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.