books came in handy. I rushed to the six or seven books that had likely coughed up that number for me. I perused once—twice—and again, but with no luck.

It was another of those moments when I could sink my head in my hands and cry.

Just in time a ray of hope shone through the darkness before my eyes. Along with the books I needed for my novel, I had also bought several books that I didn’t need but thought would be interesting to own. One such was V. P. Menon’s The Story of the Integration of the Indian States. I started hunting for the book in the sea of books that I have and found it after a few tense moments.

Finally, I found the number of the Princely States in there—562! V. P. Menon’s word was good enough for me and I duly made the changes in my manuscript.

But the horror of the close-call has not yet left me, I can tell you. Saved by my books I was, for sure!

Toodle-oo,

Anurupa

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If Mahomet will not go to the mountain . . .


Hi, Everyone! I am a book-worm. I love to read, though I am a hard-to-please, picky reader. But before beginning research for this novel, I had read only for pleasure, or out of interest.

Even though I lapped up non-fiction books (Zecharia Sitchin is a great favorite of mine and so are books on the Great Pyramid of Giza), I had never made an attempt to make notes or keep track of the material I was reading.

So this was my maiden research venture as well. I was well aware of my shortcomings in doing research:

·       As I have mentioned time and again, I am a widow, a single-mom of three school-going children. When I first started writing the novel, they were 11, 9, and 6 years of age. My schedule revolved around their hours.

·       Taking notes and referring to them was too tedious for me.

·       Keeping facts and figures in my head and spouting them out at will when I need them is not one of my strengths.

·       I needed a vast number of books for the research.

While we have wonderful libraries here (and I absolutely swear by the U.S. libraries and their inter-library-loan system), going there and spending hours and hours taking notes was not practical for me.

It was woefully apparent to me that my Mahomet was not going to make it to the mountain! The mountain would have to come to me.

There and then I decided that I would buy every book I needed for the research. That was the only way I could have access to the books at a moment’s notice.

                   Taking the decision was all very well, but were the books              available?

Yes, yes, yes . . .! It is truly amazing how some websites are dedicated to providing rare books. It is truly amazing how writers are writing on every topic imaginable. I was never disappointed! Any obscure subject I thought of—judicial system in the British Raj, for one; prisons in the British Raj, for another—and at least one person has written a book on it.

My favorite website for buying the books was www.biblio.com  They offered reasonable prices and had a very organized way of keeping track of my vast orders. A tip: if you find an out-of-print book you really want, snap it up. They disappear fast!

I was able to acquire all the Savarkar books in Marathi from the Savarkar Smarak in Mumbai. Without these my research—and so, naturally, my novel—would have been incomplete.

I do actually own all the books in that long list of reference books at the end of Burning for Freedom and many more besides.

This decision, though somewhat expensive, has been a lifer-saver for me in writing my novel. More on that next time.

Pip-pip.

Anurupa


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dialogue Dilemma . . .


Hi, Everyone! I have written re the breakdown of Savarkar in 2011. I was so determined on writing those scenes that I jumped in with both feet, eyes closed. But in 2009, when I first wrote Savarkar scenes in the Cellular Jail, it was another story!
My knees were knocking together at the idea of writing dialogues for Savarkar then. How could I dare to do such a thing? It was a sacrilege . . . !  What colossal audacity on my part . . . ! Such were the admonishments my mind was beating into my brain. The Quivering Jelly (mentioned in the first post)—so happily in abeyance for a while now—was about to be resurrected, I do believe.
How could I write a novel on Savarkar, if I didn’t have the gumption to write dialogues for him . . . ?
It was this thought, and only this thought, that gave me the courage to give the QJ the boot, before she quite took root. I bent my mind to the problem and the solution was not far away!
In his book My Transportation for Life, written re his experience in the Indian jails, Savarkar has very frankly revealed many of his thoughts and feelings. It is a wonderful book to read. I did a deep study of this book, made a selection of his various thoughts scattered throughout the book and rendered them in a dialogue form.
It was not easy by any means, but it was possible. In 2011, after completing the manuscript —by which time I was very comfortable writing Savarkar’s dialogues—I went back and revamped them all.
And now, not only I am going to start my next novel on “Savarkar in London”, but I have every intention of writing little anecdotes of Savarkar, perhaps in a story form, in my blog posts.
There are so many interesting Savarkar snippets, but all are written in Marathi. I shall be digging them up and putting them before you all.
Toodle-oo
Anurupa

Monday, August 20, 2012

An offering in the freedom pyre . . . !


Hi, Everyone! In the readers’ journey through the Burning for Freedom, I want them to go through the same myriad of emotions as I did, as Savarkar’s larger-than-life personality, his staunch principles, his amazing deeds, and the gross injustice, all unfold before their eyes.

Do forgive me, for I shall digress here for a moment. Talking of Savarkar’s amazing deeds, do check out the link below. It gives an account I have written (Part I and II) of Savarkar’s unbelievable escape from the porthole of the SS Morea on the morning of July 8, 1910.


Among what moved me terribly was Savarkar’s breakdown in 1946, right from the first biography I read. It is mostly hushed up (I had my work cut out to collect the meager facts that are available.) I can understand why perfectly. There is so much undeserved and unwarranted mud-slinging—which I shall address one by one, in future posts—going on re Savarkar that those devoted to him do not want to add to the pot.

A mental breakdown—certainly in the years gone by and even, perhaps, today—is looked upon as a stigma by Indians in general. Which Savarkarite will want that period of Savarkar’s life to be highlighted?

And yet I chose to do just that! For me Savarkar’s breakdown is not a stigma. Never!

It was his ultimate offering on the freedom-pyre.

He ground himself to dust for love of his country, fighting for her (and then the country or rather her free Government burnt him to ashes . . . !) Not writing about it, would be belittling that, I felt. Given certain circumstances—and Savarkar’s were certainly excruciatingly horrendous—anyone’s mind can cave in. Let no one think they are immune!

The depth and strength of Savarkar’s character lies in the fact that he pulled himself out of it—in a short three months period or so! That is very, very difficult to do.

That I was going to highlight it in my novel was definite.

But how?

Fortunately (if I may put it like that), I have personal experience of a very deeply hurting mind. I had to pluck out those emotions from my heart and soul to write the scenes.

A mental breakdown cannot be a pretty thing—to write about Savarkar’s was a harrowing experience for me. I cried through the writing of it. I was quite an emotional wreck after it was written.

Some may think it was presumptuous of me to dare to peek into and write of Savarkar’s mind, but as the writer of Burning for Freedom—a novel written to showcase Savarkar to the world—it was unavoidable.

Anurupa